Nicole wasn't without resources. She thought about her mother, then the internet, but finally settled on her best friend Judy Barnes, herself the mother of a 5 year old child named Bailey. She had watched Judy finish her senior year of high school carrying Bailey all the way, giving birth to her a month after graduation.
Nicole punched Judy's number and then endured 20 seconds of some unidentifiable 10 year old hip hop ringtone before she answered.
"Hello?" said Judy.
"Holy crap," said Nicole.
"Oh, hi Nicole," said Judy. "And shut up, that's a classic."
"So were parachute pants and disco," said Nicole.
"You know you love it," said Judy. "What's the haps?"
"Well, I kind of have an issue and I think you can help me with it."
"What kind of issue?"
"Let's just say you are the voice of experience," said Nicole.
"Sister, there's only one thing I've ever done that you haven't..."
The phone went silent for a moment.
Finally, Judy said "Who?"
"I don't know," said Nicole. "I was at a party a few weeks ago, had a little bit too much, one thing led to another, I guess."
"Judy?" said Nicole. "Just say it, I'm a slut, I know..."
"Holy cow, let a girl process, will you?" said Judy. "And stop with the self shaming. I might go with irresponsible, maybe stupid, but a slut you are definitely not."
"Anyway, let's get together, " said Nicole. "Please. I mean, I can do some research, and I will, but I just need to talk about this with somebody other than my mother."
"Not a bad resource," said Judy.
"My mom? You've met her, right? Nobody puts you in your place quicker with an arched eyebrow and a stiff shot of fire and brimstone than she does," said Nicole.
"She was a single parent, am I right?" said Judy.
"Yeah, but does she have to be so damn judgmental?" said Nicole, with some heat.
"But still, " said Judy, ignoring the tone. "She might know some things, is all I'm saying."
Nicole took a breath. "I hear you," she said. "But for now I just want to get together with my best friend and talk about dumb party girl tricks over coffee."
"I know a place," said Judy.
The next morning, they went to Morning Rush, a little hole in the wall coffee shop downtown where hipsters and students sat at tall tables and frowned at their laptops and drank frothy coffee drinks in tall mugs. .
Looking around, Nicole said, "What is this, Friends?"
"I know," said Judy. "But they have good coffee."
They settled in.
"Well, so you went and did it," said Judy.
"I guess I did," said Nicole. "Not on purpose."
"Nobody ever does, sister," said Judy.
A twenty something stopped by and took their coffee orders.
Nicole watched the waitress leave, then said "I really don't know what to say."
"You don't have to say anything," Judy said. "This is me you're talking to, remember?"
"I know," said Nicole.
"How did your mom take it?"
"Pretty much like I expected. Gloom and doom and get your ass to church."
"Gotta love her," said Judy.
"I know right?" said Nicole. "But even with that, she was actually pretty supportive. She even asked me to move back in."
"See, it's not all bad."
"Of course I declined," said Nicole. She laughed a little bit, then turned away.
"I know," said Judy. "It's a shock to the system."
"I'm such an idiot," Nicole said, sniffing.
"Of course you were," said Judy. "So was I. Dumb. Now here we are."
"I don't know what to do," said Nicole.
"It's scary as hell," said Judy. "But it worked out for me."
"But you've got a man," said Nicole. "I mean, not that you need one, but the extra support has to be nice."
"Now I do," said Judy. "But that's incidental, baby. I was going to keep that kid no matter what."
"I don't know if I'm that strong."
"Excuse me," said Judy, " But, bitch please. You are the strongest woman I know."
"I don't feel much like it," said Nicole. "I wish..."
"Wishes are for chumps," said Judy. "You have to go with what you got."
Nicole looked at her best friend sitting there in her little sun dress with her hair up and lipstick on her coffee cup and wondered what happened to the little idiot who used to honk at the boys and pop her gum in class.
"Quit looking at me like that," said Judy.
"What did you do with Judy?" said Nicole, but she was laughing now.
"Motherhood does that to you," said Judy.
"What else does it do to you," asked Nicole. "I mean, what happens when you, I mean, when..."
"Oh, sister, there's whole lot of other wonderful things that happen when you're pregnant, stuff that'll make your life miserable long before that baby pops out."
"That's really why I wanted to talk to you," said Nicole. "I want to know what I have to look forward to."
"It's like your worst period on steroids, except without the blood. We're talking bloating, heartburn, swelling, I could go on and on. For me, that was just in the first month or so."
"Oh," said Nicole.
"You could actually Google all this stuff, you know," said Judy. "Anyway, then there's the constipation and the hemorrhoids."
"Oh, yeah," said Judy. "And, oh my god, you're peeing all the time. And throwing up, too."
"All the time?"
Judy looked at her friend, all big eyed and scared, and couldn't help but smile. "Sometimes all at once," she said.
"What are you grinning about?" said Nicole. "I'm in trouble here."
"You bet you are," said Judy.
"You were supposed to ease my mind," said Nicole.
"You want peace of mind or the real deal? Look, I won't lie, it's not going to be easy. But for me, it was worth it. The best thing I've ever done."
They were silent, sipping their coffee.
Nicole said, "I'm keeping this baby."
"I knew that," said Judy.
"There wasn't a doubt in my mind," said Judy. "I know you sister, and the kind of person you are. And for the record, I think you'll be a great mother."
"I'm scared, Judy."
Judy laughed. "Hell, Bailey's 5 years old and I'm still scared to death. Welcome to motherhood!"
Next up: Mama's gotta preach