The Season of Waddling


When I started law school two years ago, I imagined my third year winter something like this: Me, in a jaunty hat-scarf combo, confidently striding through the tunnels, a veteran of Boston winters and end-of-semester stress. I’d have a grudging love for the wind and snow, fantastic outlines finished or stolen, and best of all, a public interest fellowship in hand, and the knowledge that I was coasting to my future as a Leader of Tomorrow.

How it’s actually going: I think I strained my thigh muscles walking up the steps to my apartment on Tuesday. I can’t stride. I can only waddle.

This is how things turn out when you end the semester eight months pregnant. At this pace, shuffling heavily through the tunnels, stopping every ten minutes to go to the bathroom, I’m getting a good bit of perspective.

I brought this condition on myself, so I can’t complain too much. Last year my husband and I decided that we really wanted to start a family, and not in that way where you’ve “established your careers,” but now you’re 40 and trekking to the fertility doctor. During law school seemed doable. So, being an obsessive planner, I decided that if we hit the right number on the roulette wheel and gave birth in January 2008, I could finish Fall finals before going into labor, take off Winter Term, set up an easy and evening-centered spring schedule, and graduate on time. I assured everyone in my family that I realized this was not actually going to work out.

The day after my spring Constitutional Law final (which included an enjoyable couple hours writing about state bans on “sexual aids”), I peed on several sticks and hollered at the results: we’d come up winners. January it was.

The pregnancy-law school combo seemed like a breeze at first: The Dean of Students has a person to handle accommodations! The school put in a nursing and pumping room! Empire waist tops were back in! At fall registration, people giggled and tried to figure out if it was appropriate to bring up the Bump. I finagled aisle seats in every class for my bathroom pilgrimages. I enjoyed answering the people who asked, “So you’re taking off the spring semester, right?” with, “No, I’m graduating on time.” All the way through early November, I was feeling great and probably a bit too pleased with myself for how I was handling things.

Then it all hit at once: The third trimester. Impending finals I was NOT prepared for. And just before Thanksgiving, the snow. I got tired, stressed, and cold really fast. Also, people started buying me pink baby onesies and asking if I had chosen a pediatrician and entire parenting philosophy. Um. Babies like when you feed and change them, right?

All you can do is take care of yourself. When I should be trying to learn administrative law, but I’m exhausted, I sleep. When I’m late for class, but I’m frozen and sore, I don’t run. When I have a backup of emails complaining about how the Record is factually inaccurate, gossipy, or not gossipy enough, I delete them all. (Just kidding. Your criticism warms my heart!) And even though most of you do not have a large fetus putting her feet in your ribcage at this very second, I’d advise you do to the same. Sleep, eat, leave the tweaking of your resume and outline margins for another day. Read People magazine, wrap a present for a kid, and sleep some more. It all works out. I never have gotten used to the winters, and my outlines look like homely Charlie Brown Christmas trees, but last week I accepted that public interest fellowship I always hoped I’d get – one that never even asked me for a transcript. I might get a bunch of Bs this term – in fact, I’ll be shocked if I don’t – but I’m getting my dream job and a much-wanted baby girl, and that seems just a little bit better than cum laude at graduation. You’ll get what you want, too – the trick at this school is not whether Santa Harvard will bring you your wishes, but deciding what to write on your list in the first place.I wish you a smooth finals period and a wonderful holiday season and New Year – and hope that in the next few weeks, all of you will take a minute to slow your stride and smell the Boston snow.

And give a pregnant woman your seat on the T. I mean, really.

Andrea Saenz is Editor-in-Chief of the Record, and is gratefully accepting your good wishes, non-pink baby onesies, and administrative law outlines.

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