Monday, 25 February 2013

Baby On Board

I had a real problem with Baby On Board badges.

For those of you not UK or London-based Baby On Board badges are given out free by Transport For London. The idea is that pregnant women can wear them in the hope that they will prompt someone on the bus of tube to relinquish their seat for you when otherwise they might not realise you are pregnant because you aren't showing, or are too embarrassed to give you their seat assuming you are pregnant in case it turns out you are simply fat.

Despite, rationally, seeing the need for them I have irrationally hated these badges for years. To me women were wearing them less because they needed a seat and more as a smug way to advertise their knocked-up state long before their belly betrayed it.

Then I got pregnant, and my pregnancy coincided with starting a commute. Remember how I winged about the train journey to work from my sister's? What you didn't know at the time was those first journey's dovetailed beautifully with my first forays into morning sickness.

I didn't have a badge at that point, and I cursed that fact as I hauled myself onto heaving trains. Until that, is I spotted several other women squashed against the doors - badges clearly visible to all but the shiny-suited, pointy-shoed, fat-tie-wearing young men clinging to their hard-won seats.

Recently I gave in to my sickness and started to pin the offending badge to my own lapel. Not as you might assume to ensure I get a seat - now that I have moved from the popular depths of South London to the less-commuterville North I usually get a seat.

However on two occasions I have been sick whilst on the bus - I've been discreet and kept all vomit into the bags that I won't now leave the house without. Numerous times I have spent the journey quietly, but visibly, retching. I like to wear the badge to indicate to my fellow passengers that the cause of my anti-social behaviour is womb and hormone related rather than norovirus, dysentery or the black death.

It has also enabled me to see the kinder side of London life. A bloke jumped up once to offer me his seat, despite there being plenty further down the bus and the other day, as I got up to get off the bus, a woman spotted my badge and literally squealed with delight "A baby!!! How wonderful!" Which, as you can imagine, made me feel like a right bitch as I remembered every time I've seen a badge and moodily averted my gaze.


  1. You poor woman - I feel awful for you wretching stoically on your way to work even if it is in the best cause. That's fecking miserable.

    Wear the badge, pet. Milk that thing, you deserve it.

    I have to confess to a similar irrational hatred of the baby on board car signs. Or heaven forend, princess. Gah. I am not entirely heartless, I do see how people might feel nervous about transporting a small baby around. It's just the idea that I would otherwise drive like a maniac knocking elderly people flying. Etc etc. I am seriously thinking of making my own. Please drive carefully! Middle-aged Kerryman on board.

  2. Both pregnant, and later with a child, I've found it fascinating how people on public transportation have responded. Dutch people in general are not going to be interested in giving up their seats for pregnant or infirm people unless the case is really egregious. At the time, I was commuting 2.5 hours (1 tram, 1 metro, 2-3 trains) one way, and I got very good at passively-aggressively ensuring that I got a seat, because I simply was not up to standing for very long!

    Now that I'm often out with a stroller, it's also interesting to see how people react in terms of helping me get on and off, or getting out of the stroller-designate spaces so I can safely park. About a year ago we were in London for the weekend, and found that even with the upcoming Olympics, most main London tube stations are not accessible. I had the stroller, my husband had the suitcase, so we were not really able to get up and down stairs ourselves. We had two very different experiences: Friday morning, somewhat after off-peak hours had started, every single set of stairs that we stopped at, someone would, often without asking, simply pick up the front wheel and head up or down the stairs as required. Often it was a suited business man, but not always. Often it was people going the same direction as us, but again, not always, sometimes people would turn and go back up the stairs having just come down them, just to help us.

    We were then heading back out Sunday evening around 7:00pm, and absolutely no one stopped to help. A very different crowd of people!

  3. I think you have very good reason to wear the badge and be given a seat! Bless your heart for dealing with morning sickness while commuting! I hope it passes quickly for you!

    (Love your blog! Read your about me page...I'm a twin too :) Love having a wombmate!)

  4. Hopefully they have got a bit better at handing them out. Last time I needed one you had to wait till 20 weeks by which time I wasn't vomiting copiously anymore and could stand if I had to. Which I did as I could count on the fingers of my two hands the amount of times someone volunteered their seat on my commute. American tourists were always flabbergasted that people weren't leaping up to hand their seats over. I had a number of them insist to the slimy suit boys that they get the hell up.

    I have a coat whic if I am slouching badly makes me look about 7 months pregnant I confess that I do take any seat that gets given to me when I wear it - I consider it payback.

  5. As a once-pregnant commuting new yorker I'm utterly bemused by the idea of the MTA (our transportation authority) dispensing those pins. It's a bit more of the wild west over here. But I will give my fellow commuters credit -- I was almost always offered a seat, after I unbuttoned my big coat to reveal that I was the size of a small volkswagen. So my advice? wear the button and stare down those who ignore you. Or bump their newspapers with your stomach. And I do hope the nausea abates soon!!

  6. My goodness it sounds like you have hideous sickness, you're a better woman than I, I was discovered anti nausea meds when hospitalised for a nasty bout of norovirus mixed in with pregnancy sickness (nice) and I couldn't have them prized out of my desperate hands until the baby was out. Definitely make the most of the badge! Hope you feel better soon.

  7. I've always rather liked 'baby on board' badges. I give up my seat and then feel SELF-RIGHTEOUS AS ALL HELL for hours afterwards. Me! An Infertile! Being thoughtful despite the infertility! Hahahaha! Good golly, but I'm unbearable. Sorry.

    Oh, but the puking sounds horrible. You poor woman. Much sympathy.

  8. I wore that badge every day from 13 weeks to 32 weeks, whilst commuting into London Bridge from SE London. I promised my team I would buy goodies every time someone gave me a seat - I only bought goodies six times.... Eventually I just got brazen and asked people for their seats. Whenever someone did give me their seat without being asked though, it would make me want to cry. Bloody hormones. Invariably for me though, I found it was women who gave up their seat more than men.

    Hope the sickness has eased now for you....

  9. It's good to hear that Americans are good for something. :)

    I feel bad enough that you have to commute via public transportation (my husband drove me to work almost every day when I was pregnant), but to do so while vomiting...unbearable! You are very brave to manage it!

  10. Yuck. Morning sickness and trains! Get that badge on and grab a seat. I like the idea of taking the guess work out of it and hopefully laying on the shame so able bodied people get up and move for you.
    I used to hate those baby on board car signs for lots of reasons. But now, my crappy car sports one of them, for safety (because it really is a crap car but the million dollar baby didn't leave much over for new cars) and to explain to other drivers why I am suddenly driving like a biddy. It's not really to warn them to drive safely near me.

  11. Haven't commented lately but wanted to pipe in and say I'm soo soo thrilled for you about this pregnancy!!


  12. So sorry that you're suffering with such awful sickness and hoping that you're able to be done with this part soon!

  13. I say wear that badge with pride! After all you've gone through to get that little Doug, you should be able to wear a badge and get a seat on the public transport. I feel your pain on the nausea/vomiting. I carried a zip-tight bag with me for the 1st 4m in case I needed to hurl when there was no trash can or toilet available.

    Maybe you can modify the badge so you're more comfortable with it?

  14. I so understand the irrational hatred, but I'm glad you get to wear this badge now -- although I do hope the sickness is getting better!


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