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Sowmya Rajendran rants on Facebook about the utter cluelessness of men about pregnancy, and the danger of romanticising it, as in the blockbuster Arjun Reddy and the recent remake Kabir Singh.
Now that the world seems to have freshly woken up to the misogyny in Arjun Reddy thanks to Kabir Singh, I want to write about one thing in the original which really annoyed me. The idea that a planned pregnancy is ridiculous. Not only does our man, a doctor, diss people who plan a pregnancy, the film also ends on a note which suggests that this irresponsible behaviour is what brings the couple together once again.
Most men in our country have no clue about pregnancy, childbirth and what follows after. The minute the wife becomes pregnant, she’s bundled off to her maternal home and apart from a few dutiful visits, the men are largely absent in this period. It’s no surprise then that pregnancy and childbirth are glorified to the extent that they are in all the art created by men. And abortion vilified.
There’s no understanding whatsoever that pregnancy and childbirth are the most disruptive events in a woman’s life.
I threw up for three whole months when I was pregnant. The first trimester was all about me feeling very hungry and then puking everything that I had eaten. Then developing hunger headaches, eating and puking all over again. There was nothing remotely charming about it.
The second trimester was relatively pleasant but hey I developed whitecoat hypertension and spent a good part of my time wondering if I was causing irreparable damage to the fetus and if I might die on the delivery table (yes, paranoia is another fun part of pregnancy).
The last trimester was all about severe heartburn and trying to draw a distinction between myself and an overlarge duck.
Then of course, there was the 26 hour labour during which the blood vessels on my face burst due to the pain and I finally ended up with a C-section because no matter what the doctor tried, the baby wouldn’t come out.
It’s not over. After delivery, you bleed for many more days. And then you also have to breastfeed, and this goes on for nearly 2 effing years.
In the first six months, the baby feeds about every two hours – day and night. Which means you can forget about sleeping. Remember that the woman is doing all the feeding with a body that’s already worn out by the effects of pregnancy and childbirth (hello, urinary incontinence anyone?). You can literally feel your bones creaking. I used to have a crystal clear memory before pregnancy – after my daughter came along, I feel like a part of my brain (the one with the lights on) died and I’m walking in a fog. If you get plenty of rest and help, you will somewhat come back to what you were before the tornado hit you. Struggling with weight gain is only one teeny weeny part of it.
Nothing tests the strength of a marriage more than the arrival of a new baby. With the mother turning into a dairy cow who feels dressed up if she’s managed to button up her nightie and the father being utterly clueless about what to do (and in most cases, choosing to be out of the childcare picture), the communication between the two breaks down. Most new mommy groups are full of ranting mothers who are disillusioned by their spouse whom they saw as prince charming in their deluded days and who now look decidedly like prince alarming.
If the woman is employed, this is the most difficult time in her professional life. She has to pump breastmilk at work (not fun at all – it’s painful, messy and involves more cleaning than what she’s already doing) if she has to keep up the supply, stay focused on barely any sleep, and figure out childcare which doesn’t result in the baby getting abused in some expensive daycare OR deal with the indulgent grandparents who won’t listen to her instructions.
Planning a pregnancy, when the woman has figured out what she wants in her personal and professional life, when the couple have lived together and know that they can take the stress of a new life, is the most sensible decision that anyone can take. Arjun Reddy’s ridiculous attitude towards contraception (and his girlfriend is a doctor just like him – with a career ahead) can only be explained by the fact that he seems to think with his dick throughout the film.
So dear young women who are in love with the idea of “intense romance” presented in the film, please remember that the charm of a fabulous jawline will fade quickly when you are knee-deep in diaper land and he’s nowhere around because he’s busy being Arjun Reddy.
A version of this was first published on the author’s Facebook wall.
Author bio: Sowmya Rajendran is a feminist, and an award winning writer of many books for children and grown-ups, and also reviews films. She’s a Deputy News Editor with The News Minute.
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