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Nina In New York: NYC Pregnancy Etiquette

Commuters step off the subway (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Commuters step off the subway (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

NYC Breakfast

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
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By Nina Pajak

Let’s talk about etiquette for a moment. Specifically as it relates to pregnant women. Let’s call it: pregniquette. Yeah, that’s terrible.

In the past, as some may remember, I was the recipient of several erroneous and enthusiastic congratulatory hugs on the occasion of my obvious pregnancy news. This, of course, being years before my actual pregnancy. Many shirts and dresses were banished to the “never again!” pile after these encounters, and weightwatchers.com was the beneficiary several times over. I think we can easily establish that congratulating someone on what would, at best, be a tummy representing a mere 10 weeks of fetal growth should be relegated squarely into the “bad etiquette” category.

And yet, though so many were convinced of my being in a family way long before I ever was, it seems lately that everyone has gotten extraordinarily polite. So much so that they’ve circled all the way back around to rude.

We don’t require much special consideration. We haven’t even reached the point where we’re toting massive, sidewalk-swallowing strollers and walking at a snail’s pace and blocking subway doors. But we preggerses do ask some extra consideration, the same way one considers anyone sporting an obvious physical disability. Because let me tell you, toting this thing around at this point is uncomfortable, exhausting, and occasionally painful.

So when you see a woman with a giant and disproportionately protruding belly standing on a crowded subway sweating profusely in her coat and struggling to maintain her balance, should you:

A) Blatantly stare at her stomach from your seat and then resume playing Bejewled

B) Look furtively at her stomach and then look away and never cast your eyes up to meet hers for the remainder of the ride

C) Offer your seat, acknowledging that there is a slight risk she is just incredibly fat and has a terrible weight distribution problem (in which case she’ll probably appreciate the seat despite the insult)?

The correct answer is C. However, in a very non-scientific survey involving me taking the subway twice a day, every day and obsessively keeping track of how people behave, I have determined that approximately 95% of people choose A or B. Bad etiquette.

The 5% of people who choose C have become veritable folk heroes in my eyes. I lavish thanks upon them, loudly. Sometimes I reject their offers, and feel their prize for good etiquette is that they get to keep their seats AND be praised vociferously. They do not all fit into one demographic, interestingly enough. Men and women, teenage, old and middle-aged. Tourists are entirely unrepresented in this percentage, though. In fact, tourists are the ones most likely to shove me out of the way of the doors when there are a lot of people waiting on the platform. That’s really bad etiquette. Why don’t we just make up special trolleys to transport them from Rockefeller Center to Times Square to Canal Street to the Magnolia Bakery in the West Village? Why?

Other offenders I’ve encountered, to my surprise: taxi drivers who refuse to acknowledge me waving maniacally from the side of the road. What is that about? I’m not going to have a baby in your backseat. And if I did, you’d be on the news. So shut up and pull over.

I have always tried to be mindful of yielding my seat to those elderly or infirm. I’m sure I’ve missed a desperate soul or two, and after I’ve rejoined the world of the normals I vow never to let that happen again.

In the meantime, I’m bolstered by the fact that I can drink chocolate milkshakes guilt-free from now until May.