The Handicapped placard

Did you know you can get a handicapped placard for being pregnant with multiples? Well, the great news is, you can. The bad news is, for some of us, that’s a hard pill to swallow. I know for me, it was. With my singleton pregnancy I was one tough cookie. I worked until I was in labor. And I was lifting people while nurses followed me around timing my contractions.

So when I read that we could get this placard, I laughed.  But, this pregnancy I was ten years older, one baby bigger, and quite possibly less stubborn. This pregnancy I was doing the exact same job.  At 27 weeks I decided to put in my two weeks notice, so that I could spend time with my 8 year old son. And get some quiet time while he was at school.  I felt silly quitting at 27 weeks. But by 31 I was barely able to make dinner. (By the way, all those meals they tell you to make for after the babies come, don’t make them when you are thirty some thing weeks pregnant with twins. Seriously, it was so much harder for me to do that, than it was for me to throw dinner in the crock pot four days post-partum.)

Getting the handicapped placard was also some thing I decided to do before I needed it. After all, it isn’t instant.  So I went to the OB’s office and asked for the paper work. It was scary for me, and the nurse was weird about it. I live in one of the most rural parts of america. I don’t remember the exact details, but I took the paperwork back to my town. And didn’t have the OB fill it out. I went to my GP. I asked them to do it. I explained that “apparently this was supposed to get so much worse.” And they seemed to be giving it to me, because they had to. They seemed to act like all of my fears and insecurities. Maybe that was just my fears and insecurities talking though.

So I finally got it. And any time I could stop some where and use it. I didn’t. Just like any other sane and rational person. I wouldn’t use the expectant mother parking either, surely some one needed it more than me.  Looking back though, by 25 weeks I was the size of a full term pregnant woman. I was huge. And NO ONE deserved that expectant mother spot more than me.  No matter how embarrassed I was to use that placard. I really should have. I really should have taken better care of myself. Because even if I wasn’t dying, I was dealing with more than most singleton moms will in their pregnancy.

But I am writing this post to share this story specifically. The story of when I learned it was OK to use it. And NO ONE was looking down on me for it.

Let me set the scene for you. I was 35 weeks pregnant. I had an OB appointment 3 hours away from home. We decided to drive 5 hours from there to a Bernie Sanders rally. My son really loved the man and believed in the cause. And with his teachers permission, we skipped school. As we sat across the street from the arena, we could see the line starting to wrap around the building. And I realized … I was going to have to use my handicapped placard to park. I was slightly mortified.

We get there and I tell my husband I didn’t want to use the placard. But we couldn’t find a spot. We didn’t bring chairs for me to sit in while we waiting in a line of two thousand people or some thing crazy. So I swallowed my pride. My sore, aching, contracting pride. And parked in the handicapped spot. And while we walked up to the building. There was a special entrance. With fewer people. Who were all  handicapped.

So my husband and I stood near them and debated what to do. And some one started walking towards us. Here it is I thought, some one is going to chew me out for me using the placard when I shouldn’t be. Some one is going to tell me to ‘suck it up.’  I’m going to get chewed out.  But she didn’t say any thing mean. She welcomed me. She explained this was their special entrance, and that I looked like I needed to sit down. She didn’t even know I was carrying twins. She just thought I was extremely ready to pop.

I sat over with this group of people who, at the time, I felt needed this grace much more than me. And every single one of them treated me so perfectly. Their kids played with my son. It was a grand time.  And then when it came time to go into the rally. What was I to do? Stand for 8 hours? No. I got to sit with these wonderful people. In our own section. Front row.  FRONT ROW. By the end of the rally I had made some friends. And by the end of the rally I finally had mentioned I was carrying twins. By the end, I realized that these people, who genuinely need this placard and grace every day, thought I was pregnant with one baby, and still felt I needed this help.  And by the end of this rally, my son got to shake Bernie Sanders hands. Bernie spoke to my son. Bernie took my son’s poster, “that he worked so hard on.”  I shook his hands too, but as a mom, it felt so much better to see my son do it.

And in that moment. Right at the very end. I finally learned to accept this help. I finally used it. And this silly placard, gave my son the highlight of his life. But I felt this story was so important to share. Not because I want to shove my political views down your throat. But because I know that I am not the only person who had an issue using this placard. I know I am not the only person who wanted to avoid getting it. I wanted to share this amazing experience I had. Where all the people I was saving those spaces for, told me I deserved the help.  And you do too.

Some thing you will be doing almost every day until your kids are teenagers, is putting them before you.  So take this time to put yourself first. You deserve it. You are amazing. You are growing to humans, yet you are so much more than that. Even if it doesn’t always feel that way. And you have to take care of yourself. For many of us, it’s the last chance we will get for a handful of years.

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