No one budges or dares to look up. I softly sigh and desperately try to make eye contact with the other humans on my train. I position myself in the middle of the car where the largest number of eyes have the greatest chance of running into my form. Perchance our eyes meet, and I will follow up with my best, “my whole body hurts but it sure is worth it” unassuming Mother Earth smile. If I’m feeling silly, I’ll stand head on to the sitters so that my pregnancy is literally staring someone in the face. On braver days, I may mouth the words, “Can I sit?”
At 39 weeks pregnant—that means for practical purposes that I am at all times carrying a full term baby with just my pelvis—my belly cannot be ignored. And yet it seems to have magical, hypnotic powers. Upon sight, those lucky seated become oh-so-sleepy, or entranced by screens. Once through those turnstiles, I become invisible, watermelon fetus and all.
I take the subway at least twice a day, five days a week, and can count on my hands the number of times I’ve been offered a seat during my third trimester. What the hell is going on, New York? Why do so few people offer a seat to a pregnant woman?