Monday, April 7, 2014

Pregnant on public transportation

Recently I was riding the bus near campus when it was particularly crowded. College students were packed on like sardines, and I was standing in the aisle with many of them.

I clung to the overhead strap for dear life as we wobbled around each corner. I wobbled along with the bus—my pregnancy hormones and new center of gravity have aggravated my already poor balance.

I couldn't help casting a dark glance at the students sitting around me. Tall, healthy, energetic-looking undergrads filled all the seats—even the handicapped ones!—while I wobbled and nearly fell over with each turn.

Just as the bus pulled up to my stop, I heard this automated message play over the vehicle's loudspeaker: "Please give up your seat for handicapped passengers, seniors, and expectant mothers."

Oh, the irony. I resisted the urge to stare pointedly at the seated students as I trundled off the bus.

That afternoon, my friend Laura who lives in NYC sent me a text message. "What's your take on public transportation?" she asked. "I just offered my seat to a super pregnant lady and she turned me down—and that's not the first time."

Ohhhh boy, did I have thoughts on that.

"I would accept it!" I said. "I actually feel a little annoyed if there aren't any empty seats and no one offers me theirs," I added, remembering my experience that morning.

Then I had to admit, "Mayyyybe that's not the right reaction either."

Anyway, the whole exchange got me really intrigued about whether other pregnant women are as eager to accept a seat as I am. Maybe other pregnant ladies have better balance than I do? Or maybe they have more energy? I'm curious to know what your experiences have been with this!

**Update: I want to add a story from this morning—two different students offered me a seat on the bus! I gratefully accepted the closer one, and now I feel bad for giving them a bad rap. Some of them are really gracious, it seems! 


  1. Oh I'm so sorry for you! I would get very annoyed when I was VERY pregnant and no one would offer their seat for me on public transportation last time around (I don't take it anymore now). I tried to assume the best. Maybe that woman has vertigo or that man's ankle is really weak and he'll tumble right over. Or maybe that other person gets really queasy and needs the stability of a chair. I had to think that way, making up outrageous reasons in order not to grumble the entire time. Thankfully, people often offered their seats. Actually once, I had gotten off of our trolley because I was overheating and it was very crowded. I just needed fresh air and figured I'd get on the next one. So after I took a break, I got back on and no one was getting off. But it was crowded and no one really saw me, so I tried not to grumble, knowing that a seat would open soon. Then! A woman got up and said "Oh for Pete's sake, no one is going to get up for her?!" Then she told me she has vertigo which is why she was hesitant to get up but she couldn't watch me stand there. I felt horrible because I felt fine and had good stable shoes on but I was so appreciative of it. Sometimes I would turn people down for seats if I had a stable place to stand because I was worried about overheating (sitting down when the place was packed full of people standing around me really gave me the shakes!). But people should offer, no matter what. :)

    1. Wow, that's such an interesting story! It's almost as though that woman's own "disability" made her more sensitive and attuned to yours at the time. Lots to think about there.

      I never thought about the overheating factor. That would be a very good reason why some pregnant women don't accept seats!

  2. I think that another part of it is that people find accepting charity to be humiliating and can often get upset if offered it considering it an implied judgement of weakness. It's built up a warriness in others to not offer charity for fear of being insulting.

    I think the best way to work to hange this is to really praise and affirm people who do act charitably. I try to be very gracious to men and women who hold the door for me and people who let me go ahead of them in line, in the hope that it will encourage them to keep up the great work.

    1. That's such a great point about how hard it can be to accept "charity." This morning, when I accepted a seat from a student, of course I thought of this blog post and the thought crossed my mind that in spite of my stated desire for a seat, accepting it was so much more humbling than I expected. Truly—the word "humbling" kept going through my head! I wonder if maybe that is part of the beauty of accepting help, since it kind of forces us to acknowledge our own weaknesses and let go of pride a little bit?

      Love your thought about thanking those who act charitably. I made a point of thanking both students who offered me seats today, even though I only accepted one. Hopefully thanking people for things like that can slowly help build a more charitable world, one person at a time!

  3. I am a former dancer and have always had good balance - but you'd better believe that I accepted seats quite happily while pregnant!!! I gained nearly 50 lbs and standing was so tiring. And I was huge in summer. So hot. One time we were waiting to be seated at a restaurant and all these high school kids were taking all the bench seats. My husband was more irritated than me and went all Hulk-protective-husband by pointedly grabbing a chair from the patio and bringing it in for me while letting the door slam. I was appreciative though slightly embarrassed that everyone stared at us. Haha. Oh well. I think some women decline offers for various reasons but I personally never minded people's thoughtfulness!

  4. Here in London expectant mothers are encouraged to wear a 'baby on board' badge. That way there's no confusion or doubt as to whether you should offer your seat!

    1. That's a genius idea! I bet it really helps to eliminate the awkwardness.