In my experience, once you have celebrated your first marriage anniversary, people start demanding to know when you are having a baby. It must be quite common because it’s not only me who has been constantly questioned and told that they should be pregnant by now. I am certain that couples are quizzed about their plans for a family all over the world, but it was such a huge surprise to me that as soon as our first anniversary rolled past us, it was like a switch went off, people started to asking me when my baby is coming, constantly.
I have been told it is one of the many traditions of India, after one year of marriage you should conceive.
One family friend told me that everyone is asking us because they are all “too excited” to see a “foreigner baby”. I am not exaggerating, shopkeepers and people I have never met before start swinging their arms in a cradle like motion with huge grins on their faces. I just reply with a smile.
Of course, I also have an online presence so I am getting even bolder inquires online. I’ve had a man wanting to know whether or not my husband and I are using “family planning methodology” because we don’t have any children yet. Even last week, another man commented on a post where I was discussing speaking Marathi with simply, “Why no babies yet? Is everything ok?”. How intrusive and insensitive is that?
There has been daily questions and even some tears from the eldest members of my Indian family, desperately hoping for a new family member next festival season. I know it’s not only India where the conception pressure dwells, my Grandmother in England has also been expressing her fears of passing before seeing a great-grandchild in her arms.
Don’t panic everyone, we do want babies, but it’s a personal matter.
I find the constant questions quite frustrating but I cannot imagine how this pressure feels for the couples who are not ready to be parents or simply do not have the desire to have children. Couples not only have to deal with their own distress and grief, but the pressure and demands from family and the society at large.
People the world over feel it’s okay to ask a couple when they are planning to start a family, but we must remember that having a baby is not a topic everyone wants to discuss openly and people have the right to privacy. We just don’t know who has been struggling to conceive, just been given a devastating diagnosis or recently experienced a heartbreaking loss. I am certain the last thing these couples need are people nagging them to start their family, even when they mean well and are just excited, deciding to have children should be a personal and private decision between two people.