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Me, My Baby, and a JD

In the late months of my pregnancy, I presented a legitimate offer to settle to my client and advised him it would make financial sense to accept it. He accused me of having gone soft because of my pregnancy. Because the opposing party was a woman. How nice of him. 

I didn't really take a maternity leave in the traditional sense. My then-husband and I relied on my income, and if we were going to take a reduction in pay, it made more sense for it to be his. But then I had an emergency c-section and wound up on the couch for six weeks. So I practiced law in the odd hours of the morning, reviewing documents, scheduling emails, and keeping an eye on my newborn daughter who would only sleep in her vibrating chair. 

Despite the fact that I remained available to clients via email. Despite the fact that I didn't have any court dates scheduled that another associate would have to argue. Despite the fact that I continued to review and supervise all the work that was being done. I still had clients asking me how soon I was going to be back. Why wasn't their file progressing any faster. How come we weren't in court yet.

Yeah, I just had major abdominal surgery. But sure, it's really too bad that you couldn't get a court date in the weeks before Christmas. 

And then I was able to walk again and was back at the office. Of course, this was pre-covid, when there was an office to be 'back' at in the first place. 

The universe, of course, had other plans for how little of a maternity leave my practice was going to allow me to take. By the time my daughter was five months old, the pandemic had me working from home again. 

Her middle name is Rose. Because both my mom and my grandma used to tell me that I never took time to smell the roses. And I wanted her name to be a reminder to me that she was why I had worked so hard. Why I had pushed so hard. To be better. To be ready. 

So when the pandemic sidelined a litigator, it not only gave me more time than I could have ever imagined having with her during the first year of her life, but it also forced the people interacting with my legal practice to recognize that raising her was going to be one of my priorities too. My clients saw her on zoom. Opposing counsel would hear her babble in the background during calls. She once got to be on video for an urgent hearing I spoke to, playing happily in her play pen and pressing her face against the mesh wall in the hopes that His Honour would smile at her on the camera. 

But the novelty of the world slowing down only lasts for so long. Eventually, the expectation that parenting during a literal global pandemic would no longer be disruptive arose. Comments about how hearing her baby monitor was distracting. Suggestions that I could not possibly be giving the attention to my cases that they needed. Suggestions that I could not possibly be giving her the attention that she needed. 

It was, truly, exhausting. 

She'll be two and a half at the end of April. It's 2022. We're still in a pandemic. And I no longer litigate.