Badge of Honour

12 Jul

There is nothing I like doing less than travelling on London Underground. It is the transport equivalent of hell and has not one redeeming feature. It is stiflingly hot, regardless of the season. You are crammed into a tiny space much like a claustrophobic sardine. You often feel what is definitely a stranger’s penis pressed into your back, such is the close proximity you are forced into. Stress levels are so high that most people are on the verge of punching the person whose face is pressed up against theirs. Plus if like me you have an over active imagination, you’re constantly in fear of being crashed into by a runaway tube, or becoming the victim of a terrorist attack.

So it was to my great relief and unbridled excitement that for a few months I would be wearing my ‘badge of honour’. My ‘I don’t have to stand under your smelly armpit and feel like I’m going to pass out, I get special treatment, I get a seat’ ‘Baby on Board’ badge. Amazing right? Wrong.

For the first 12 weeks of pregnancy you can’t tell anyone. This means you can’t wear the badge in case you bump into anyone you know whilst on the train/tube. You also don’t look pregnant so no one will offer you a seat.

Unfortunately this, as all preggers ladies will tell you, is when you most need it. You’re exhausted, you feel sick, you feel that if you have to stand for one more second you will lie down on the floor of the tube, curl up around a pole and make yourself a bed with the coat you aren’t wearing because it’s too hot.  Actually if you did this in London people would be too scared to look at you for fear that you are a crazy person and would probably just move aside to give you more room.

Ok, so it gets to week 12 and rather excitedly I head to the little office in Liverpool Street Station and ask for my badge.  I had thought I’d need to convince them I was pregnant by showing some sort of documentation (I didn’t have any) or pushing my bump in their face. But no, they just handed two over. I should have got one years ago.

So, the next morning I trot off excitedly to the train station (I have to get the train before the tube – double the joy). Hubby too is rather buoyed by the badge and keeps looking at it and touching it, checking it’s in place. Perhaps we need to get out more.

On the train we go, fully expecting to be given a seat. But no. Not one person offers me their seat.  This is not what I expected. Not at all. I try adjusting the badge, fiddling with it to make it more obvious. Still nothing. I start looking at people whilst touching the badge. They pretend they haven’t seen me and look away. Hubby looks at me with despair in his eyes as the disappointment radiates through both of us. Hubby, who is of the quieter reserved breed, looks at me and his sad eyes say it all. ‘This isn’t what we expected is it darling?’ I, being of the more vocal breed, say rather loudly ‘people are so rude. They can clearly see the badge’. This doesn’t work either.

As we get off the train and head for the tube I’m hoping that perhaps the tube will be different. Perhaps those that sit on a train every day – trudging along on a slow locomotive as they do their daily commute to a job they hate – are simply blind to a lady with a baby. Even I, cynical to my very core, refuse to believe people can be that rude.

Oh but they are. Not only is chivalry dead, but so too it would seem are manners.  For no one gives me their seat. I am outraged.

I relay this to a colleague who is equally outraged, more so because he has had an argument with a ‘gentleman’ on a tube over a pregnant lady that very morning. Having already given up his seat for a pregnant woman, he noticed another pregnant woman standing up to whom no one was offering their seat. He guessed she was about 8 months pregnant. On noticing this he asked the ‘gentleman’ if he was going to offer her his seat. To which the man turned around and replied “No. Why should I? I’ve paid for my seat like everyone else”. Unbelievable. Who is this man?! I was incensed.

I’m sure many men would disagree, and I hope they would, but in my experience so far it has more often been women who have offered their seat.  I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps women, being those that actually give birth, are more sensitive to other pregnant women. Perhaps they’re not so blind to another person on the morning commute and notice the badge. Perhaps men are not convinced by the badge and are terrified of suggesting a woman may be pregnant when in fact she is overweight?

On a recent holiday to Turkey when I was 21 weeks pregnant all I had to do was put my hand on my stomach and every male in the vicinity stood up. And I wasn’t even wearing a badge. Maybe it’s a cultural thing?

Whatever it is, just stand up. Or I may sit on you.

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8 Responses to “Badge of Honour”

  1. Caroline Kilgannon July 12, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    i couldn’t find anyone to give me a badge but when I went on many tubes with my little boy the other day on a busy Saturday with a pretty noticeable bump no-one offered me a seat, maybe it’s just me but I was surprised x

    • mum-to-be July 15, 2012 at 7:36 am #

      That’s outrageous! Especially with a little one as well. People really do astound me x

  2. Rosie H July 12, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

    I found it was women and older men who offered. I heard of someone who tried the line, “If there are any men here who aren’t X months pregnant, would one of them mind offering me a seat?” Good luck anyway!

    • mum-to-be July 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Great line! I am so trying that one!

  3. Gill Crawshaw July 15, 2012 at 7:20 am #

    I found it really random – some days I’d have the whole carriage leaping up to offer me a seat, and others everyone would look the other way and be really, really interested in reading the Metro. Isn’t it funny how a giant baby bump can suddenly render you invisible?! x

    • mum-to-be July 15, 2012 at 7:35 am #

      I know! The worst is when someone buries their head in their Metro! I honestly thought people would be more ready to give up their seats. I’m seriously going to start sitting on people’s laps x

  4. 16 weeks to go July 18, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    I’m at the same stage as you and have actually had somebody (young,fit and able bodied) clock me and then take a seat ahead of me…twice. That’s when I feel really indignant.

    • mum-to-be July 18, 2012 at 11:55 am #

      Outrageous. Push them out of the way next time. Or sit on them. Some poeple are so bloody rude!

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