|My TfL issued badge, and favorite scarf|
It will come as no surprise that in the years before fertility treatments, when we knew they were on the horizon, or in the period of doing treatments, I hated seeing these. Hated them. They seemed so damn self-satisfied and obnoxious, like 'oh look at you, pregnant, and now advertising it.' Stupid cow.*
Suffice to say I had a bit of a hard time working up to wearing one. But then hyperemesis hit, and then pelvic girdle pain, crippling exhaustion and insane acid reflux. Twin pregnancy is kind of no joke, or maybe it's just that I'm a weakling and would be the same with one.
And I had to back-track, to completely reevaluate my hatred of these jaunty little badges. After a particularly rough trip home one evening, where I stood wedged in between sneezing commuters at rush hour and then nearly threw up on the platform, I decided to give in.
For the first few weeks of wearing it I would literally put it on right before getting on the tub/bus/train, and take it off again straight afterwards lest anyone see me out of context and think I was somehow bragging. Then I kept losing the badges and slowly started leaving them on.
Now it's just kind of on my coat all the time, almost unnoticed except the guilt and weird imposter-ness it makes me feel when I think about it too much.
But even in the midst of all the angst about it there have been these amazing moments too. Where nice people have seen me and quickly stood to give me their seat (again, I'm enormous already so I suppose maybe I don't even need the badge), or in crowded trains someone - usually a 30- or 40-something woman also standing, has asked someone else to give me their seat.**
It actually almost makes me cry every time.
Wearing this little piece of plastic has taken on this weighty meaning for me. It meant claiming some sort of identity as a pregnant lady, and not just that but one that needed others' help. That needed some form of protection that I don't know that I really wanted to claim, but my body forced me into.
I think the insecurity is about this idea of 'passing' - no one on the train knows my story or the unusual and emotional route that we used to get here. And of course I'm not going to tell them in that context.
But it disturbs me that a woman or man on that train could see me and think I'm some smug fertile, advertising my big belly and expecting others to look after me.
There's all these milestones now, like starting ante-natal classes or going to maternity fitness (which has been mixed, hilarious but also making me vomit each time), where I'm surrounded by 'normal' pregnant ladies.
I don't know how to be one of them, and yet they don't really know that I'm not.
*Yes, I am a terrible, mean person.
** This cute lady the other day totally shamed this random hipster when she forced him to get up for me, he looked so embarrassed and kept saying 'I'm so sorry! I didn't even see you there...'