Everyone’s experience of being pregnant on public transport during rush hour is unique to them, this is just mine by way of a gauge. In a word… it was disappointing. Speaking as someone with two older sisters, one of which had to make the daily rush hour commute twice a day until 38 weeks pregnant, I’d heard the stories. Therefore, whenever I saw a pregnant woman wobbling on the train, I’d always give up my seat. After all, it could be me someday, and karmic energy is bound to play a part, right?! WRONG.
The only time I’ve ever been offered a seat was something of a perplexing scenario. Firstly, it wasn’t a packed train. Secondly, the offer came from a gentleman who was a familiar face during the morning commute, so why he suddenly assumed I was pregnant and hurriedly said “please, have my seat” must have been down to my outfit choice that morning. Either way, I took the seat, for obvious reasons.
So, to summarise, the only time I’ve ever been offered a seat on a train was when I wasn’t pregnant. What about the all the months I was visibly carrying a child on top of my pelvis? Luckily enough, I used to be in the office at an ungodly hour, so generally, there were a few spare seats – so it wasn’t much of an issue. However, there were several times when a later train was required, when an antenatal appointment was being attended…
Picture the scene. A woman visibly in her third trimester, unwittingly (swear) swinging her bump in the faces of seated passengers as she squeezes her way down the aisle, away from the scrum at the train doors. I know what you’re thinking; the main reason people don’t offer their seats is because they don’t want to assume someone is pregnant and therefore offend them. Well, I was carrying my ‘NATIONAL MATERNITY HOSPITAL’ folder in my arms as it didn’t fit in the bag. There was no mistaking the state I was in.
For the entire journey, I stood, in front of adolescent school children and able-bodied men and women, all seated. Some stared out the window, some were “asleep”. Some were “consumed” by their technology. And then there was the one woman who eyeballed me for the entire journey. She was the only seated person to make eye contact, while most of the passengers being squished by the doors were communicating their collective disgust to me in an over-animated fashion. One mouthed “I’m so sorry”. No idea why she was personally sorry unless she was apologising on behalf of humankind. Another smiled at me and rolled his eyes. Another threw her hands up (she had a bit more room than most) in an exasperated fashion. If only these people had been seated instead. I would’ve definitely gotten a seat….
This scenario wasn’t a once off, it happened at least four times during my last pregnancy. Whenever I did get a seat, and there happened to be another pregnant woman standing, I’d feel obliged to swing open the coat and start fanning the face to signify that I wasn’t in a position to give up the perch. Did anyone sacrifice their precious seat? Few.
Thankfully I’ve been working from home since Lara was born so I don’t have this issue nearly as much on the last pregnancy. If I’d to get the DART the first 16 weeks on Eva I would’ve painted everyone in spew, so that would’ve been interesting (while we’re at it, let’s spare a thought for those who aren’t blatantly pregnant as yet but are feeling possibly the worst).
OK, so what does this boil down to? In one camp we could have the following opinions: “Welp, you got yourself pregnant”, “It’s an equal society”, “You’re not disabled” and so on. In the other camp we have “You obviously have little idea what it’s like to carry another human being on your bladder” and “Lord, did no one teach you any manners?” Both are extreme opposing views, but – if pushed – I fall into the latter camp. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?! AT LEAST OFFER ME THE POXY SEAT. There, I said it.
Thankfully, after much debate (mostly on radio) Iarnród Éireann have finally issued actual Baby On Board badges for mums-to-be. To get one, just email firstname.lastname@example.org. Although, if a National Maternity Hospital folder and a swinging bump doesn’t do it, will a badge make any difference?