Amid the many bundled bodies in the subway car, I noticed hers. There was just a slight bulge in her down winter coat — small enough that it could be chalked up to a large meal or good ol’ belly fat. But there was something about the way her husband, standing behind her, rested his hands on either side of her waist — something protective … and it told me all I needed to know.
From my seated position, I raised my head in the direction of her face and whispered, “Excuse me, are you … ” and then made a circular motion over my own torso with my hand.
“Yes,” she replied, clearly a little surprised. I offered my seat, insisting, “You should sit! I’ve been there.”
I have what I like to call, “pregdar.” I instantly spot pregnant women on public transportation, even if they’re all the way across a crowded car. If no one nearby offers them a seat, I wave them over and offer mine.
Here’s where I’d like to stress that I’m no saint. On occasion, I may go out of my way to be nice to people, but I wouldn’t say I’m much more compassionate than the average human being. What I do possess in abundant amounts, however, is guilt. Because I know exactly how it feels to be the uncomfortable pregnant woman standing on a bus or train, I feel incredibly guilty when I see other women doing it while I do nothing.
Trust me when I say I’d prefer to be the one sitting during my commute. The shoulder bag that holds my laptop is heavy, my back is tired from mornings spent wrestling my toddler into clothes, and really, I’d like nothing better than to settle into a seat — no matter how narrow and un-cushioned — to play a nice game of Candy Crush. But the guilt … oh, the guilt! It hounds me if I do nothing, and so I give up my seat.
I wish more people had “pregdar.” Call me naïve, but I believe the reason that many people don’t give up their seats is because they simply don’t notice. They’re not looking for pregnant women; they’re too preoccupied with making sure they get off at the right station, mentally preparing for presentations at work or playing their own games of Candy Crush.
I’m not sure there is a way to remedy this except to remind the general public that pregnant women exist — about 4 million babies are born in the U.S. every year, and last I checked, they were all birthed by ladies, not robots. So when the many pregnant women of the country do things like ride on trains and buses, they’d appreciate a little consideration because carrying around a little life inside your uterus takes a lot out of a person.
I wish more people had pregdar — and then acted on it — because there’s something wrong when a half dozen or so seated travelers immediately surrounding a standing, visibly pregnant woman don’t give up their seats …. though I’ll give just about everyone a pass for failing to notice a small-bumped pregnant woman in a heavy winter coat. That’s an easy miss, except, of course, for me, apparently. Sigh. Anyone want to pat me on my aching back?
I shouldn’t complain too much. In the grand scheme of things, kind acts beat minor comforts any day. So keep doing your thing, my dear pregdar. Candy Crush will have to wait.