It’s become a milestone that the majority of expectant parents look forward to, about five months into pregnancy, discovering whether they have a son or a daughter swimming around in that cosy womb. Once they find out, names are finalised and pink or blue clothes purchased before their babes see sunlight. My friends, my sister, basically everyone I know with children, before I moved to India, found out whether they were carrying a boy or a girl at their twenty week ultrasound scan. Meanwhile, before my twenty week scan, I had to sign a legal document saying I wouldn’t ask the gender of my child.
Gender determination in India is illegal. Every medical facility I have been to have posters stating that it doesn’t occur there. When I first found out, I was surprised, discovering the gender before a baby is born felt so normal to me. In India, breaking this law carries fines and jail time for everyone involved, doctors and entire families included. Furthermore, buying baby items before the baby is born is considered to be bad luck by many and names are often chosen based on birth charts.
I really thought I was having a girl, everyone kept telling me I would. I have four sisters, no brothers, and my mum is one of five girls too (no boys there either). My sister has a daughter, our family is short on Y chromosomes. The law is in place for a very good reason, so I didn’t feel frustrated with it, and I had convinced myself I would be having a daughter. During my Indian baby shower, we played a game which predicted a girl. My Indian family have the opposite, a lot of boys, so everyone was very pleased. I didn’t have a preference, I just want lots beautiful of babies.
When I got back to England, I had an ultrasound and I found out I was having a son. I had waited ten weeks longer than I would have done if I had been pregnant in England, so it felt surreal to finally know. I felt so certain Rohan was a girl, I’m obviously not much of a psychic. My Indian family knew I was going to find out but they didn’t want to know, they wanted the surprise (and I’m guessing it’s seen as taboo).
A couple of days before Rohan was born, I was in Devizes market (I was walking everywhere, trying convince Rohan to make an appearance) and an elderly lady grabbed my bump. Absolutely startled, I just looked at her. “Is this for sale?”, she asked, hands still clutching my stomach. I laughed nervously and threw a confused look at my sister. “You are huge, do you think you should be out?”. “They tell me he is a big baby”. She gasped and withdrew her hands. “You naughty girl, you should have waited. You young people have no patience”. Then, she wandered off…
Part of me regrets finding out because it would have been really fun to have the surprise, I was told it helps you push. Another part of me is glad because it was one less surprise (because motherhood is full of them) and I didn’t spend the last weeks of pregnancy going out of my mind with curiosity.