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“You can see your baby in a few minutes,” said the reassuring voice behind the white mask. The voice belonged to the anesthetist just after he administered the epidural and declared me ready for my c-sec, to deliver my second child.
During my first delivery, they had knocked me out using general anesthesia and consequently I was the last person to see my daughter (let’s call her A1). I had been in too much pain, groggy and horizontal so when they finally brought A1 to me, I think I grimaced (forgivably so). But this time I was prepared, my epidural worked and I was awake in the OT, I would be the first to see my baby.
And then there was a tiny feeble cry and all the chatty nurses and docs fell silent. I was fighting to stay awake by then but mustered enough strength to ask, “Is that my baby“? One of them found their voice and said, “Yes yes, that’s your baby, everything is fine“. I waited, why wasn’t anyone speaking? Then…bless her wherever she is, a nurse standing by my head patted my cheek gently and said, “It’s a baby girl“.
Now we are the emotional sort, we like to turn on the tap at the whiff of an emotion and this was more than a whiff surely. So, the tears came and I smiled through the tears, then I began sobbing and smiling and sobbing some more. And then they brought her to me and she met my eyes the first time while I whispered my love to her. And then one of the white masks wanted to know…”Was I crying because I was happy or because I was sad?” My feisty gynecologist jumped in…”Of course she is happy, we have discussed this, and she wanted a girl“. It had begun.
My hubby would later recount how the neonatologist brought A2 to the waiting room with a nervous and glum expression. He feebly called out to the hubby and mumbled “It’s a girl” and when my man flashed his dimpled smile (the one I swoon over all the time…sigh…am digressing here) and scooped up our little one, the doc finally relaxed and looked like he could do a Caribbean jig himself. I don’t blame him; maybe he got bad mouthed by bitter irrational relatives in the past.
Across caste, creed, social strata, educational qualifications, financial background, nine times out of ten, when I am asked, “You have kids?” And I say, “Yes, two girls“, they will repeat my answer in the form of a question “Two girls?”, “Both girls”? And I smile and say, yes you heard me right the first time! The tone varies of course, some smile brightly and go on about pink bedrooms, dolls, hair clips and accessories. Others keep mum, almost embarrassed I should think, some are sympathetic (WTH), and one royal idiot asked me so when I am ‘trying’ for a boy. And then there is that .1% who congratulate me on my very blessed life!
I try not to be judgmental …for example, who am I to judge my household help at her disappointment when she just had her third granddaughter…fact of the matter is that today she lives in a world where she will have to scrounge every penny to accumulate ‘dowries’. Fact. Sure we are all hopeful of social change, but if it hasn’t happened in her world in a long time, she has to assume that she will have to go along with the system. But what about all those educated women out there? I hear stories about how my friends were left alone in the delivery room with the baby while the extended family grimaced outside. An acquaintance on hearing the news about A2’s birth reacted by saying, “It’s ok…you have another princess now“. Really? It’s ok? I am blessed you fool!
The one person who had it right was my 102 year old grand aunt, may she rest in peace! I was in my eighth month of pregnancy and was on the phone with her (she was healthy with all her wits about her till her time came) and she asked me, “So you are expecting again“? When I responded in the affirmative, she muttered a blessing and said, “It will be a girl“. I grinned and told her, “But you do remember A1 don’t you granny“. She said, “Yes, but I hope it’s another girl” and then went on to tell me the Malayalam equivalent of “girls rock”! Really, she came close to discrimination against boys I should think!! She lived long enough to bless my littlest one in person.
Alas, there aren’t many like her out there. What I run into more often is the moron in the elevator “Hello, how are you? Your kids? Two girls? Oh! Both girls ah?” As A1 watches me closely I smile and say, “Yes you heard me right the first time”
*Photo credit: Charles Street Bakery (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)
Smita has found a lot of self awareness and peace this decade and is revelling
I loved this post!!
As you rightly mentioned, irrespective of so many factors, having 2 daughters is still considered shameful..
I have a younger sister and both of us are well educated..infact more educated than the boys in the family..but my mom still faces discrimination..my aunt who has 2 “differently abled” sons is always given preference over my mom!
Another relative of mine has 2 daughters, they are financially way ahead of the rest of the family, both daughters are school toppers..her brother has 2 sons both of who dont study..still, the mother is looked down upon by the rest of the family..
I have a 3.5 year old daughter and my MIL has asked me to be “careful” and not get pregnant again as she doesnt want her son to be burdened in case the 2nd one is a girl too..this despite the fact that i am well-educated and i work to support my family..
Actually, I have a son from my 1st husband and 2 daughters from 2nd husband. Since i divorced 1st one, Son is no longer stays with me. But i am happy with my beautiful 2 daughters. In fact, if the sperm count in men is fever, then probably it is female child. So its not mistake of woman. Even though his family treats me & my daughters weird, my husband loves his 2nd daughter very much. My both daughters have their father name as Surname .
What a coincidence! I just wrote about this recently…A writing tribute to the girl child
http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=5370 do read if you find time!! Loved your post.
Gauri, thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Reminded me of something an old neighbour told me once “betiyon se tho ghar ki raunak banthi hain”
Sri. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The discrimination is appalling but I do like to believe that our generation will bring the change. Our views and actions will be wise and fair as we age and our kids will hopefully not know the possibility of such discrimination.
It is worse when you have just the one daughter, and that too by choice. I have one daughter, and do not plan on having another child, girl or boy. If I could get a rupee for every well-wisher, acquaintance, ‘friend’ or extended family member who has ‘advised’ me to try for a boy ‘next time’ as I still have ‘room in my family’, and who will support me in my old age, and how it is not right to not strengthen my spouse’s ‘afterlife’ without a male child, etc., etc., I would be a rich woman! There are those morons, too, who do not stop at that, but go on to speculate about any biological problems I might be having, as I seem to be ‘unable’ to conceive in order to get the said male heir!
Great article. Great that you stand up for yourself in front of A1 and A2.
Thanks Sandhya. That’s the same experience another friend of mine with one daughter recounted. And more often then not its women who make these remarks…
Lovely post Smitha!
The trend is changing now and I know a lot of people (including me) who prefer to have girls to boys 🙂 Its not easy to explain the preference to the older generation and so I just leave it. But some of the older generation have changed and hopefully we can look for a better future.
Amen to that Jochi!
I am always proud that we are 2 girls (my Sis & I) for my parents, I have a lovely daughter & would love to bring forth more girls into this world 🙂
Yes Rose! Here’s to girl power. But we are also the lucky few who can genuinely say, feel and live that
Its uncanny how both our deliveries were similar.MY first child arrived under G.A and the second one courtesy an epidural. But here the similarities end. My second child was a boy. The congratulatory notes that followed had me thinking! What if it had been a boy? Would people have been embarrassed to congratulate me.My hubby and I were both open to the sex of the child.A BABY IS A BABY. Both our kids’ arrivals have been eagerly expected.But I was really disappointed with the others responses. I can understand and empathise with what you went through. Thank God for every royal idiot , there is a decent human being. An old gentleman once told me , ‘A daughter is a daughter for life, your son will be your son until he gets a wife. He has a son.Only child!
Thanks for sharing Neelakshi. I feel for that gentleman’s son though…he is living with a label too :-))
I wish we could just let kids be, they are a special joy any which way isn’t it?
Smitha, simply cheery post! I am the youngest of 3 girls in my family, i cant bear to think the reaction my parents would have received from the folks around 3 decades ago, when their third child was also a daughter. My parents are in their 70s, they still have relatives making shady comments of how sad they are for my parents cos in their retired lives, they dont have a son to look after them. I dont know if life would have been better blessed for my parents with a son in the family, but I do know that they are one of the most settled, happiest and chilled out elderly couple i have seen ever. They have seen all 3 of us settle very well in life, they continue to work even at this age and as my parents say have gone back to honey moon days with just the 2 of them living and cherishing the small beauties in life!
There is a wonderful saying :
A son is a son till he gets a wife,
A daughter is a daughter for life 🙂
I always knew that I would prefer a daughter. Even now, when I am divorced and issuelesss. Even though the efforts for my second marriage is drawing blanks, yet I harbour hope that I would at least be able to adopt a girl as a single, unmarried mother (because I love kids), be able to convince my family to let me move to a comparatively “modern” and non-interfering place like Bangalore/Mumbai (I am currently based in Kolkata) and be able to raise my daughter in a cultured and intellectual environment, make her understand the joys of knowledge and set her onto a life full of choices.
This is so well expressed,I am an only daughter and now also a mom to an only daughter.So i know !!
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I have three daughters and i have been thru each and every thing mentioned in the article and comments above.bless the girls ,they r anytime better than the boys in my family. Its like when ever they see how well they do in their respective fields’ their parents always will be told or snided by “still its not the same thing” “we have boys” hahaaaaaaaaaaaa
I love this – ““It’s ok…you have another princess now“. Really? It’s ok? I am blessed you fool!”
Being a mother of two daughters I’ve always considered myself to be ‘Twice Blessed’ but I too have encountered similar reactions from people right from labour room till even now..!! So I could relate to almost everything that you have written so well. During my second delivery despite repeatedly asking, the sex of the newborn was not revealed to me for they feared that I would go into postpartem shock.The nursing staff could’nt believe their eyes when my overjoyed and visibly relaxed husband distributed sweets and gave them tips( which they did’nt demand b’coz the child was a second daughter..!!) When my girls were younger I was ‘advised’ to ‘try a third time’ as my family was not ‘complete’..More enlightend ones sort of consoled me by saying “chalo, koi nahin, ladka-ladki ek hi hain”..Except for my friends no one believed me when I told them that I always wanted to have two girls and having them is like God having answered your prayers..Now that my daughters have grown into self assured lovely ladies, I don’t have deal with such unsolicited and regressive comments..What shocks me d most is that even the well educated ones have not been able to overcome their patriarchal biases..
Nice post.. you make world a better place 🙂
I too have 2 daughters and m blessed to hve them…..but I remember when A2 was born the doc n nurse didn’t inform my family who were outside!! They were so tensed thinking something is wrong with the child….with all courage when they approached the nurse she said baby is healthy n fine now they were worried that something happened to me!! At last doctor took them to her room n informed that both r fine!! When asked why this was not informed when asked previously doc said that as soon as family member is informed that the baby is girl they all used to start crying!! Hence they were not informed!! Great!! This shows that how illogical some are still…on top of that they look at us with pity for having daughters!! And want to know if planning for boy!! As if its in my hands!! Seriously
It’s fortunate but having daughters in india parents have to go through because can’t change society culture and more over women itself responsible for because having sons they are the ones who overshow off and so much pride that leads ro dowry putting men superior than women
I think both are needed. We just have one lifetime and need to have both boy and girl as kids.
And so what do you suggest? Trying and aborting the same sex child until you get conceived with the other gender?
I can resonate with your views. People esp my own friends went on length uninvited to discuss the pros n cons of having only girls during my postpartum when all that I expected was genuine congratulatory note from them. They all have boys so it made the whole experience more traumatic and I am still trying to come to terms with loss of my old friends even after an year of birth of my darling second daughter.
i am mother of a 7yr daugter……I am expecting my second child…do not know whether it is a boy or girl……but want be to very happy and a great mother to my second kid if it is a daughter….i should face the world with all my boldness
i have 2 daughters and no son…..my husband always wished for a son but was dissappointed everytime during my c sections .i had 3 csections and got tubectomy operation.when my first daughter was born with c section ,i was quite happy,sometimes sad and depressed.when my 2nd daughter was born with c sec ……..iiiiiiiiwas recovering my father passed away ……and i couldn’t attend his funeral……………again iwas ssssooooooooooooooo depressed .it took lots of time to come out of trauma with all this…………after some time ihad last csec……..and again it was a girl who survived for only 4 days ad passed away…………..now my life is fully ruined….iam like just breathing not living life,highly qualified,well being family, multitalented,go getter
cooprative ,committed,sacrificed all my happiness ………..but still incomplete.my husband has always wanted a boy………he is planning for a second marriage ………..iam like ….i dont have words to say……where do i stand ,whats my identity, where i went wrong ,what i want , what i got……am fully depressed…..iam not childless ,instead of having two daughters ,i feel iam childless…………………dont want to live,neither i can die…..iam very unfortunte……………..
Sister you will definitely have a happy life.. you just love those girls.. teach them good things and love the most
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