Friday, 21 October 2011
Baby on Board
I am nearly 17 weeks pregnant, and although I think it's pretty obvious by now that I have a baby on board, I have opted to wear the above badge that Transport for London makes to avoid any confusion on my daily commute to and from work. So far, it has worked, and usually someone kindly offers me their seat, which I gladly accept (especially this week, as the sciatica I experienced with my first pregnancy has come back with a vengeance).
However, I still find it amazing how possessive some people are when it comes to seats on the train. Even with the badge, I'm a bit uncomfortable asking people outright for a seat (maybe when I'm seven or eight months pregnant it will be a different story), but I do make an obvious show of moving right inside the carriage and, when possible, making eye contact with people. For the most part, it works, but earlier this week a woman looked right at me, then at my badge, then back at me, and then lowered her head and closed her eyes as if to pretend she was asleep. I sighed audibly and rolled my eyes, at which point the woman next to her offered me her seat, but I felt sort of guilty accepting it. Then this evening a woman offered me her seat, apologizing profusely for not noticing me earlier (she noticed when she looked up in between stations instead of when I got on the train). I assured her it was fine and that I appreciated it. The man standing next to her said, "It's a shame it has to be you to offer a seat" and then gave a disapproving look to the man next to me, who hadn't even budged from his seat. A pregnant colleague of mine, who is just a few weeks further along than me, asked a man last week if she could sit down (proudly displaying her badge at the time). He reluctantly got up and then said, "So much for equality of the sexes."
I can understand being reluctant to give up your seat for someone who "looks" pregnant because there have been situations where passengers have made embarrassing mistakes in that regard. It can be a bit like asking someone "When are you due?", only to be told "I'm not pregnant, thank you." A male colleague of mine, on hearing me refer to my pregnancy recently, congratulated me and then apologized for not saying anything earlier because he had always thought it best to wait until two weeks after the baby was born to offer congratulations to avoid awkward assumptions. But this badge eliminates any doubt, so as far as I'm concerned, common courtesy is to relinquish your seat without too much fuss.