“Masha Allah, you look happy! You’re pregnant?” I heard a lady ask another woman, from across the waiting room outside a gynecologist’s clinic.
It made me feel so uncomfortable and, actually, angry. The period from marriage to pregnancy and then to motherhood is fraught with challenges for the woman. People, especially the mothers, generally take this fact for granted and believe that there is no need to educate the bride-to-be, she’ll learn it herself anyway.
The married couples, especially the newly weds, and the mothers-to-be should talk to counsellors about their fears and what major changes shall come about in their bodies.
People often think that every couple would be happy with the news of the baby, but how many ask the woman if she is expecting, without actually making her feel guilty?
Before a couple enters into a marriage, other than medical checkups they should also be given counselling so that they understand and are ready to work on their relationship before they plan their baby.
The journey from the waiting room of a gynecologist to the doctor’s cubicle is not a pleasant one, trust me. You find all types of women sitting in the waiting — women with glowing faces who are expecting for the first time, women with their toddlers in their arms and a baby on the way, some who ‘never planned’ one, and some who are sick because of pregnancy. As the newly married woman sits waiting to see the doctor, she is obviously lost in her own thoughts about the checkup etc. Her worries are aggravated by different sets of prying eyes — the other ladies sitting around who are judging you: are you here for a checkup? How long have you been pregnant for? Are you there because you haven’t conceived yet? So on and so forth. It all makes me cringe and wonder why we don’t realise that we can get so intrusive.
Next, I notice a lady telling a girl, apparently her daughter-in-law, in a firm tone that she wants a boy(!). The girl replies every single time, “Allah karey bus sehat mand ho!” (I hope the baby is healthy, irrespective of gender.) The mother-in-law is not quite pleased.
Finally, my name is called out. It’s my turn to see the doctor. I enter the room; Gosh, it’s teeming with patients! A pregnant woman is having her Ultra Sound done, right in front of everyone around. Others don’t seem to be paying much attention to it but I feel a woman’s privacy being invaded.
A girl is showing what seems to be a lab report to the doctor. The doctor glances through it and asks her, “Aap report dekh sakti hian na k kia masla hia?”(You can read in the report what the problem is, can’t you?) The girl replies: “Mujhe nai pata test ka result kia bata raha hia, aap bata dein,” (I don’t know what the report says; kindly explain it to me.) The doctor without answering her starts to jot something down on a piece of paper, and tells the girl to take her husband to a specialist.
I find her behaviour as totally unbecoming of a doctor. She is being paid for her work, and it’s her responsibility to give complete information to her patients. This was about the couple’s life, and their future, but the doctor seems least bothered.
And I am compelled to think why the gynecologists, who are females themselves, do not understand the problems that the common women are faced with, especially regarding child-bearing. How come they don’t empathise with the other women? Right from their big day throughout their lives, the women have to face a highly intrusive society.
Eventually, when it’s my turn, I tell the doctor that I need privacy to discuss my issue with her. She looks back at me, as if completely surprised, and agrees but not without pulling a long face. She tells the staff not to send anyone else in for a while.