I’m 39 weeks pregnant, which means my baby is full-term and could be tearing its way out of me any day now.
My body is large, slow, and weak, but my mind is sprinting at a mile a minute. How can I best protect my daughter? What will the first 100 days be like? How will I make money? When will I have my next child?
I have the privilege (or misfortune, depending on who you ask) of working gig-based law jobs, which means that 1) I’m not taking a costly step off some hierarchical ladder in order to take time off, and 2) I can pretty much go back to doing what I was doing when I’m ready. I also passed the ALTA language exam in French before I stopped working, which means that I will be eligible to do legal work in French at a higher pay rate when I return.
I don’t know exactly when that will be, though. I also don’t know how I’ll feel about taking care of an infant. What I do know is that I am a very careful person who is deeply invested in my children’s well-being, and that I don’t expect anyone to try as hard as I will to do a good job raising them.
A quick and dirty rule of thumb for whether or not a daycare is good is that if you can afford a daycare that meets or exceeds what would otherwise be provided at home, then it is a good option. I can easily estimate the financials, but the actual standard of care that I am able to provide has yet to be determined. So, like many things, we’ll have to figure the situation out as it unfolds.
I have general plans for how to manage the kids and career thing, though. To try for our next baby when our first child is one year old, so that they’ll both be ready for preschool by the time I’m 35. To get a book deal in the meantime for the memoir that I’m drafting, so that I can work from home until they are ready for preschool. To maintain my attorney license and keep studying French and Korean as a career backup plan.
Wait, a memoir? What could I possibly have to write about, right? The answer is: Lots! Lots of things, that aren’t important because of me, but because of how they have potential to impact social policy, which in my case is the goal.
If that doesn’t work out, I’ll probably end up being a mother of two with an unexceptional legal career. Not the worst thing that could happen. I can try to do my best at that, too.
Trying is important, so important that sometimes I have to mess with myself to make sure it happens. For example, during the past month or so, I faced some difficult situations and forced myself to do better than I would have otherwise by pretending that I was going to die in childbirth.
I just had so much on my plate at the time. The thoughts that were running through my mind were, I’m so tired, I really can’t stand that person, I don’t feel like taking the high road again. But I powered through, did my best, and succeeded, because I knew that if I died in childbirth, I would have wanted my last actions to be good.
I think about this Quora answer about what happens after we die sometimes. It makes enough sense to me to affect how I think about things in the present. That is, if we do indeed turn into dust with no memories when we die, how should it affect our actions in the present?
My primary, intuitive response to this is to do good things even when it’s not easy. My guess is that this response has less to do with me than it does with the people around me. I try to surround myself with good people, and I believe that their light shines through me. So, that’s where that drive comes from, I think -- the good people around me.
My secondary response is to accept the risks that come with following the heart. The prospect of falling into a sea of no memories for eternity has quite a clarifying and emboldening effect.
Why bother writing a memoir? Why dream of changing the world for the better?
Why not? We are destined to vanish. The best case scenario is the worst case scenario. We won’t remember a thing.