When you are about 20 weeks pregnant you can find out the gender of your baby. This is a milestone of pregnancy that many expectant parents eagerly await.
From the moment I found out I was pregnant, one of my first thoughts was that I did not want to know the gender of the baby. I wanted to not only keep it a surprise from other people but I also wanted to keep it a surprise from ourselves. What would knowing the gender do for me?
Yes, perhaps I could buy more gender specific clothing. Perhaps I could paint the baby's room various shades of pink or blue. But something deep down inside of me just did not want to know. I preferred to be subject to what once was life's biggest mystery. Besides, with our struggles in fertility I was just grateful to be pregnant.
My husband and I thought our decision to not find out the gender of our baby would just be our mystery to deal with. Boy, where we WRONG.
EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE had an opinion to give us on why we should be finding out. By EVERYONE I mean not only future grandparents -- they were down right angry at us and to this day think we know and are just not telling them -- but friends, co-workers, the Indian Aunties (more on that later) and most baffling of them all, downright strangers.
As most pregnant women know, strangers have no problem coming up to you at a restaurant, in a store, at the mall, at the movies and virtually any other place where your ballooning belly is visible to them and wanting to ask you about your pregnancy.
Question #1 -- When are you due?
Question #2 -- What are you having?
For me, the positive inquiry ended with question #2.
The look of horror and disbelief when you reveal that you are choosing not to find out if it is a boy or a girl was shocking the first handful of times it happened. Eventually I got used to it.
The most interesting, and possibly stereotypical reaction I received was from the fearless, opinion-sharing, knowers of all things -- the Indian Aunties. Top to bottom, when any Indian Aunty saw my bloated belly they would take one look at me and say "I think it's a boy."
Boys were the cherished gender in traditional Indian culture (and in many other cultures across the world). The desire for a boy came from a very practical place. In many countries, the transfer of land could only go to a son.
Before the era of the retirement homes (which were virtually unheard of in India until recently), it was a son and his new family who would care for parents into their old age. Girls, while loved, were considered burdensome because someday they would need to be married and would move far away from the family. Not to mention that in many parts of India to marry a daughter required a substantial dowry.
While Indian culture has come a very long way and many of the boy/girl stereotypes have largely disappeared, there is still something lingering in the culture that prefers boys. It is deeply-rooted and after much internal debate on the topic, I think it comes from an honestly good place. To say "I think it is a boy" in Indian culture basically means that you are wishing the soon-to-be parents a healthy, happy baby.
By Deepika Sandhu
Follow Deepika on Twitter @newindianwife
Read more of her posts in her column, called 'Journey to Baby' at masalamommas.com