Authors: Lauren Weisberger
Karolina laughed. She had just finished tying pink ribbons on the guest favor bags and was about to start filling the champagne glasses with sparkling rosÃ©. “It's not our fault. Everything we suggested was cool and understated and anti-baby, and
is what she chose.”
“I can hear you, you know,” Emily called from her perch on the couch, where she was directing her baby-shower setup like a bellicose air traffic controller while a girl from Drybar blew out her hair. “I'm starving. Can someone please bring me something to eat?”
Miriam materialized in front of her. Her floral dress was cinched
at the waist, and her over-the-knee boots made her legs look long and glamorous. “You look thin in that,” Emily said accusingly.
“Nice, right?” Miriam twirled around and finished with a little bow. “I'm back to my pre-kid weight. Who knows? I may be in a bikini by next summer.”
“Please no,” Emily said, looking disgusted. “You've had three children. No one needs to see your bare stomach again, ever. Or mine.” She motioned to her own enormous midsection, which was nothing like the cute basketball-under-the-shirt she'd imagined. Instead, she looked like she'd swallowed a whole goat. Maybe even a buffalo. Her ass had spread into the shape of a half-deflated beach ball, her breasts were bulging out of the double-F nursing monstrosity she'd wrapped them in, and her cankles were textbook, only puffier. Even her face had swollen to nearly twice its size, and her necksâpluralâunfurled themselves every time she dared move her chin in a downward motion. She hadn't seen her feet in six weeks. Karlie Kloss had asked her last week if she was having
. There was no point of obvious delineation between her breasts and her belly or her right boob from her left. She was straight up, no denying it,
. And the worst part of the whole wretched thing? She was okay with it.
“What can I get you, honey?” Miriam asked. “The caterers brought a gorgeous-looking arugula and farro salad. Let's see, I also saw them setting up an enormous fruit platter. There's grilled salmon over spinach, a quinoa dish with cranberries and feta, and aâ”
“I want a burger!” Emily barked, irritated beyond description that she couldn't just get up and help herself. She had special permission from her doctor to get out of bed solely for the baby shower, but she had to sit the entire time. The woman was such an alarmist! Something about her cervix being too far opened and the baby almost falling out. Emily wasn't entirely sure of the details, although Miles had taken notes and asked questions and policed her every move as if she were about to give birth to the next queen of England.
“We decided against the sliders on the menu, remember, honey?”
Miriam said soothingly. “Too many vegetarians. Oh, we have miniâtomato bruschetta drizzled withâ”
“I. Want. A. Burger!” Emily growled. “
a piece of salmon. A real, juicy burger. With cheese. And fries. And I want it
“Got it,” Miriam said, and Emily could see she was barely suppressing a smile. “I'll order one for delivery. Should be here in no time.”
“That's my girl,” Miles said, emerging from their new bedroom wearing jeans and a cashmere hoodie. He stood over her and rubbed her belly. “And that's my other girl.”
“Your girls are starving,” Emily said, offering her face for a kiss. “All this prissy girly baby-shower food isn't going to cut it.”
“I have to run out now to pick up the balloons, so tell Miriam that I'll grab your burger on the way home, okay?” He kissed her again, grabbed his coat, and walked out the apartment door. There was nothing Miles wouldn't fetch or find or assemble now that there was a baby in the picture. He was so ecstatic and so damn attentive, Emily worried she might have to get pregnant with a second baby just to keep his attention. She relaxed back into the couch and watched everyone set up around her. They moved so quickly! Like gazelles. She could barely remember a time when it wasn't an effort to get from the bedroom to the bathroom.
Emily had been skeptical that they could move into the new apartment by December 1 and have it set up enough for her New Year's Day shower, but even she had to admit the place looked pretty good. When Miles had heard from his company that his transfer from Los Angeles to New York had been accepted, Emily had almost screamed with happiness. Peace out, L.A.! Goodbye, wheatgrass and early-morning mountain hikes and hideous highway traffic and surfing culture and most of all people who either didn't understand or didn't like sarcasm. Hello, dirt and bagels and taxis and self-deprecation and
. It was good to be home.
She wanted to move back to the West Village, on a ground-floor brownstone apartment with a backyard area like they used to have, but
Miriam and Karolina had gotten hysterical when Emily said so. They moaned about staircases and strollers, about safety and security, and how moving into an apartment without a doorman to sign for diaper deliveries and hail cabs was basically akin to child abuse. So against her better judgment, she and Miles had signed a lease on a three-bedroom condo in a brand-new high-rise in West Chelsea, where the High Line jutted through the third floor of the building and out the other side. The lobby looked like a Mandarin Oriental, the gym could be mistaken for an art installation, and the roof-deck pool switched between indoor and outdoor with the press of a button. There was even a communal playroom designed by child-development specialists and staffed round-the-clock by Columbia students. It wasn't what she would have chosen, but Emily had to admit that so far it was pretty sweet living.
“I still think you should have moved to Connecticut,” Karolina said, walking into the room. “Now that you're going to be a mom and all.”
Emily stared at her. “I'm not even going to dignify that with a response.” She turned and smiled at the woman who'd finished her hair and was gathering her dryer and brushes.
“I have to say, I really like it there now,” Karolina said. “It gets a bad rapâand there are some crazies, of courseâbut overallÂ .Â .Â .”
Emily held up her hand. “Stop. Please. If I hear you or Miriam say another word about how beautiful and lovely and civilized the suburbs are, I'm going to vomit. Mark my words: I will never live in the suburbs.”
Karolina smiled as she placed a final pink rose in the crystal vase on the pink-draped buffet table. “Yeah, no one's ever said that before.”
Emily's phone rang and caller ID announced that it was Helene, Rizzo Benz's manager. “Hello, Helene?” Emily said, dripping kindness. “Long time, no talk. What's it been? A year since Rizzo's Nazi prank?”
“Hi, Emily. So sorry to call you again on New Year's Day. I promise this isn't going to be a thing, but well, I'm calling with some good news. Rizzo would like to hire you, effective immediately. Not for any particular problem this time, but to be added to your roster just in case.”
“Sounds like someone else isn't happy with Olivia Belle's littleÂ .Â .Â . situation.”
“You could say that. Rizzo fired her immediately upon hearing the news, and yours was the first name that came up.”
“Well, isn't that flattering,” Emily said sweetly. “I'd be more than happy to work with Rizzo. I just need him to call me himselfâtomorrow, please, not todayâand tell me that he's sorry he was such an asshole and from now on he'll do whatever I tell him, no questions asked. Can you pass that along for me?”
“Um, I can tell him that, but I'm not sureâ”
“Well, those are my terms. Happy New Year, Helene. And thanks for the call.” Emily hung up and smiled. She'd be hearing from him first thing the next morning. In the forty-eight hours since news of Olivia Belle's accounts getting hackedâresulting in endless client images, emails, texts, home addresses, even some medical information (aka plastic surgery plans) being splashed across the InternetâEmily had fielded calls from each and every one of her clients who had deserted her for Olivia. And she'd taken each and every one of them right back into the fold, after extracting both protracted apologies and promises of loyalty going forward. Not that Emily would forgive and forget. She wouldn't. But it was damn nice to have a full roster again, and it would make leaving Miranda and
permanently after her maternity leave that much easier. Helping Miranda sort out the Met Ball and Fashion Week the last couple months hadn't been as hellish as Emily had originally thoughtâas promised, the perks were plentiful and the pay was impressiveâbut it was definitely not a long-term career option. Miranda had basically accused Emily of getting pregnant to get out of
, and Emily hadn't disagreed. It was the least confrontational way to end her temporary stint there while maintaining a good relationship with Miranda. It must have worked, because Miranda had accepted Emily's insincere invitation to the baby shower, and now all Emily could think was that she needed Miranda today like she needed another ten pounds.
The phone rang before she could consider this further. It was the
doorman, announcing that the first guests had arrived. “They're here,” Emily bellowed from the couch. “Can someone get the door?” She texted Miles:
where r u? need my burger!
One by one, women streamed into the modern Italian-design-style living room. Each so chic and pulled together. So stylish. So
. And each and every one lied through her teeth, telling Emily how gorgeous she looked, how much her skin glowed, how she barely looked like she'd gained a pound. Emily glanced down at her black maternity leggings with the waistband that stretched over her belly and straight to her bra strap and the poly-blend shapeless black tunic she wore over them, and she forced herself to smile. If only any of them realized that she didn't give a flying fuck how she looked. There was a real, live human being growing inside herâa daughter, no less! So what if she was fat now? That was why God invented personal trainers and private nutritionists, wasn't it? Some proper starvation and a ton of exercise and she'd have her body back in no time. And whatever didn't go back exactly where it belonged would be easily remedied by Dr. Feinberg, right in the privacy of his lovely office on Park Avenue. Why did women get so
about all this?
When nearly all of the invited guests had arrived, Miriam distributed sheets with color photos of two dozen babies. The goal was to see who could write the names of the celebrity parents underneath each photo in the least amount of time. A player could earn extra credit if she also knew the name of the baby.
“You seriously want to play Celebrity Baby with me?” Emily asked, and everyone laughed. She put her pen to the paper the moment Miriam called “Go!” and had completed the entire worksheet in one minute and thirty seconds.
“Done!” Emily called, holding her paper above her head. She looked around the room: no one else had filled in even half.
“Fine, I'll go back and do my extra credit,” she mumbled as she scrawled “Luna” and “Boomer” and “Rumi” as though signing her own name. Thirty seconds later, she said, “Done! What do I win?”
Out of the corner of her eye, Emily saw the apartment door open and Miles walk inside clutching a Shake Shack bag. Oh, how he loved her! To stand on that line all the way across town in January? She couldn't remember ever feeling so lucky. But her gratitude was cut short when she noticed who had followed him inside and was looking around the apartment with such obvious disgust that Emily felt a wave of humiliation wash over her. What was so repugnant to Miranda right then? Emily wondered. It could be the couchâshe knew she should've gone for gray linen and not that tacky velvet the decorator had insisted on. Or was it the rug in the foyer, with its abstract pattern and contrasting colors, that Miranda hated? Or perhaps it was all the women, teetering on heels and balancing mimosas and laughing a little too loudly over an insipid baby-shower game?
, Emily thought. That level of Miranda revulsion could be saved for one and only one thing: Emily's pregnancy. It was one thing to procreate; Miranda seemed to understand that was unpalatable but necessary. But to let oneself nearly double in size while undertaking the aforementioned procreation? That was just obscene. Emily placed both hands on the couch and heaved herself to the standing position. It was important to greet Miranda properly. And besides, she
“Miranda, I'm so pleased you could make it,” Emily said, hoping the lie didn't sound as transparent as she thought it did. Still, while it wasn't enjoyable having Miranda attend a get-together in one's own home, it did say something about Emily, didn't it? Something good.
“Emily.” Miranda nodded. “Due any moment, I see.”
“I actually still have six weeks toâ”
Miranda waved her right hand at nothing. “Do me a favor and fetch your friend Karolina for me, dear.”
“Karolina Zuraw?” What could Miranda possibly want with Karolina? She wasn't going to bring up the whole messy Graham thing, was she? Try to take credit for it? Because Emily was over that entire situation and really didn't want anything to distract from her day.
“Do you know another one?”
“I'll get her. Can I bring you back something to drink? Some Perrier? A mimosa?” Emily felt the familiar wave of perma-embarrassment that she always felt in Miranda's presence.
“I'm on my way out,” Miranda said, even though she had yet to remove her long fox coat.
“Of course, I'll be right back.”
Emily hurried from the foyer to the living room as fast as she could. It felt like a ten-pound kettlebell was pressing against her pelvis, but Karolina wasn't there. She wasn't in the powder room or the kitchen either. It wasn't until Emily peeked into the nursery they had decorated in soothing shades of cream and beige that she found Karolina, absentmindedly stroking a cashmere crib blanket while staring at the midcentury-modern rocker so intently that Emily just knew Karolina was envisioning how it would feel to feed a baby in that chair.