Monday, July 27, 2009

Pregnant Privileges Revoked

Pregnancy has very few advantages for the mom. Even if she has an easy pregnancy (which I was not blessed with), a pregnant woman gets the honor of spending nearly a year as the host to an increasingly aggressive parasite, a parasite that causes the host to grow extremely large and uncomfortable, destroys its body, and requires it to undergo frequent and increasingly invasive medical procedures. And the list of joys that are forbidden (alcohol, soft cheeses, and sushi to say the least) makes for a miserable nine months.

Yet women often look back to their pregnancy with a certain amount of nostalgia. Why?

The Pregnancy Privileges.

I was in my 6th month before it was obvious to outsiders that I was pregnant. Immediately I noticed a change in the way I was treated. People let me cut in front of them in line and held doors for me. People gave up their seats in waiting areas. I was seated faster and given better tables in restaurants; one server even gave me a free dessert as my husband enjoyed his after dinner drink! Many stores even provide priority parking for pregnant women and parents of infants, and I quickly became accustomed to having parking rights that rivaled those of the handicapped. It wasn't long before I was strolling into Starbucks with my belly pushed out, expecting strangers to let me pass to get my decaf latte.

Why do pregnant women get this special treatment? I'd like to think that it's a sign of respect for the work that mothers are doing. In reality, it probably boils down to one of two things: pity or fear. Pity because another mother or father sees the preggo and remembers how tough pregnancy can be. Fear because a pregnant woman is a delicate creature, and the slightest shaking can cause her to shatter and explode, destroying everything within a 500 foot radius of her epicenter. And pregnant women come to expect the special treatment, even in situations that are not affected by her pregnancy (I frequently got angry that people wouldn't let me in in traffic -- Don't they know that I'm pregnant?!?!?!)

It's not long after giving birth that the privileges are rapidly revoked. I remember going to the pediatrician the day after being released from the hospital after having a c-section. I was shocked that no one in the packed waiting room jumped up to give me their seat. I needed to ask the nurses if I could sit down when I started seeing stars, and even then it took a moment for them to realize why I needed the assistance. Was I already back among the common non-pregnant folk, a mere five days post-partum? Alas, I was.

And of course, when you have a baby is when you actually need those privileges. It's when you've been up three times the night before a big presentation at work that you need to be let to the front of the line at Starbucks. It's when you run out of diapers at 3 a.m. in a blizzard that you really need to park as close as possible to Wal-Mart.

Today I went to the grocery store. Several stores in the area have parking spots for families with infants -- the mommy spots -- which I always take full advantage of. When I pulled in, both spots were taken. When I walked past (having had to park halfway down the lot), I checked out the offending cars. One was a minivan -- probably a legitimate occupant. The other car was a little hatchback occupied by a teenager smoking a cigarette and talking on her cell phone.

My first reaction was to be angry at her obvious disregard for the needs of new parents. My second reaction was a knowing smile. Because in ten years, she'll have to park halfway down the lot and hike back to the store in 95 degree heat carrying her grocery bags and a squirming, screaming baby. Why? Because some teenager will have parked in the mommy spot. Karma's a bitch that way.


  1. Due to international exposure, we've always assumed your preggo destruction area to be about 250 meters.

  2. Mommy spots? Why have I not seen these in Seattle? Ikea is the only place that has them! I do agree though...those priveledges should be saved for the days of having a newborn!! I was fully capable when I was preggo, but now I usually only have 2 arms & 10 things to carry. NOW is when I need help opening doors! When I have a crying baby while I'm waiting in line, THAT is when I should be allowed to cut! Sigh...if only, huh?

  3. We only have them on base and at babies r us. I wish that there were more! I love the post and agree with a 100% of it!