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As more women have careers, they are empowered to take decisions about their lives and bodies, and a late pregnancy is inevitable. What are their stories?
Only the other day, I was confessing to a friend that both the times that I had become pregnant, I was very upset that my set life would go all topsy-turvy. How would I manage work and raise a child too?
A late pregnancy has become quite a commonplace things these days. With so many Indian women having roaring careers, pregnancy has been put on hold. Unlike in the past, where women married young and had their children, say around 20-25 years. Child-bearing isn’t rushed into any longer as women can now choose to go in for a late pregnancy, as they are empowered by their financial and emotional independence!
But has this trend of having a late pregnancy affected the lives of these mothers in any way? Are these decisions to postpone pregnancy the women’s alone, or are they taken with the partners, and sometimes even family members? What are the stories of these women having a late pregnancy?
‘I was a hyper parent the first time and more chilled out the second time, which made all the difference. I chose to give birth in my early forties, to cement my second marriage.’ Says Neeru.
Strictly by her experience, she feels in an early pregnancy, it is easier to run around with a toddler. In that context, says Neeru, a late pregnancy is tougher. She had two daughters in a second marriage, after having had two sons from the first. Though she felt that her body was less cooperative, the second time, emotionally, she was a much more relaxed mom. There is a stark difference in the way her girls have flowered, in comparison to the boys. Mindset matters.
‘I couldn’t conceive for a long time. The peer pressure to have a baby became too much. I stopped going to birthday parties of friends’ kids. Did I need a baby to silence the carping voices of this invasive society? The key is not to get pressurized and let nature take its course. I got busy with life, shifted focus and I conceived.’ Says Manisha, a CA from Delhi.
She got married into a traditional joint family in Kolkata when she was barely 23-24. Manisha took a while adjusting, for her lifestyle had changed immensely. She had to change career tracks, as a full-time career of a CA was frowned upon in her marital home. Around the same time, her weight increased tremendously due to thyroid problems.
Pushed by family and her own need to become a mother, Manisha went to many specialists, and underwent treatments like IVF. Her Montessori and early childhood training made her crave for children all the more. They then moved to Mumbai, away from all that pressure and stress, and Manisha conceived in her early 30s.
‘I am the only child. I didn’t want to get married as I was looking after my ailing father. At his insistence, I got married at 29, had an unplanned conception at 30, and I was unwell all throughout. We were accused that a very ill me, was palmed off to be married to the unsuspecting groom and hence my child had inherited illnesses. I aborted thrice later. All this took a terrible toll on my body. I suffered immense emotional trauma, as there was zero help from the husband. It has been my journey always. Alone! But 17 years later, I have learnt to forgive and forget. I cherish whatever life’s graces are. Letting go has been tough but I chose it.’ Says Seema.
There were major complications throughout Seema’s pregnancy. She was put under doctor’s observation, advised bed rest often. During the first trimester, she was injected every week to keep the baby alive. Seema bloated, having developed Pre Eclampsia – a condition of high blood pressure and water retention.
She continued to work, as and when she could. In the last one and half months of her pregnancy, she was in the hospital, with her feet up, to stop the baby from coming out. Her parents took care of her as her in-laws’ couldn’t support her. After an emergency caesarian, her day old son was accidentally injected with infected glucose, and he suffered for a year with dysentery. There were terrible arguments, and she was packed off to her maternal home. Moving on was difficult but Seema did, with her head held high.
‘I married young. My mother-in-law was hospitalized in my first trimester and passed away in the second. My father-in-law moved in with us to recover from her death. One week before my daughter’s birth, hot milk spilt over my stomach. I had a premature baby. My husband was a short-tempered man, who didn’t take part in the child-rearing at all, though he has changed substantially now.’ Says Rina.
She was working as a teacher in a play school and would often travel in rickshaws. The jerks led to two miscarriages. She conceived her daughter when she was 31. Rina was under medical supervision, had to be injected weekly to keep the baby alive. As there was no woman around to help her, Rina took her 14-day baby and moved to her mother’s place in Kolkata. After 5 months of her delivery, Rina employed a babysitter and rejoined work, where hours were easy.
Her daughter has grown to be a chirpy, sporty lass who exudes positivity. No doubt inherited from her mother.
‘I was very clear from the beginning that I was going to have my child after I turned 30. I and my husband are on the same page, here. There was no pressure but gentle reminders from family about how time was running out. Husband had flexible hours and gave me massages knowing that a new mother’s body is bruised from labour. He was a complete hands-on Dad, who helped me with child-rearing. I had my child when I was completely ready and prepared. It is your body and you make the choice.’ Says Neha.
Neha knew her husband for almost a decade, got married at 24, and moved to Dubai. She started working and enjoying the freedom of life. She soon moved to Budapest and conceived. To protect the baby from infections, Neha and the newborn were isolated from all for three days. She learnt all about babies then. At that moment, she missed all the support from home, though her mother-in-law and her father came for a month each. She has recently moved to India to start her venture. Neha keeps hours coinciding with her son’s school hours.
‘I had my child at 33.’ Says Dr Amar. ‘Even with fears of the biological clock ticking, women are less worried, and are equipped better financially and emotionally for late pregnancies. With advanced medical technology, any genetic abnormality can be detected at an early stage of pregnancy. Stress-related infertility challenges like diabetes and hormonal imbalances can be managed with medical guidance, proper nutrition, and exercises. It’s a breeze!’
These mothers’ innate grace and strength throughout their turmoil is very amazing and inspiring. These uplifting stories fill me with energy and compel me to look at life with a new lens! What have I been cribbing about troubles galore, when such stellar women are out there, marching with a bewitching smile?
A young woman spends her twenties working hard at her career. With both parents working full time and sometimes, with no support system in place to raise a child, the decision to start a family gets delayed. But a strong woman of today is emotionally and financially stronger, and with me too chipping in at home, equipped to balance her career and family.
In a nutshell, a late pregnancy isn’t a taboo anymore.
Image source: shutterstock