So it’s only a “real” pregnancy when your belly is huge. Right.

I technically live two metro stops away from work right now (hopefully not for long – for reasons I’d rather not get into at the moment), but since the Park Kultury station serving the brown circle line has been closed for renovation until the end of the year (!!!!!!!!!!), I prefer to take the bus these days.

Due to freak car accidents on the Garden Ring road, the bus isn’t always reliable, so I’m always absurdly grateful when it actually comes. I wasn’t feeling so grateful today, though, not after a host of angry older women, or babushkas, got on at the stop immediately after mine. They were all together in a group, and they were all furious with something.  In Moscow, that’s not a rare sight.

Here I was, minding my own business, not harming anyone, listening to The Sessions, and otherwise enjoying my morning, when a representative of the Angry Older Women Group accosted me, speaking loud enough to drown out the band:

“Young woman! Why don’t you give up your seat?!”

“Um, I’m 4 months pregnant and my back hurts. I’m sorry, but I’m not giving up my seat.”

“Well! You don’t LOOK very pregnant to me!”

Getting up, I delivered a swift roundhouse kick to her face, proceeding then to…

OK, no, what I actually did I started screaming. I screamed the following, I believe:

“I’m wearing a winter coat! You want me to strip naked? Because I will! I’m so sick of you people! Mind your own business!”

The reason why I screamed this last bit has to do with the fact that I already had a bitchy encounter with a mall security guard recently. He wanted me to push a huge cart loaded with random crap away from the main doors – a cart that wasn’t even mine (he  got it in his head that it was mine and then decided I was lying about it. I was hanging around inside the doors, waiting for my husband).

I said:

“It’s not even my cart, I’m not pushing it out of the way even if it was. I’m pregnant and that cart is huge.”

“You’re not noticeably pregnant!”

“Well as it happens, I have a dated note from my ULTRASOUND TECHNICIAN, WANT TO SEE IT?!”

I later told him that he better not complain when someone treats his wife or sister like he treated me. He tried arguing that he hadn’t meant to be rude. Right. At least the representative of the Angry Older Women Cabal just walked away, lips pursed.

The point of all this is – you don’t need to be visibly pregnant to experience physical challenges.

Oh, and people are dicks.

12 thoughts on “So it’s only a “real” pregnancy when your belly is huge. Right.

  1. 1) congratulations!
    2) Yes. People are dicks. There are definitely rare occasions where it should be totally acceptable to punch a little old lady in the face.
    3) I made it a point to use those ‘For expectant mothers and women with children (how’s that for problematic gender-role assumptions?’) parking spots when I was about 5 weeks along.

  2. Early on in a pregnancy it can be hell – morning sickness (afternoon sickness, evening sickness) was awful for me for about a month and a half. I hope nobody gave you trouble for using those parking spaces. People forget that the first and second trimester have their own challenges.

  3. I had exactly *one* experience of being offered a seat on public transit during my first pregnancy in Berlin. The one person who offered had a disability that impaired her mobility. The whole rest of my visibly pregnant months, I got pushed and jostled just like everyone else on the subways and buses.

    Don’t expect the babushkas to be any kinder once you’re 8 months along! They will, however, likely overflow with judgmental advice once your little one is born. Older women frequently told me that my son needed a hat – never mind that he ripped it off as soon as I put it on him.

    Some people just don’t have enough going on in their own lives …

  4. What I like about the Angry Older Women incident is that it shows how the perennial fussiness of old school Russian intelligentsia about politeness, propriety etc can go hand in hand with – to the point of being indistinguishable from – good old school Russian хамство… that is if there was any интелигентность to speak of there, doesn’t necessarily sound this way

  5. People in Moscow tend to be good about offering seats to pregnant women – which is nice. Also, I just to ask. I even ask to get seated early when I’m at the theatre – I just don’t care after a while. I got over my shyness when my back started hurting.

  6. In London, on the Tube, you can actually get a big badge to wear informing others of your pregnancy and hopefully encourage some people to give up their seat.

    I don’t want to break your heart, but even when you are poppingly pregnant, people will still ignore you and be generally inconsiderate.

    I heard a fabulous story about a heavily pregnant women on the Tube. The carriage was full, so she had to stand between the seats. The gentleman sat down in front of her, not only failed to offer her a seat, but proceeded to lean his newspaper against her bump and start reading. At which point, she grabbed the newspaper from him, screwed it up into a ball and threw it back at him. Magnificent.

  7. People are assholes anyway (assholes to old ladies, to people with canes the list goes on), but I do find Russia more hospitable to the *idea* of motherhood, much like parts of the ME are. Like, I remember local women and foreigners alike breastfeeding in public in Dubai, and no one bothering them. North Carolina? Totally different story.

    A friend of mine was once asked to give up her seat by an old lady while she was 8 months pregnant in Moscow. They ended up getting into a polemic as to why so many young men don’t give up their old seats – “it’s because you raised them wrong,” my friend said.

  8. Babushkas … this is a largely underestimated Slavic speciality. I got acquainted with them when visiting my in-laws in Siberia (I’m French). They are everywhere, telling you in which row to sit down with your child in the circus, scowling drunkards, asking you what you are up to, telling you where the toilets are when you do not need them…
    To their credit, they sort of make up for the generalized indifference and apathy of the post-soviet era…
    Don’t give up the fight, though!

  9. Yeah, breastfeeding was no big deal in Germany, either – unlike the U.S., where I was told to feed my baby in the bathroom. I think that happens to almost every breastfeeding mother in the U.D. if you keep at it for at least f few months.

  10. I once stood on a train, eight monthes pregnant, not being offered a seat and phoned my husband. ‘Yes, I am on a train,’ I said loudly. ‘No, nobody has stood up for me. Yes, I do feel awful. Yes, a bit like I might faint.’

    Someone stood up.

    Actually, that was the one time I had trouble in London, the rest of the time people were pretty good.

    My Mum was impressed by Moscow. She walks with a stick and people used to leap out of theirs to offer her places. She said that didn’t often happen in the UK.

    Still, this time round I felt far far worse in the first 12 weeks than I do now and could definitely have done with more consideration, except short of telling people… I clearly need that sticker.

  11. Ohh Natalia, you poor thing!

    I had to stand up on a bus (a fast one! Nearly killed myself every time it braked, hung on for dear life!) at 8 months pregnant, with a buncha young guys sitting everywhere. I was damn livid.

    Several people told me (all throughout my pregnancy), I just looked fat, not pregnant. HAHAHAHA, so is that funny or what? Whether I looked fat or pregnant, became the subject under discussion, practically as I went into labor.

    Yes, dicks is the word!

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