I once caused a stir in a pub by saying that I didn't think I should give my seat up to a pregnant woman with a 'baby on board' badge if her bump wasn't visible. My reasoning was that if the foetus was the size of an orange, it wasn't worthy of a seat. I mean, you wouldn't give up your seat to a man with an orange in his pocket would you? Naturally everyone I was with called me a "stupid cunt" and a "wanker", and rightly so. I never enact that theory/policy in real life, but it's fun to dream.
Anyway, pregnancy fascinates me. I think it's interesting how little we (and when I say we I mean fucking idiots like me who've never read a book) know about the process. After sex education you kind of forget it exists until it happens to you or your spouse or whoever, then it's brought crashing back into your life. I didn't feel I had enough empathy for the daily grind of the pregnant woman, and how could I? There was no sentience growing inside of me, nothing sucking all my precious minerals through a tube made of skin, nothing rumbling inside my stomach kicking out at my supple gut dermis. No, the miracle of life was nowhere to be seen in this hairy vessel. But what if I could simulate the feeling of being pregnant to better understand the plight of the preggo?
Life Choice UK are a company which provides baby models and dolls for infant simulation-based education. One of the things they use to educate both children and adults is a bump which is strapped onto the person using clips and velcro. The bump weighs 12 kilos (or just over 26 pounds). The kind people at Life Choice lent me their bump so I could acutely experience the day-to-day life of someone up the duff.
Applying the apparatus requires one to sit down, an action that I would soon be begging for every single second. Two velcro straps under the arms and over the shoulders, plus three adjustable clips around the back, hold the bump in place. Luckily the 'baby on board' badge that I ordered from TFL arrived just in time. But would it work on the sympathetic hearts of London's tube train denizens?
Before I cut my eyes at city boys pretending not to see my pregnant belly by burying their head in a book called 'The Success' or something on the Central Line, there were a few challenges I had to complete. These challenges are suggested by Life Choice, to let you experience the physical struggle of having had some heavy beans blown up your muff. The first task was to ascend and descend some stairs.
It was a trial, for sure, but no greater a task than carrying a box of T-shirts or a heavy jug or two of orange juice. Your steps are certainly more pronounced, and the pressure on your back is noticeable, but all in all it was a fairly easy exercise.
Next up was removing my shoes and putting them back on. Sitting down this was a piece of piss. It would be the same if I had a particularly hardened football in my lap. Standing up and attempting it however was a different kettle of fish. Your balance is all fucked up because of the tumescent growth protruding from your abdomen. Also, I wear silly shoes that are basically like socks that a robot would wear so they're kind of hard to get on. Still I managed to get my shoes on and laces tied. Easy as pie.
After that I was told to lie on my back and then get up. Of all the challenges Life Choice offered, this was the most difficult. I felt like a turtle unable to rejig itself after landing shell-down. There was a lot of grunting involved in this particular endeavour. Yet still, like dust, I rose up, with my baby undamaged by my careless kneeing of its head or arse (depending on which way up it is) as I got up.
With all the tasks finished (or should I say, destroyed with my hot testosterone-riddled bloke bod) it was time to do some real pregnancy shit. I had to prepare for when the bump was gone, the next step in my journey, so I went to Mothercare.
But to get to Mothercare I had to ride the goddamned tube. The Central Line was unusually busy for the time I went on, apparently because of a 'passenger incident' at Tottenham Court Road. Most likely it was one of my fellow preggers, weep-screaming and lying on the floor of the platform demanding that someone feed her coal and stroke her hairline.
It was a shocking state of affairs. Not one person offered me their seat on the train, even though I had my 'baby on board' badge clearly displayed. All I got was glances from feckless, barren men who would never understand the struggle my feet were currently experiencing. Sickos.
When I did eventually get a seat, no one asked me about my bump, when it was due or anything. I was being ignored by the commuter class. The weighted velcro mirage hiding 'neath my shirt got no plaudits from the train people. Well you know what? Those guys can go fuck themselves.
Stairs truly are pregnancy's worst enemy. Every time I saw a flight of stairs I sighed a very pregnant sigh. You really have to hold on the railing to maintain your balance. It was becoming more and more of a chore as the day wore on.
Mothercare was a delight, though. Look at all these tiny little shoes! And these little one piece suits for winter! So cute!
They even had a Diesel-branded buggy that was made of denim, which I don't mind telling you, readers, is the fucking coolest thing I've ever seen.
I was beginning to get excited about the baby I wasn't even having. I wanted to buy all the stuff in the shop for my bump. This must be the sort of semi-madness that takes over all soon-to-be parents – you want to shower them with stuff before they're even out, out of love and maybe a little bit of fear. I didn't want to drop £595 on a pram, but I did buy this new badge for a pound, a little memento of me and the bump's time together.
I wasn't quite getting the full SP of the range of pregnant experiences. One thing I was missing out on grossly was the nausea. The morning sickness, which people tell me lasts all day, which, if that's the case, should be renamed 'all day sickness'. To simulate this I thought I should find a nice patch of green and just spin around on the spot for a bit and then walk in a straight line.
As you can imagine, spinning around with 12 kilos of weight strapped to your body is fairly dizzying, and after two rounds of it I felt sufficiently sick. It was the perfect time to have lunch.
The emotion took over and my Pret pesto chicken and mozzarella salad became a bath of tears. My hormonal imbalance, nausea, fear of the unknown, aching feet and pressurised bladder became all too much for me to handle. I was done with the bump.
Let me tell you, gents: being pregnant is a bit of a pain in the arse. I realised that for the women who experience it, the growth is gradual, and not just produced in one backbreaking lump for one day, but still. By the end of it, my dogs were well and truly barking, and on a hot day, even a few meters felt like miles. If, like me, you ever thought twice about giving your seat up on the train, don't. Pregnant women need it. Old people can get fucked though. If you can carry a tartan shopping trolley around all day then you can stand up while I finish my chicken-flavoured Walkers.