Amateur Sociology

I take the train to and from work every day. I’ve been riding the train daily since grade 10, so for more years than I want to count.  Calgary Transit sucks pretty bad.  It’s insufficient for a major city, I’m pretty sure it’s the most expensive per ride system in the country, and the light rail train system falls apart every time it snows more than 2mm.  But, it’s still better than driving in the city during rush hour.  The thought alone of having to drive downtown every day gives me an ulcer.  When the train works, it’s actually not that bad.  It’s only 25-30 minutes from my front door to my office door, on a normal day.  (We’ll ignore all the days it takes more than an hour because of who-the-hell-knows-what’s-gone-wrong-today.)  Driving would probably take longer, especially once you factor in parking downtown.  It would certainly cost more.  (Parking downtown Calgary is the most expensive in Canada, last I heard.  There are some downsides of living in a wealthy city.)

Anyway.  I spend a lot of time on the train, and also a lot of time complaining about the train.  Also, reading on the train, pretending that other people on the train don’t exist and trying to breathe through my mouth on the train.  All pretty standard transit routines, I’m sure.

But one thing I’ve been paying a lot of attention to recently is the sociology of ‘Who Will Give The Pregnant Lady A Seat’ and my findings have kind of surprised me.  I’ve been getting a seat consistently since I was about 6 months pregnant – with my belly bursting out of my ill-fitting coat.  Actually, let’s be even more accurate.  Since I was about 7 months pregnant, I have got a seat on the packed trains twice a day.  The only time no one immediately offered, I spoke up.  “Hi, I’m 8 months pregnant, can someone please give me their seats?” Two people stood up instantly. Canadians, right? It also helps that David and I generally ride the train together and our routine is that I look short and very pregnant, and David lurks until someone notices me and offers a seat.  It works pretty well.

The interesting thing who offers me a seat, and who does not.  Before I got pregnant and started paying attention to this (beyond, you know, offering pregnant ladies and old people a seat the rare time I had one), my guess about who would offer a seat would run something like: women in their 30s, women in the 40s, women in their 50s, men of any age, teenagers.  How very very wrong I would be.

The number one demographic group to offer a seat? Men between the ages of 30 and 55.  Like, by far and away the majority.  Followed by men in their early 20s.  Followed by women in their 30s, and women in their late 50s, early 60s.  Followed by teenagers.  The worst group of all?  Is absolutely women in the 40s and 50s.  They (the collective they) will often look right at my giant stomach, and then ignore me.  Unlike the men, who if they notice, will almost always immediately offer me a seat.*  It’s interesting.  The women I would expect to be most sympathetic – women who have most likely had children themselves – are the least sympathetic.  Men who are probably far removed from their hypothetical partners being in this state seem the most chivalrous.**  I’m not really sure what broad trends you could derive from this, but it does make the 45 seconds between getting on the train and someone offering me a seat more interesting.

* This is all very me me me, but when you’re short and hugely pregnant and having pelvic floor pain and have some balance problems, getting a seat on a crowded jerky stop-go train becomes a pretty overwhelming requirement for personal happiness.

** Calgary?  Is, in fairness, a fairly chivalrousness town.  You know, the kind of place where men let women enter the elevator first and hold doors.

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Why is no one else laughing?

So we’re taking this Birth and Babies class. It’s offered through the local health region, and our class happens to be at the hospital where I will deliver. (Which is conveniently less than 5 minutes from our house.) It’s a 10 week course, and costs $200, so a large-ish investment of time and cash, and this clearly makes for a self-selecting group. It’s a neat concept, in that you ideally have the kid around week 5 or 6, and then you bring the baby to the rest of the classes and learn about infant care. For the last class, they even bring in an infant massage specialist.

I was expecting to be on the older side of the class, being 30 and all. But we’re actually firmly on the young half, which surprised me a bit. But then we’re back to the self-selection of a 10 week $200 course and it makes more sense.

What I expected less is that no one else in the room seems to have a sense of humour. And let’s be honest, there are enough weird and wacky parts of this whole experience that if you can’t find something to giggle about, you probably have no sense of humour at all. I mean, at the very least, when they show the birth video and the woman walks in with her 80s mushroom cut hair and giant overalls and you don’t at least crack a grin? Soulless. We probably will not become friends.

One of the things we had to do last night was to practice the supported sway. Which the instructor explained as being like grade 9 dancing. So David and I immediately went for the arms on shoulders with straight arms awkward dance style. Which we decided was too grade 7-ish, and immediately got closer. He spent the rest of the time trying to ‘subtly’ cop a feel, all junior high boy style. While I muffled my giggles in to his chest. Because who doesn’t like a bit of side-boob touching? Everyone else looked like they were being graded and not enjoying it at all. Which is silly – this is the father (I assume) of your baby, and I don’t know about you, but I still take just about any chance I get to snuggle up with my husband.

Another assignment from last night – talk to the couple beside you about 3 things they plan to do during early labour. Early labour is the part that can go on for 14 hours and be mostly just uncomfortable, for those of you not immersed in this stuff. (Active labour is when you can’t talk or walk during a contraction.) Then we went around the room introducing the other couples and talking about their plans. Of the 12 pairs in the room, at least SIX OF THEM listed, I swear to God, studying their birth notes as a planned activity! Yours truly? Listed having a bath, watching tv and playing video games. Most of the room looked pretty judgey until the woman running the program mentioned games as being a perfect thing to do. Haha, all you uptight boring people!

But seriously. As the woman in labour, everything I’ve read suggests that it’s a very primal, not-thinky experience. It’s not a test. You get the prize no matter what happens. Reading your notes seems … way too fucking OCD for my tastes. And I say this as a woman who has read at least 31 books about pregnancy and birth and labour and breastfeeding and babies. I like research! I like learning! I just really feel that last second cramming isn’t going to help at that late date, and that staying calm and relaxed and having a laugh is so much a better plan. (All of the books I’ve read agree with me, FYI.)

Look, labour will happen and I accept that it will be hard and painful and take me to a place within myself that may be quite new. I accept that this will be an experience like no other. But I refuse to accept that it means I have to give up my sense of humour and sense of the absurd, or that I have to stop sitting in the back of a classroom making off colour jokes with the cute boy sitting beside me.

I just wished when I looked around the room I could find someone else who looked like they were trying to suppress a giggle.

Making mom friends is gonna be hard, I think.

I refuse to waddle

I point blank refuse to waddle.  I’m now 34 weeks pregnant and I’ve managed to hold off on it yet.  I’m not convinced I can go the distance without it happening, but I work damn hard to keep good posture.  The very few times I’ve slipped in to a waddle, I stopped immediately because it made my back hurt.  Probably an advantage to being front heavy my whole life, so the balance change isn’t so extreme for me.

I have had to started wearing a support belt when we’re heading out in the evenings.  It helps, as the belly gets heavier and heavier.  It does, however, look ridiculous.

The Belly

Another odd thing is that not only can I not gain weight, I actually lost a kilo over the last two weeks.  (A little more than 2 pounds.)  It’s crazy.  I’m eating decently, now that I have effective heartburn medication.  Yeah, I can’t eat as much at a meal, due to Skipper’s butt pressing on my stomach, but I’m still eating.  It’s bizarre.  We had a 34 week ultrasound last week* and the tech estimated the kid weighs 6.5 pounds.  I have put on a total of 8.  Bizarre, I tell you.  At least they can’t accuse me of eating too much and making the baby too big (it is measuring heavy for the gestational age), because clearly my body is doing whatever the hell it wants regardless of my feelings or habits.  On the upside, I can’t imagine how hard it would be to move if I put on twice that weight or more, and well, losing the baby weight should be pretty easy, I hope.

So, I refuse to waddle, but I may in fact have started to grunt.  Like while trying to roll over in bed, or getting out of bed, or changing the cross of my legs while seated, or while walking.  Sometimes because of the discomfort, and sometimes because damn this kid’s a strong kicker.

Pregnancy, man.  A constant party of ever evolving wacky symptoms.**  But hey, at leat the kid is quiet and doesn’t scream and while it may pee constantly,*** at least there are no diapers yet, right?  SO bizarre.

*In Alberta, you only get a 12 week and 20 week ultrasound, unless they suspect problems.  Turns out, because my size 12 self was so fat before I got pregnant, they feel I need extra watching.  Seriously, I hate the BMI system.  I starting working out 5 days a week years ago, and only stopped around 6 months pregnant due to pelvic floor issues.   I had super bulky muscles.  Muscles =/= fat, unless you look at a BMI chart, and now no one will take this fairly odd weight issue seriously.  Harumph. 

**We’re not going to talk about my nipples, but let me just say, damn, pregnancy is weird. 

*** A pint a day!  A small alien lifeform is PEEING INSIDE ME IN LARGE VOLUMES.  There is no way that’s not weird.