Baby blues to gender games, busting those pregnancy myths

This pandemic has upturned many lives, but some couples seem to have made the most of their lockdown existence. Perhaps thinking time phir kab mile dobara! And voila, we ended up with a lot of pregnant women. Heck, I just attended a Zoom baby shower for one such close friend and there are another three to go in the next couple of months. Talking of pregnancy, there are many myths I want to bust having been there and done that twice.

The first is something that goes by the mild moniker ‘baby blues’ but can often take the more serious form of postpartum depression as a friend of mine who recently gave birth to a beautiful baby boy found out. Crying incessantly without any reason and anxiety attacks are things I have dealt with in the past, so I empathise with her. But out there in the world, the general assumption is that only weak and pampered women experience this. My friend was judged not just by the elders in her family but even by her own siblings. “Kuch nai hua isse, roz ka hai iska toh, she is the youngest na, isliye most pampered,” said her sister. What came from her mother made me livid: “Jatton ki kudi hai, kuch nai hona isse (She’s a Jat girl so nothing will happen to her) Like really? Try that logic with the coronavirus which has ravaged all communities!

Illustration credit: Chad Crowe

I felt sorry for my friend and all the new mothers who haven’t been understood. Though it’s a serious mental health issue, it’s
often brushed under the carpet, making things worse for the woman who needs support and empathy at this time.

Another myth is about Bollywood folks only having babies through fancy ways of procreating. Yup, “fancy” is the word that a relative in Jalandhar used. Pehle toh I want to know why IVF, surrogacies and adoptions are being dubbed fancy? It’s not as if women are making kids pop out of their noses. I have many friends and family who aren’t from the industry and have opted for IVF or adoption, and some who don’t choose to have children. But what I don’t understand is what makes us constantly pigeonhole people?

Just the other day in my attempt to lose a few kilos (nope, it’s not some obsession about being a certain size, but actually being able to run a few kilometres before I feel my chest is going to explode!), I was taking rounds of my society when my fit neighbour, a mother of two teenagers, tells me how impressed she is with my efforts to lose weight. I told her about my aim, and she said, “You aren’t that bad, I mean last year you had more, but this time it’s not that bad.” That bad!! Then the husband piped in with, “It must be peer pressure na.” I managed to keep a smile on my face and said, “Honestly I don’t take any such pressures.” But I still want to know yeh peer kaun hai? His wife? Ahhh….perhaps Bollywood wives (a career which I still have to fathom)! I was going to walk away when the husband referring to my boy said, “Hasn’t he lost weight again?” Bhains ki aankh, saala inko kya paddi hui hai!! Before they moved from my spouse to making a vishesh tippani about the size of my dog Peanut, I hurriedly wished them good night.

But one thing is clear: The world will always have an opinion and try to put you on the defensive. At least that night I didn’t resort to self-explanations about how I was on hormonal therapy, a protocol suggested after chemotherapy which causes weight gain. Like other women, I have in the past been guilty of trying to justify my extra kilos.
Coming to more pregnancy games, the ones about predicting the gender of your unborn child are often wrong but weirdly entertaining. When I had my first one in my tummy, all sorts of predictions were thrown my way. If the linea nigra, the dark line that runs from the pubic bone straight up the centre of the belly and beyond, is broken, then it’s a girl, if the line runs straight then it’s a boy. If you have gained weight on the hips, then it’s a girl and if the belly is rounder then it’s a boy. If you glow, then it’s a boy, and if you don’t it’s a girl. Another involves checking the direction of the hair at the crown of the head of your first born. If it is clockwise, it’s a boy. Have you noticed how everything that is negative or could be an anomaly points to a girl?
Stupid as these myths are, they are not surprising in a country where last year, a father of five daughters in UP ripped open his wife’s stomach to check the gender of the unborn child. It sure is time to bust these biases.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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