Dear bitchy girls (you were actually women, a similar age to me, but you bitched like 14 year olds),
Today, I experienced something that I never thought I would… I was on the train on the way home from work as the three of you bitched about a pregnant friend of yours. And you threw me shade.
You see, someone kindly offered me their seat on the train and I gratefully accepted. I was wearing a ‘baby on board’ badge that TfL provide for free. The badge allows others see that you’d like a seat; without you having the awkwardness of asking people to give up their seats (after all, that person you choose to ask could have their own reasons for needing a chair like a hidden disability).
You saw this happen, you saw me clutching a bottle of lucozade and no doubt clocked that my tummy wasn’t bulging as it would be in the later stages of my difficult pregnancy. This quite blatantly triggered the conversation point about wearing baby on board badges. If the stares and eye rolls weren’t obvious enough; the sighing and tutting at me reinforced it. Each gulp I took of my drink, each wipe of my sweaty brow, and each obvious wave of nausea I experienced, caused you to discuss the topic ever more intensely.
You all proceeded to talk loudly about how ‘disgusting’ it is that some people ‘abuse the baby on board badges’. According to you three, who I can only assume haven’t been pregnant, you should only wear the badge when you are obviously pregnant. You decided that 6 months pregnant was the minimum time frame for this.
You talked, sorry made fun of, a ‘friend’ of yours who was ‘only just 12 weeks pregnant’. She was wearing the badge on her daily commute and taking it off right before getting to work. This was clearly hilarious to you all. Apparently it’s ‘pathetic’ and shows that your friend is just using her badge as an excuse to get a seat on the tube.
What you didn’t know, was that I’m only 10 weeks pregnant. And I’m doing the same thing as not all my colleagues know of my pregnancy yet. Not sharing this amazing news with my colleagues has been a struggle; but the anxiety I have around miscarriage means that I’m not quite ready to tell them. The difficulty we had getting pregnant, and the IVF treatment that ensued, means that I’m reluctant to share our news until we hit 12 weeks. And yet I’m totally over the moon that we’ve managed to get pregnant. For some, it doesn’t happen at all.
And yes, sometimes I desperately need a seat to steady myself. The hormones that swirl around my body cause me to feel the worst I’ve ever felt. The hyperemesis gravidarum that I’ve been diagnosed with, means I’m likely to have to give up work before I really want to.
But I’ll clue you in to something – for some women, the earliest weeks of their pregnancy will be the worst weeks they will ever experience. Fainting, vomiting, feeling weak and out of breath, can really hamper your journey to and from work. Plus every waking second of your day in between.
So by wearing a badge to subtly ask people to give up a seat for you whilst you struggle to maintain your normal life; you’re asking for help you very much need. There’s no need to justify how far along you are just so you can use the badge.
I’ve always held similar opinions to you; and that is now something I’m now incredibly ashamed of. Who are we to judge someone else when they were asking for help? Perhaps instead of judging and laughing at your friend, you could ask her how she’s doing. No, how she’s really doing.
Chances are she’s going to be covering up some of how she really feels because I assume she’s probably not comfortable divulging the fact that she’s not enjoying pregnancy right now. It seems to me that the only people who give up their seats on trains or tubes give me a look of pity and understanding; as maybe they’ve been there, or their wife/partner/sister/friend has been there.
My line manager was recently pregnant, and from what she’s told us, she had a lovely pregnancy. She didn’t experience morning sickness; and she felt well enough to actually turn down the offers of seats on the tubes and trains when she was heavily pregnant. But that’s not the same for everyone.
To anyone who scowls or tuts at me for wearing the badge and not obviously showing yet; you clearly don’t know anyone who’s struggled with horrible pregnancy symptoms.
Previously women would have just stayed at home and kept it under wraps. But it’s the 21st Century. I have a job. I have errands to run. I have a dog to get home to. I’m very lucky that I only have to make it back home in the evening to a lovely husband who’s taking care of me and our home.
Other pregnant women aren’t so lucky. They may not have a partner. Or they may not have a partner who’s taking the weight off once she gets home. Or maybe she’s got one or more other kids to take care of too!
What angers me the most is that I really wish I could have said all this to your faces. But I couldn’t. As my stop was the third stop; I had to push past you all to make my way out. Cue more tutting and sighing. I felt embarrassed and honestly pretty emotional that other women would so openly bitch like that. So I didn’t say anything to you. And I now know that’s wrong.
You see, if no one talks about it then no one knows about it. And if no one knows about it; ignorance just keeps spreading and more pregnant women like me will continue to feel ridiculed.
The very queasy, unsteady 10-week pregnant woman on your train