Morning sickness is a farce. The nausea, vomit, and extreme fatigue of pregnancy is often a 24-hour kind of misery, cloaked in a casual name that insinuates it’s just a little inconvenience each new dawn of the day. Nothing a few saltine crackers can’t resolve, right? But I and the working moms who have met morning sickness (or worse, as I will discuss in the future) are not fooled, and we won’t soon forget the havoc it can wreak on daily working life.
I’m lucky to live and be a working mom in San Francisco, where my life radius is walk-able and I can avoid driving or even using public transportation for my commute. When pregnant, I lived about 2 miles from my office, and would enjoy a breezy morning jaunt down the hills to the waterfront. (Whether or not I walked back up the hills was largely dependent on how much will power was sucked out of my soul by 5:00 p.m., and/or how many times I barfed that day)
Despite absolutely awe-inspiring nausea and fatigue during my pregnancy, my morning walk was one of the few routines I was able to maintain. My pace was much slower, and I had to modify the route as my commute included the less-than-fragrant periphery of China Town, what with it’s abusive scents and trucks full of dead pigs. (Yes, the picture above is from one of my walks). One never knows what they might encounter early on the streets in SF before the city wakes up.
One delightful morning in my 1st trimester, as I rounded the corner of a major intersection between North Beach and China Town, I encountered a a pair of pants on the sidewalk, with fresh pile of human poop perched smartly in the center. (I’m sorry to say this probably won’t surprise fellow city residents). I dry-heaved half-a-dozen times on the spot and then continued on my merry way.
As the pregnancy progressed, each morning I weighed the level of nausea/fatigue misery against the pros and cons of my walk. I often felt too tired to hoof it, but I feared the city bus immensely, because people, especially groups of them, stink. To be fair, the commuter crowd wasn’t the worst, but the trouble was my already keen sense of smell which pregnancy amplified by at least 10 orders of magnitude. So my fear of the stench usually won, and I walked.
But there were a few days when I just couldn’t muster another step. One morning about halfway through my pregnancy, I was completely wrecked and it took all the energy I had to I haul myself on to a bus. I was already nervous about my queasiness, and as we violently accelerated and jerked to stops at each intersection, up and down the hills, I could feel all the signs that I was not going to make it to the office without some residual vomit peppering my crisp white shirt and barely-brushed hair.
With each passing block, my goal became simple: Do NOT barf on the bus. And if you do, don’t barf on your shoes. They are good work shoes.
Aggressively swallowing back mini-heaves as we inched along, I decided I must disembark, like, IMMEDIATELY. But we were in the middle of a busy intersection. There was nowhere to go. I teetered on the edge of the stairwell, the bus driver grumbling at me, confused why the pregnant lady was being stupid and dangerous. I couldn’t open my mouth and explain. All I could do was frantically scan the area for a garbage can or anything shaped like a hole. As we finally slowed to our stop, I practically jumped out the doors, ran by confused men in suits to the nearest storm drain, and for lack of a better description, let it go.
It was a sunny Thursday morning in the Financial District, pedestrian commuters bustling all around me. After barfing, I straightened up and adjusted my blouse, smoothed my hair, and checked over my shoulder with a determined “nothing to see here, move along” face to any onlookers. I texted a colleague who is a also a dear friend. I stopped by her desk on my way in to the office, quickly shed a few humiliated tears, and then gathered myself. It was almost 8:30 and I had a meeting. The working mom goes on.
pork truck photo is live from the commute!
additional photos by www.cristinmorephotography.com
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