I was waiting for the subway the other night when I realized my lower back ached. Then the train pulled up and although it was 9 p.m., it was packed. I squeezed my way on, found a spot about half way down the car, and stationed myself in front of a couple of riders buried in books and/or listening to iPods. I grabbed the bar overhead, sighed loudly, and pulled my cardigan to the side to expose the bump.
Then I realized what I was doing. Somehow, I'd subconsciously slipped back into old habits from my first pregnancy. And it was then I realized why. I feel pregnant again. Not the happy go lucky "can't wait for my bump to show!" pregnant. But pregnant pregnant.
Going through a pregnancy in an uber urban environment like NYC is both great and awful. It's great in that everything is convenient and many of my basic necessities can be found within 3 blocks of my apartment. It's awful in that I don't have a comfortable, private car I can slip into when I need to go somewhere. In fact, we haven't owned a car since 2003. While I enjoy it most of the time (no car payments! No insurance! No repairs!), there are certainly moments that I hate it. A lot.
During my last pregnancy, I had it much worse than I do now. I worked full-time and commuted an hour each way, from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side. I had to take one crowded train, transfer to another even more crowded, then walk a mile from the train to work. At the end of the day, I'd repeat the routine and outside of that sweet spot in the middle of the second trimester, would usually arrive home from work, collapse on the couch, and wait for my husband to bring me a snack. This time around, I only work part-time and my half-hour commute includes daycare drop-off and a guaranteed seat on an uncrowded bus.
When you talk to other pregnant women about their experiences with commuting, responses tend to run the gamut. Some women find they are either able to get a seat or are offered a seat on public transit more days than not, while others claim they are never, ever offered a seat, no matter the train or bus (which, frankly, I don't buy -- New Yorkers aren't, stereotypically, the friendliest folks around, but, really? So rarely that it truly feels like never?).
My luck, anecdotally, has been up and down. Some weeks are good, some bad. Some train lines better than others. But, overall, there have only been a handful of occasions in 1.5 pregnancies where I have felt I desperately needed a seat and was unable to get one. And for that, I am grateful.
What worries me more about simply traveling pregnant, however, is traveling pregnant with a toddler. Already, it's getting very difficult to lift my kiddo's stroller and carry it either up or down the subway stairs (and probably not terribly safe either, for a myriad of reasons), but if I have to go somewhere, I have to make it work and there aren't always people around offering to help you with your stuff. We've been babywearing a bit more lately because while carrying a 25-pound kid on my back isn't ideal either, it is still far easier than carrying a 25-pound kid in a 15-pound stroller up and down several flights of stairs. My back aches just thinking about it.
I'm hoping we can get through to the end of this pregnancy and remain mobile. I'd like to be able to get on the train with Poppy and go to other neighborhoods for fun and adventure or into Manhattan to catch lunch with daddy. But I have a feeling that come 7 and 8 and 9 months of pregnancy, brutal winter cold, and a reliance on public transit, we're far more likely to find ourselves in the close confines of our local neighborhood.
Did you commute while pregnant -- either by car, public transit, or otherwise? What was your experience like?