The cold weather has finally let up for a few days here in NYC. As the trees start to bud, the park is starting to overflow with strollers, nannies and lots of little babies. And as my friend from work reminded me, we’re going to start to see a lot more pregnant bellies now that it’s almost Spring and people are shedding their coats.

She’s so right. On my daily commute, I rarely notice any pregnant women unless I see maternity coats. Other than that, everyone is always bundled up; it’s hard to see beyond the sea of black winter coats.

Since I’m just barely 3 months now, I’m not visibly pregnant yet. With the constant nausea still lingering, daily exhaustion and beginnings of sciatic pain, I feel pregnant. Because I started my pregnancy already rotund, albeit my efforts of trimming down at the gym, I’m sure my appearance is seemingly ambivalent to the unfamiliar eye. That is what I thought… until this morning.

As usual, I rode the bus to the PATH this morning. When I walked out of the bus and down to the PATH, I was hot because of my bulky winter coat. I remember unbuttoning my coat, but leaving the middle button buttoned because I could feel the pressure on my belly. I’m wearing a long green shirt, black camisole, regular jeans and a Bella band under my coat—nothing screaming maternity by any means.

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When I boarded my PATH train, I squeezed between some people and settled for a spot facing a young couple sitting down in the two-seater. I pulled out my iPod, started to watch a video podcast and grabbed the rail above my head when the train started to move.

I remember looking up from my iPod, admiring the couple and smiling subtly. The wife, no older than 35, had no coat on. Her white blouse accented her pregnant belly, which was defined by a white ribbon that tied around the waist of her shirt. Her husband was a well-dressed Suit, who looked liked he was in his mid-30s as well. I admired them as they shared their Times home section, probably browsing at overpriced real estate. I thought to myself, that’d be fun if Jeff and I commuted together every day. And then, I went back to watching my Best Week Ever podcast.

In my peripheral vision, I could see the wife quietly saying something to her husband. I looked up a little and noticed that she was kind of motioning towards my Ipod. Perhaps she’s never seen someone watching a video on the train before? I wasn’t sure.

Not even 2 minutes later, the husband tapped me on my arm, stood up and motioned me to sit down.

“Oh no, no thank you. I’m fine,” I told him.

I’m sure my face resembled the shade of my maroon coat. The way the guy stood in between me and the crowd of other commuters, I had to sit down to avoid any further disorder.

I could feel the Suited girl to the right of me, peering as I sat down. Her stares could have easily translated into, “Why does SHE get a seat and not me? My stilettos are killing me!”

So I sat there for the rest of the 12 min. train ride, trying not to make any more eye contact. I felt embarrassed, but for no particular reason. Maybe it was shock.

On the daily commute, strangers don’t talk. People do whatever is necessary not to touch. But most importantly on my commute, people rarely ever give up seats. In the 6 years that I’ve been commuting via public transportation, I’ve seen no more than 10 people give up their seats for moms with babies and sometimes visibly pregnant women. But never barely pregnant ladies like me.

Even though it would be nice, I don’t expect to sit down just because I’m pregnant. I’m not fragile. Funny enough, I did a little Googling this morning on commuting and pregnant women, and found this interesting article. Apparently, in Japan, they started handing out pregnancy badges to expecting women in hopes of easing their commutes on the train. While it’s nice to know that Japan is doing what they can to accommodate pregnant women unfortunate enough to suffer through their public transportation system, I know that sort of thing would never work in the tri-state area!

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On a daily basis, I see human nature at its worst on my commute. On the commute home, I watch the same middle-aged men, plow small children down just to score a seat on the PATH. The term, “rat race” is often personified by this uncivilized behavior.

 

I’m still not sure what made the nice guy give up his seat. Maybe the wife noticed that I was exhausted and could’ve used a seat. Maybe I was staring too much and they couldn’t take it anymore. Honestly, I feel like it was women’s intuition working here…as if that pregnant wife saw beyond my half-way buttoned coat and knew, that despite my smaller belly, I was expecting just like her. Whatever it was, I was genuinely shocked by their gesture.

Today was a very different day, one that reminded me that there is a lot of good out there—even in the rat race.

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