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Pregnant and waiting for a seat

So I am nine months pregnant. Four days past my due date and have gained XX pounds (Not everything requires full disclosure).

I write about public transit for the Washington Post so riding trains and buses is a huge part of my job and it's how I generally get around town.

But being pregnant has given me a different perspective, especially when it comes to who gives up their seat when they see a rather large, obviously pregnant lady lumbering into a train car.

During my eighth month, I was sitting in the Metro seats reserved for senior citizens and those who are handicapped when a middle-aged woman who appeared to have a vision impairment boarded with a cane and guide dog. I stood up and told her she could have my seat.

We bumped into each other as the train was moving and she politely asked, "Are you pregnant?" I told her yes. She smiled and said she couldn't take a seat from a pregnant lady.

For three stops, we debated who should take the only seat on the packed train. A woman in her 40s, seated a few rows back, stood up and said, "I can't take it anymore, seeing a pregnant lady and a blind woman argue over who should give up a seat. Take mine."

Another time, a friend's husband and I boarded a rather full rail car during the evening rush hour. In a rather loud voice he said — "Excuse me, my friend here is very pregnant. Can someone give up their seat, please?"

Three people in the first row of seats looked up. Two businessmen looked me dead in the eye and then looked back down to their newspapers. A 30-something professional woman appeared to glance at me and then look back out the window.

I'm certainly not the first to have interesting experiences riding public transportation while pregnant. In chatting with another pregnant rider one morning on the Red Line, we both had come to a wholly unscientific conclusion on who's most likely to give up their seat to a pregnant woman:

• Young African-American men. They've been quick to spring from their seats, regardless if they're engrossed in music or reading.

• Middle-aged women. I'm guessing it's because they remember what it feels like to carry a bowling ball with swollen feet and an achy back.

Not quite so generous:

• 20-something women. Usually they're too busy texting to look up. If they do, it is a look of "I-don't-notice-you-or-your-large-belly."

• Middle-aged white guys. I've had one offer me his seat. More often they've looked away. I once had a man snarl when I bumped his arm while trying to move to the center of a rail car.

Let me note, this is not an indictment of young women or white men. I happen to be a relatively young woman, married to a white man. It's simply the observation of a couple of larger than normal, at times irritable, pregnant women just waiting to get these kids out. (Editor's note: The author gave birth last week to a healthy girl.)

© 2012 Washington Post

Pregnant and waiting for a seat 06/16/12 [Last modified: Saturday, June 16, 2012 4:30am]
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