Diary

Entry 1

A brief, precatory disclaimer, for those of you reading this week’s “Diary” in the hopes of gaining life-changing insight on the inner workings of the U.S. Supreme Court: I am 36 weeks pregnant and change. Which means that at any moment now, my belly button will simply pop out with a ping and the Wee Bald Stranger will be cooked—like a blueberry Poptart. If this Diary ends abruptly, say tomorrow, know that I am draped over a yoga ball at the maternity ward, furiously attempting to draft up my own divorce agreement while cursing my husband, Aaron, in languages I didn’t even know I spoke.

I’m telling you this because I’ve discovered that the principal hardship of pregnancy lies in months of pretending that you are a rational, competent professional, even when you are, in truth, a sweaty preverbal beast. I have become expert at filing stories, doing radio interviews, and editing copy, while fluffy white bunnies frolic through my prefrontal cortex, scattering chocolate and cheese popcorn and the occasional Heineken in their wake. It’s been like this for months. Which is why I am deeply relieved—in the most sexist way imaginable—that Don Rumsfeld is not expecting twins next month.

This brings me to Iraq: Don’t think that just because I am not writing about this war, it’s not edging even the bunnies out of my mind this morning. My parents live in Israel, where Saddam’s scuds are now pointed. But denial is extremely taxing work. Which brings me to this weekend …

Maternity clothes make you look like the baby you are carrying

My husband and I started childbirth classes last week, and it’s clear that childbirth class exists for one reason only: To make couples wonder—now that it’s way too late—how they could possibly have chosen the person beside them as their life partner. I was 35 weeks pregnant, to-do lists having made sleep impossible weeks earlier, when Aaron turned to me mid-class and whispered cheerfully: “This class is really helpful. It’s replacing my denial with all sorts of useful new skills. Like panic.”

Women in childbirth classes mostly look at their partners the way we look at pictures of the placenta—with naked horror. When they handed out the rubber babies last week, Aaron, the sculptor, immediately squashed its head flat between his hands to make the eyes bulge out. The R.N. teaching the class promptly pushed the red button under her desk that direct dials Child Protective Services.

We. Are. So. Screwed.

So, my day. Like most of the writers and journalists who diary forSlate, I can say with some confidence that I don’t actually do anything all that interesting with my time. I pretty much read and write. Like a first-grader but without the lunchbox-fights. I read what people are saying about the law and then write what I think about the law. Then I do it again.

Dear God. I have to write 350 more words in 35 minutes. Which is only 20 minutes measured in Oreo™ years. (I began to measure time in units of Oreo-eating at Month 6, and it’s become second nature. I will doubtless time my contractions in Oreo units as well.)

The circle of life

Unlike most of the Slate staff, I work out of my home much of the time, in Charlottesville, Va., a 90-minute drive from D.C. (700 Oreo years in traffic.) As this birth gets closer, I spend a lot less time in Washington, which is difficult as the homosexual sodomy and affirmative-action cases approach and as the John Lee Malvo and Zacarias Moussaoui trials gather steam. These are all cases I’d have liked to tell my grandkids about, but it seems the only way to get grandkids is to have this baby in early April as planned. It helps that there are daffodils and crocuses sneaking out of the dirt wherever I look today. I feel a little more a part of that Lion King Circle-of-Life deal, which is a lovely place to be while pregnant.

I am planning to sit outside and finish reading the new Sandra Day O’Connor book, which is due out this spring. The book is maddening in all the ways books by the Supreme Court justices tend to be maddening: There is such a determined effort to be magisterial and remote that you end up just wanting to holler: “But what is your favorite color, Sandy?” “What is your favorite TV show?” Why do the justices think we want to read yet another take on constitutional history, when they are uniquely poised to tell us about the mechanics of doing justice?

I fell asleep last night fantasizing a future Supreme Court justice who strolls around in a John Deere hat, munching Doritos and granting interviews to anyone who asks. Someone human and accessible. Chirping away about what really happens behind the red curtain. Somewhere around 2 a.m., though, the justice became my Wee Bald Stranger. Every dream ends with the Wee Bald Stranger these days. And I was awake and wide-eyed for the rest of the night.