“What are you going to do?” my friend Kate whispered across the square table at Le Pain Quotidian. She squeezed my hand.
“I have no idea,” I said. I could feel tears collecting in the corner of my eyes. I would not cry in public. I would not. This is all a bad dream, I tried to tell myself.
There were several people to break the news to, first and foremost my husband. We’ve only been married for four years, practically newlyweds! This wasn’t part of the plan.
“You’re… pregnant?” he said when I told him over pasta primavera that evening. “Are you sure?” He eyed me warily. “Is it mine?”
“Of course it’s yours!” I cried. What a cretin. He was all sweet talk during our monthly “dates” and here he was in the sober light of day throwing around accusations.
“How did this happen?” he said. I couldn’t believe he didn’t know. “We were so careful.” I sighed heavily, twirling a piece of spaghetti around my fork, feeling overwhelmed that now I would officially have to come down on one side of the cloth versus disposable diapers debate. “Well, of course I’ll do my part,” he announced in what I assume he thought was a chivalrous tone. “I’ll step up to the plate.” He reached for his iPhone. “I can’t promise that we’ll be able to get into a decent pre-K this late in the game, but my colleague’s wife is a teacher at the 92nd Street Y. It’s worth a shot.” He exchanged some pleasantries with the man on the other end of the line then mouthed to me: “How far along are you?” He nodded efficiently and scribbled my response on a scrap of paper next to a list of the city’s most prestigious schools that he had begun compiling.
Next on the list was my father, the professor. There was a long silence after I confessed to him.
“But you haven’t even made tenure yet!” he wailed once he was finally able to speak. “A baby is going to derail your entire career!”
“It’s going to be okay, Dad,” I said, trying to calm him. “I’ll only have to take a few weeks off.”
“I thought you were waiting until 35,” he said. “That’s what good girls do.”
“Sometimes accidents happen,” I said.
“Try to place at least three articles before the due date,” he counseled. “And promise me you’ll network extra hard at MLA this year. Wear something loose and no one will even know. You know how people gossip and you don’t want this getting around school.”
“A baby?” my mother said. Her eyes were all judgment. “Why would you want to do such a thing?” She poured balsamic vinegar on her salad and beckoned the waiter over for more lemons. “You completely ruined my figure, not to mention my marriage.”
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“Do you know how much Pilates you’re going to have to do after all this”—here she motioned with an open palm towards my still-flat stomach—“is said and done?”
“I can handle it,” I said.
“That’s what they all say,” she said. “You have no idea how much work it is.” She squeezed the fresh lemon into her water and bit into the rind. “Staying thin is a full-time job and anyone who says differently is lying.”
My friends were of course extremely concerned for me. How was I going to raise a kid at my age? I was practically a kid myself! It wasn’t going to be easy, that much I knew. I’d seen the reality shows: Mid-Career and Pregnant, Still Renting and Pregnant, An Undiversified Portfolio and Pregnant. I didn’t have to have this child. There were options, options I did not want to think about but options nonetheless. I had my whole life ahead of me, after all. Should I really be asked to sacrifice everything because of this one mistake? I put a hand on my stomach, hoping the creature inside would give me some answers. Am I ready for the suburbs? I asked, like it was a Magic Eight Ball. Am I ready for bulk shopping at Costco? Am I ready for negotiating vacation days with nannies? Am I ready to give up sushi?
No answers were forthcoming.