Sunday, September 14, 2014

PRegnant in the DR

My doctor encouraged me to exercise during pregnancy - walking as he referred to it, because you know, chubbies don¨t actually exercise. It was the first thing, besides him talking me off the ledge of ¨my blood pressure will kill me¨ (completely unreasonable fear, I have LOW blood pressure), that endeared me to him and made me go back to a second pre natal care appointment instead of finding a different doctor.

See, pregnancy is complicated in the DR. There is a list - much longer than the one I published here - of things that can and cannot be done for nine months. Exercise of any kind is usually on the list of cannots.

translation: Dominican man, eventhough your belly looks like
this, remember that this parking spot is for pregnant women! 
It takes a long time to really figure out how to manage the cultural taboos. In fact, usually by the time one figures it out, there is a newborn in the picture.

Alas, not all things are bad for pregnant women in the Dominican Republic. There are many lovely things that happen here that are so ingrained in the culture that I didnt even realize how much I appreciated them until I returned to the states this summer and those things were non-existent.

In any parking lot, there are spots reserved for pregnant women - spots that are different from the handicapped spots. Well, to be fair, some are shared sports, but mostly there are spots just for preggos. And it is serious. I have been yelled at for parking in the spot during a rain storm by the security guard. Those spots are sacred. Pregnant women should not have to walk a mile to do their shopping.

Pregnant women also never have to wait in line. And if said pregnant woman tries to wait in line, at least three people will point out that she should not be waiting in line. Basically, if you have a baby in your belly, you can cut in any line you want. This is especially helpful in Wendys at lunch time and the bank on pay day.

When I was dating Amalio, we went to the movies. I had no idea about this no-line-waiting policy as it does not really exist in the USA. We were waiting to see a really popular Dominican movie - which means the line went around the block - and a pregnant woman was in front of us in the line, with her baby-daddy. The usher came to pull her out of line and let her into the theater, but wanted to leave the baby-daddy behind. The uproar was insane. The no-line-waiting applies to everyone in the pregnant womans  party and everyone knows it.

There is no lifting involved in pregnancy. Strangers on the street will offer to help you carry a piece of paper if you are pregnant. While this can be pretty annoying, it is really helpful on grocery shopping day or any day there is a lot of stuff to be moved. I have spent the last seven months soaking up the help with every thing from my purse to groceries.

Our neighbors have brought us so much food it is a wonder that I didnt gain 60 pounds during pregnancy. Any time they cooked something special, we got a plate. Any time someone thought I was looking particularly tired, a plate. And forget about it if I even mentioned a craving. Some of our ¨boys¨ went all over Santiago looking for a specific type of fried something or other when I mentioned I was craving it. And my brother in law spent more time walking to the intersection in the midday sun to buy me cold coconut water and pineapple. We are still getting a ton of food dropped off and Im not really sure when this falls off, but Im enjoying it while it lasts.

The Dominican Republic labor law protects pregnant women as well with a three month paid maternity leave AND a maternity stipend for one year for employed women.

I was completely shocked when we got back to the States this summer and I was expected to wait in line like there was nothing special about me. I had to park at the back of the parking lot on numerous occasions and no strangers offered to help me with anything. And I was very very pregnant. (My mom recently got her knee replaced. So, when we went to Walmart (I know, I know, dont judge me), she got a motorized cart and believe me, I stole that and drove around like people of Walmart because my feet and back and head hurt from being SO pregnant.)

So, while the rules are strict and kind of bizarre, Id say pregnant women are, in general, treated with the respect they deserve - I mean come on, we are carrying around the generation in our bellies!

1 comment:

Jennifer Zorrilla said...

I guess it depends on what part of the island, when I was pregnant my ex-husband always would let me know that his sisters while pregnant had to carry the wash tub of heavy clothes on her head, and that pregnancy didn't mean much.. Also would tell me how I had to have a beer a day, as it was GOOD for the baby.. Hrmm.. He was from a campo near Barahona.. Also I was surprised that when a close friend, lost her baby at like 15 weeks, she told everyone it was because she wanted fish, and her husband didn't share his with her.. For HIM she lost the baby. She truly believed it, and the Dominican women around us tried hard for me to believe it. The baby wanted it THAT bad it died because it didn't get it..

Glad you had a healthy, happy, pregnancy!!

In NY we have parking spots in most parking lots for Mothers with small children/Pregnant women. Not all, but many parking lots offer. Most supermarkets.