Cultural Perceptions on Managing Post-Baby

There were many things about being pregnant that were completely expected – the nausea, the fatigue, the emotions, the weight gain.

What was completely unexpected was the reaction by women who grew up in India on how I planned to manage post baby.

I tried very hard to not over think my pregnancy.  I focused on the basics but I tried not to get ahead of myself. I tried to focus on the current moment and deal with each step of pregnancy as it came.  My overarching pregnancy philosophy was and still is that everyone does it. I am not the first person to go through this.  Homeless people do it.  Stupid people do it. Short people do it.  Crazy people do it.  No matter what, I will be able to do this.

That includes dealing with the ups and downs of pregnancy as well as figuring out how to manage post-baby.

However, I was in for a quite a shock by the reaction of Indian women to my post-baby plans.

I plan to manage the way so many people the world over manage.  My mom will come for two weeks post-baby but then I am on my own.  Maybe my aunt or my sister will come for another week but essentially after my mom leads me in a two week motherhood boot camp, I will be managing on my own for the rest of my maternity leave.  My mom works and lives 500 miles away.  This is the best arrangement we have and I intend to make the most of it.  Never for a moment as my mom and I discussed our plans early on did I worry about this.  So many women manage with far less assistance that I am confident this will work.  It has too.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I fully anticipate all the difficulties associated with bringing home a newborn and managing alone.  I am not naïve. I know it will be difficult but I have no other option.

However, I do not think it will be as dramatic or difficult as the India-born women in my social circle make it out to be.

“You will never be able to manage, you know.”

“That will just never work.  My mom was with me for two months and I still found it soooo hard.”

“My mummy and papa stayed for six months and that was the only waaaayyy I could imagine handling this.”

I can understand the cultural perspective these women are coming from.  In India it is not uncommon to go to your parent’s home and stay there for a few months following the birth of a newborn.  For the Grandparents sitting in India who are able to come and revel in the joy of a grandchild while providing extra caring arms and legs to their daughters or daughters-in-law, I salute you.  That level of support is wonderful to have.  But the fact that your parents can sweep in from India and stay for months on end is simply not an option that most women have. My non-Indian friends often bring baby home with no help at all.  I am sure having a support network like this would make things easier but this isn’t reality for so many women and it certainly isn’t reality for me either.

There are many different ways to handle a pregnancy and raise a child, including how much help is available or not available to you during those early days of a baby’s existence.  Instead of judging one another, women should support each other and their choices.  Not all family situations are created equal and different approaches are workable.

How my situation will work when baby arrives is yet to be seen.  But I know I am not alone and my situation is not unique.  As much as my family loves me, they are doing everything they can to support me and for that I am truly grateful.

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