In my first semester in law school, I learned that I had become pregnant with my first child. Like anyone else, I was excited about the baby but terrified - as a student, I had no money for pre-natal care, and I was not sure at all how any of this was going to work out.
I spent the next several months talking through the anxiety and morning sickness with my grandmother, for whom I am named. Margaret had put my grandfather through UT law school; he was a member of its third graduating class - I believe in 1937. I never knew my grandfather, but it was undoubtedly my grandmother’s influence and support that kept me going.
I did not enjoy morning sickness during the 8:00 AM classes, but what was much harder to deal with were the openly sexist attitudes I encountered from a few of my classmates and professors. These folks, who I viewed as educated and enlightened people, seemed to believe that my pregnancy had reduced me to the intellectual capacity of a cow. A professor knocked my grade down a full letter because he said that I “did not present a professional image” due to wearing maternity clothing. At least weekly, I heard some comment from a student or professor to the effect that I was putting my baby at risk by the stress of law school. A fellow student remarked that he would not “let” his wife remain in law school if she was pregnant.
Finally, a professor brought me to her office, sat me down, and in an earnest tone stated she wanted to talk to me seriously because she thought that I needed to “get clear on priorities” and quit. Completely beside myself at this point, I shouted, “I’ll quit law school when pigs fly!” and stomped out of her office.
My grandmother died during my last exam, but not before she squeezed my hand and told me she was proud of me for never giving up.
My mother, Mary Ellen, gave me a wood carving of a flying pig for my graduation gift.
But the best part was when my daughter, Faith, by then age 3, met me at the end of the stage when I picked up my diploma.