I started out the morning feeling confident in my new floral jumpsuit, and by the end of the day, I was naked and giving birth. Right here on Angela’s carpet. I’m glad I was birthing in her office because it was by far the cleanest room on our entire floor.
And people were bringing me stuff. Like the cake knife from the breakroom (to cut the umbilical cord, I guess?), and a large Taco Bell cup filled with scalding water from the Keurig. A knife and hot ass water seemed like dangerous items to have around a newborn, but what do I know, I’d never had a baby until then.
That’s why this was probably the wildest thing that had ever happened to me. Did someone secretly inseminate me? Maybe I was the victim of alien abduction, and instead of an anal probe, I got the vag probe? That’s the problem with coming to work not pregnant and then giving birth around 4 p.m. There is a lot of mystery here.
Things took a turn after my mid-morning break. I went outside to vape and eat a package of 100-calorie cocoa-dusted almonds from the vending machine like I do every freaking day.
When I finished, Jess was like, “Daria, your stomach looks so huge right now.”
And I was like, “Oh my god, it does.” See, this jumpsuit was very sleek.
“Maybe you’re having an allergic reaction?” Jess asked.
“No way, I eat these nuts every day, Jess.”
We both stared at my stomach, but I couldn’t even suck it in, no matter how hard I tried. The seams on my sides were getting all wonky.
“Food baby,” Jess said, cackling.
“I’m never eating again,” I said and kind of put my arms over my belly. Then we went inside because people would be looking for us. We have these new productivity goals and if we don’t perform, it’s a big fucking deal. You don’t need to know that right now, though.
Later, right before lunch, I felt the baby move, but I didn’t know it was a baby at the time. My tummy felt a little tickle, like tiny butterflies flapping their wings against my insides. It’s kind of sweet to think about now. Jess and I looked it up later, and by 11:15 a.m., my baby was the size of a papaya.
So I felt this fluttering, and I looked down, and I swear my stomach was even bigger. I hadn’t even noticed because I am very into my work. And thank god it was lunchtime, so I raced over to Jess’ cube, and I presented my belly to her like a little beach ball, holding my hands on both sides of my stomach.
“Jess,” I said. I probably looked like I was in one of those pregnancy announcement postcards, except I was frowning.
And we were both like, Holy Shit. And then my jumpsuit started ripping at the seams, right there in her cube. Holes were appearing at my sides, even though the material was at least 10% spandex.
Jess jumped up and quickly untied my jumpsuit and loosened it a little bit around me to give my growing stomach more room, and she took some packing tape from her file cabinet and started ripping off long strips.
“This is a cute outfit, Daria, but it’s so cheap,” she said as she taped up the holes. “You need to stop buying things that cost like $12.”
Then she took off her cardigan and made me put it on to hide the tape.
“I swear, I haven’t eaten anything all day except my almonds,” I said. “What is happening to me?”
We walked down to the food court—although I was definitely waddling—but I really felt too depressed to eat, and everything smelled nasty anyway. At the time, I thought it was because the lunch special at the crepe place was salmon and swiss, and I am not a fan of fish. But between the salmon special and the Lysol smell of the janitor mopping, I felt nauseous, and I vomited, right there on the floor of the food court, in front of everyone trying to eat their meals.
Jess grabbed a handful of paper napkins and hauled me to the bathroom to clean up. When I was feeling less woozy, she took me up to Angela’s office because that was the only place on Seventeen with a couch.
“Um, knock-knock? Excuse me, Angela? Really sorry to bother you, but Daria is sick and needs to lie down on your couch? I’m going to get her a laptop so she can finish her spreadsheet, but she really needs to lie down,” said Jess.
Angela was on the phone but she waved us in. I didn’t know it then, but this was the bedrest part of my pregnancy. I basically stayed here for the next two hours. Jess came and checked on me every once in a while, and Angela seemed fine that I was there. I even got to listen to Angela Zoom about the San Antonio deal. Jess was so jealous.
“I want to know everything about that call later,” Jess said as she bolted in and practically threw the laptop and a massive bottle of TUMS at me. “I know you feel like total shit, but please, please promise me you’ll meet your deadline, okay?”
I ate a few and tried to do what Jess suggested and stay focused on my work, but Angela’s assistant, Maggie, came in once, and she took one look at my bloated stomach and was like, “Are you pregnant?”
Angela just yelled at her for creating a potential HR situation.
But that got me thinking, so the next time Jess checked on me, I whispered, “Am I pregnant?”
And Jess just rolled her eyes and said, “Seriously, Daria?” because she knew that I’ve only messed around with one, maybe three people since before December, and one of those was her cousin from Portland.
“Well, what if I got something from a toilet seat or I accidentally touched some jizz and impregnated myself with a stranger’s baby?” I asked.
See, I had a lot of time to think here on Angela’s couch, and there were always so many men on the train with their hands down their pants, and I remembered from health class that sperm can live 5-7 days outside a penis.
“Don’t overthink it,” said Jess. “Just finish your spreadsheet.”
I didn’t mention this earlier, because it sounds a little creepy, but if any of us had missed our hourly productivity targets, someone from Twenty-Five would have come down to Seventeen and been like, What’s the problem, here, Angela? And that whole process would have put us even more behind. I mean, I don’t love Angela, but I have a lot of respect for her because she is the only woman manager in this building. I have learned a lot from her, and I didn’t want to be the one to fuck up everyone’s day. Also, if I stayed late to catch up on my productivity goals, I might not make it to the urgent care to find out what was wrong with me.
That turned out to be a non-issue because a short time later, my water broke. I had been lying here, and my stomach—which I swear had gotten even bigger—got super tight and my back started killing me. I was in so much pain, but I tried not to make a lot of noise because, by this time, Angela was having a small meeting with Marcus and LeRoy, our sales leads. I couldn’t help it anymore because my back was on fire, and I screamed. Marcus and LeRoy and Angela jumped up and came over, and well, I guess it was obvious to everyone then. Some fluid had pooled on Angela’s couch, and I was soaked.
This is where it gets a little chaotic. I felt a pressure and an overwhelming urge to push, so I put my legs in the air. At that point, my jumpsuit finally gave up and ripped in half, and the top of my baby’s head was right there. I couldn’t see it, obviously, but that’s what Marcus and LeRoy told me later. They were so surprised to see a baby’s head!
Suddenly our entire team was at the door because they heard me scream, and they started running around Angela’s office or going to grab helpful things once they realized I was giving birth. Everyone really moved into action. Marcus and LeRoy got me to the floor, Jess grabbed my knees, and Angela handed me the laptop because no one wanted to mess up the productivity goals too bad.
And Maggie was just standing there crying hysterically, saying how unfair this was because her partner was basically infertile and they had done IVF twice with no success.
Then Angela yelled at Maggie again and told everyone else to go back to their cubes, so they all headed out except Jess and Marcus, even though I could tell that everyone really wanted to be with me when I gave birth. We really bonded at the escape room retreat a few weeks ago. We are a good team!
I’m not sure how much time went by. My coworkers tried to go back to work while I was giving birth, but it was practically impossible. Marcus kept yelling at them to get stuff for him, like the knife and the water, and they could barely concentrate anyway with all the excitement.
Some people made a few cold calls or pounded out a couple spreadsheets, but most of my coworkers were huddled by Angela’s door, waiting for my baby to make an appearance. And before long, my baby was out.
I swear, this is going to be hard to believe, but it hadn’t been out of me for more than a minute, tops, when my baby started levitating. Like, one second it was in Marcus’ arms, and the next, it was floating in the air.
We all freaked out and Marcus tried to grab at it, but my baby drifted all the way to the ceiling and it was kind of hovering there looking at me, and the sunlight from the window bounced off Angela’s top producer crystalline award onto my baby and made it low-level glow, like one of those salt lamps, and even though Angela’s windows only open a little, my little glowing baby turned sideways and zoomed out of the window, through the hazy smog, and up into the clouds.
We were all basically speechless until LeRoy, who is super religious, was like, “We just witnessed something really miraculous.”
Jess said, “Should we call the police?”
And Maggie, who was still totally freaking out, ran to the window. I think she would have thrown herself outside to chase down my baby if it wasn’t moving so fast.
Except for the fact that my outfit was officially ruined, I honestly felt really good that my baby was out of me, and even though Maggie was making me feel super guilty, I felt good about it leaving the building altogether.
Angela waved her hands, and that made everyone calm the fuck down, and she crouched down next to me and said, “Daria, are you okay?”
“I think I’m okay, guys. I’m not ready to be a mom,” I said.
Jess was like, “You know what’s best for you!”
And then the phone rang, and it was Twenty-Five. LeRoy answered, “LeRoy here… Our productivity levels are currently at zero? We will rectify this soon, sir. We’re all here in Angela’s office. Just wrapping up a brief huddle. Yes. Yes, lots of good ideas. New things are happening!”
As LeRoy talked to Twenty-Five, I looked down at my naked bod. I realized that I was holding a wet glob of floral material, and it felt so firm in my hand, I almost couldn’t believe my clothes ripped the entire length of my pregnant body in front of the team. Angela came over and draped me with a fuzzy fleece blanket, just like the ones she gave us all for Christmas, with the company name burned into the polyester. The blankie was soft, and I closed my eyes. I felt accomplished. I hope this was counted in my productivity goals. I got so much done today.
M.A. Boswell (she/her) is a 2021 graduate of the MFA in Writing program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She holds a bachelor’s degree in studio art and works in design and communications. M.A. has creative nonfiction in Hobart, and fiction forthcoming in JMWW. Find her on Twitter at @ma_boswell.