Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The workforce of my department is 33% pregnant, with women ranging in progression from 6 to 38 weeks. Maternity leaves are blocked out on our calendars like big fluorescent streaks of freedom, and scheduling work is a strategic exercise in beating nature to the punch.

It works out well for me because there's always an ample stash of chocolate in the meeting room. But our (male) boss is more than a little sensitive to the fact that in an entirely female department, we're all ticking time bombs. He has even gently suggested that perhaps we might consider hiring a few men.

As I was sitting in the meeting room unwrapping another piece of chocolate, chatting with the pregnant girls, I happened to mention that I should stop eating so much sugar. It was making me feel icky.

They perked up. "Icky how?" they asked.

I thought about it. "Icky… nauseous…tired…crampy…"

"You're pregnant!" They cried with glee, clapping their hands and exchanging knowing looks.

"I am not pregnant," I said, a statement that started out with conviction and then, mid-sentence, struck me with the realization that it was not impossible and was therefore technically possible. And holy crap. Come to think of it, I was feeling extremely pregnant.

"You are!" they insisted, as if the baby alert had been tripped and red-flashing sirens were now going off above my head.

"No I'm not. Leave me alone. I have to pee," I said, and stood up to leave. "And my boobs are sore."

Across the table, one of them uncapped a permanent marker. "Can you smell this?"

"When was your last period?" someone else asked. And I should add that this question would indeed seem to cross the boundaries of polite conversation if I had not spent yesterday afternoon with the same crowd hashing out the pros and cons of membrane ruptures and episiotomies.

I sat back down. "I'm not sure," I said. I opened my calendar and looked back over the months. "In the last six weeks I've had three periods but at least one of them wasn't a real period because I'm still on the mini-pill."

This was followed by a brief discussion of the mini-pill's laughable effectiveness and the number of people we all know who have gotten pregnant on this so-called form of birth control. Then we stared at my calendar and decided I was either three days late or not due for another two weeks.

"This is ridiculous," I told them. "We're totally making this all up. I'm not pregnant."

Later, I had a heart-to-heart talk with my stomach. "Is there anybody in there?" I asked it.

"That depends," it said. "Are you talking about the fat deposits that keep asking for more chocolate, or the burrito that's trying to tell you that Mexican fast food is never a good idea?"

"That's not what I mean," I told it.

"Then no," said my stomach. "I assure you, we are as unpregnant as we could possibly get."

"That's what I thought!" I said.

"You might want to check back in two weeks, though."

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