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It Is A Universal Truth That Every Married Woman MUST Want A Baby…Says Who?

I don’t want to give birth. I don't want to be a mother. Not now, not ever. And nothing will change my mind. No gods in heaven, no family on earth can shake this decision I made years ago.

I don’t want to give birth. I don’t want to be a mother. Not now, not ever. And nothing will change my mind. No gods in heaven, no family on earth can shake this decision I made years ago.

A few weeks ago, I posted a picture on my Facebook account where my husband and I could be seen holding our best friends’ newborn baby. Before hitting ‘post’, I made sure that the caption clarified it’s not my child. I wrote the little munchkin’s full name and tagged both my friends too.

My worry might seem like an overreaction. “Who cares if someone mistakes the baby to be yours,” some might say. But this anxious feeling emerges from a trend. The trend of jumping to conclusions without paying attention.

Social media citizens are notoriously image-driven. Enter a heterosexual married couple holding a newborn child, and heteronormative social conditioning kicks in unannounced. After few minutes of posting the picture (which I deleted later for my own peace of mind), congratulations popped into my messenger inbox. Another came from a colleague on WhatsApp. Others could be found in the post’s comments section.

When I clarified that the baby was not mine, one person responded: “You and your husband look so natural with a baby. You should have one.”

Stop right there!

I quivered. Firstly, this well-meaning person knows hardly anything about me or my life journey. But she assumes that throwing in birthing ‘advice’ won’t evoke any discomfort in me.

Am I mad at her? No. I am merely utilizing this anecdote for a bigger conversation.

Secondly, should I just give birth just because I look natural with a baby in a damn picture? Are babies some factory-manufactured product I can buy off a shelf? Can I order one online?

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After a good walk and some chamomile tea in my system, I sat with the thought. And here’s my truth.

I don’t want to give birth. I don’t want to be a mother. Not now, not ever. And nothing will change my mind. No gods in heaven, no family on earth can shake this decision I made years ago. Children are cute. But I do not want to be pregnant. I do not want to commit to motherhood. Period! If I were a career-driven male, this decision to be childless would have been celebrated, trust me!

We glorify motherhood and burden married cis het women with our expectations

Glorified motherhood via the heterosexual act of birthing is one of the many human imaginations we believe to be the absolute truth of life. A female-identifying married woman must want to give birth. After all, we have spent enormous resources to mythologize this motherhood as the ultimate gift. Films, television shows, reality tv, magazine articles, gossip, shaming ‘baanjh’ (infertile) females, etc. have terrified ones like me to even think otherwise. And if we do dare think otherwise, we keep it a secret. To give birth is all we exist for. That’s the lesson our brains have been stuffed with.

Cultural conversations around pregnancy and motherhood are heavily stunted.

  • Trans women as mothers skip attention.
  • Some women might not want to go through the excruciating nine months.
  • Postpartum depression is not a piece of common knowledge yet.
  • Discussions on financial aspects of motherhood, the effect of rising crime against children on the desirability of motherhood need urgent attention.
  • Cultural chaos, gun violence, deterioration of mental health, capitalist greed also influence women’s interest in birthing.

I have been around enough pregnant women to know the invasion their bodies go through at every doctor’s visit. The injury, the wear and tear of labor take a toll on many mothers’ psyche. Young women wish they could have avoided accidental pregnancies or have had access to safe abortion.

Of course, those who want to be a mother indeed should be one. All power to them! But let’s not assume that unsolicited advice to become mothers is normal. It’s not.

I do NOT want to become a mother!

My aversion to pregnancy is a product of violent capitalist patriarchy. Researching and writing about gender violence makes me want to not have a child in this brutal world. Moreover, I do not want to go through the physical and emotional exhaustion of pregnancy and eventual motherhood. What that makes me or not is for me to decide.

More than anything, I ask, why should I give birth to yet another child when there are so many children in need of a home? Can we rather spend our energies rehabilitating the ones orphaned? Can we rather come together to save innocent childhood from crime and hunger?

An ignorant congratulations or some advice to be a mother is not that big of a deal for me. I can get over it. Such comments do not make the ones giving them evil. We are human. We do human things. But some women are infertile or would want to adopt. Gay couples want to be parents too. Trans women want to be seen and celebrated as mothers beyond this cisgender, heterosexual celebration of pregnancy/motherhood too.

Let’s expand our consciousness. It’s always worth it! Also, pay attention to written words, ha!

Image source: a still from 22 Female Kottayam

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About the Author

Ankita Rathour

Ankita is a feminist academic/writer/journalist. read more...

4 Posts

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