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The Amateur Parker …

Parking While Pregnant – Too Bad the Stork Doesn’t Deliver Groceries

Melissa Bean Sterzick

I’ve aired a number of grievances in this column. I’ve complained about everything from scary parking garages to holiday parking nightmares to outrageously enraged parkers. One thing I’ve been keeping on the back burner is a whopper of a gripe about the challenges of a certain parking demographic: pregnant women.
Earlier this year, California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore proposed legislation giving special parking privileges to women in their last three months of pregnancy and two months postpartum. Assembly Bill 1940 would have allowed pregnant and postpartum women to apply for “temporarily disabled” parking permits from the DMV.
The bill did not pass.
For whatever reason, legislators either did not want to create parking havoc; did not want to make the misstep of labeling pregnant women “disabled” (thus laying waste to years of progress for women’s rights); or some, as encouraged by doctors, didn’t want to deprive pregnant women of the healthy exercise derived from walking from their parked car to their chosen destination and back again.
What a bunch of garbage.
My first pregnancy was difficult. By the final week of my pregnancy, which ended two months early, my blood pressure was so high I was not allowed to eat, watch TV, talk on the phone or get out of my hospital bed for any reason. Of course, I didn’t need a special parking permit while I was in such a state, but during the weeks that led up to my dramatic physical deterioration, I felt extremely ill.
My second daughter was born six weeks early, and I was one of the “lucky” (by lucky, I mean unfortunate) 2% of pregnant women who suffer morning sickness without pause for their entire pregnancy. I actually lost 20 pounds.
My premature babies spent a total of two months in the Newborn Intensive-Care Unit and I, recovering from Caesarean-section deliveries both times, visited them in the hospital at least once every day after I was released.
Obviously, I’ve proven myself to be an extreme case, but I am not the only woman to have a difficult pregnancy and delivery. Pregnant women are not disabled; they are pregnant. We are not all movie stars with live-in cooks, drivers and housekeeping staff. We do not all have bodies that bounce back to fighting shape after two weeks. And isn’t it unreasonable to expect such a performance?
That seems to be the fashion these days. Pregnant women are no longer people to be treated gently, given a chair and a glass of milk, and relieved of heavy burdens. Anymore, pregnancy is ignored, and pregnant women are expected to jog five miles a day until they start labor. It’s not a winning day for women’s rights when we cannot be truthful about the fact that pregnancy can be very difficult.
Contrary to fairytales and tabloid magazines, life after baby is born is not immediately daisies and rainbows. Between the sleep deprivation and hormonal fluctuations, some of us go from pregnant to whacko within the week.
And it never fails, on the day that started at 4 a.m., during which we have changed our own and our babies’ clothes three times for various disgusting reasons, and the dishwasher breaks down, we also run out of diapers and have to make a run for the drugstore with all our children in their finest ratty hair and peanut butter faces, and it is a disaster. The last thing we need is to escort the messy, unruly bunch through a parking lot.
Too bad Bill 1940 did not get considered more seriously. However, legislation is not needed for parking lots and garages to accommodate pregnant women and mothers with small children.
A merchandiser you might have heard of – Babies R Us – designates its first row to handicapped and pregnant parkers. Ikea offers “family” parking front and center next to the loading zone. And in Utah (baby capital of the country), certain grocery stores have “mothers” parking right up close to the building.
My children are healthy and generally happy. All is well that ends well. However, my life as a pregnant and postpartum woman would have been more pleasant with the small consideration of a special parking permit. Maybe there aren’t enough handicap parking spots available for every pregnant woman to be provided with such a privilege, but a handful who truly need it could not be impossible to accommodate.
Every day I see pregnant women lumbering through parking lots, often dragging a toddler beside them. Wouldn’t we all be safer and more comfortable if these brave souls had the option of parking as far from traffic as possible?
Melissa Bean Sterzick, PT’s Amateur Parker and Senior Proofreader, lives in Southern California. She can be reached at Melissa@parkingtoday.com.

Article Abstract from May, 2008




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