#Opinion

No Pregnancy Is A Late Pregnancy And Kishwer Merchant Proves It

Kishwer Merchant Baby name late pregnancy, Kishwer Merchant pregnant

Late pregnancy, breaking the stereotypes: When television actors Kishwer Merchant and Suyyash Rai married in 2016, they long-jumped the hurdle of the age difference convention, with Merchant having nine years over Rai. Not to mention, she was well into her 30s when she tied the knot. Now that the couple is all set to welcome their first child together, arriving later this year in August, another wall has been broken down, that of late pregnancy.

But should any pregnancy be dubbed a “late” one? Marriage, pregnancy and motherhood – strictly in that order in India – are seen as major life checkpoints for a woman, for which ground rules seem to have been set in stone by patriarchy. Society has imbued in us the propriety of living life per age, decade by decade, that manifests in “settling down” with a family.

Fortunately, these dated (and frankly, irrelevant) norms are being dismantled, slowly but surely.

Why Asking Couples About Pregnancies And Babies Is Problematic

Merchant for instance, who is becoming a mother for the first time at 40, doesn’t see age as a barrier to motherhood. That conception at her age was a smooth process, convinced her that “40 is the new 30.” As far as the physical pressures of pregnancy at a certain age are concerned, yes, perhaps some factors need to be considered. But beyond that, the social constructs don’t hold ground.

Because must choices like parenthood be restricted by age? Should couples bring a child into their family unit when society instructs or when they themselves are truly ready to become parents? And must anyone else have agency over the decisions a woman makes with regard to her body, especially vis-a-vis something that is so personal and taxing for no one else but her?

Late Pregnancy : Forget 30s, say hello to the 40s. Kishwer Merchant pregnant proves it, women are normalising the idea of older women having babies when they want

Merchant in her baby announcement post on Instagram wrote in the caption, “You can now stop asking “when are you guys gonna have a baby” – which is something not uncommon to hear in India where everyone’s noses are in every other person’s businesses except their own.

Asking couples when they’ll have a baby shouldn’t be acceptable, actually. I give you three reasons why:

  • For starters, it reinforces the heteronormative idea of marriage that disregards relationships between same-sex couples who may not be able to conceive without external intervention or others who simply don’t want to conform to what’s mainstream.
  • Secondly, it proffers the idea that a family isn’t really complete without a baby – a claim that is farcical and unfounded. A family can be a human and a pet, two humans married, three humans living together. What constitutes a family is objective.
  • And finally, asking when someone’s “having” a baby completely excludes those couples for whom it is biologically impossible to conceive or those who choose adoption.

Late Pregnancy? No, Let’s Just Call It Pregnancy

What also demands change along those lines is distinguishing pregnancies by age. Calling a pregnancy a “late pregnancy” or a “delayed” one for instance directly insinuates that the soon-to-be-mother will come into motherhood later than what was expected of her. Or rather what is expected of all women.

Celebrity moms in the West, like Halle Berry, Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep – all of whom bore kids after 40 – have set examples declaring loud and clear that a woman’s body knows what it wants. The clock it runs on cannot be set to the beat of what society desires. The right to adjust its hands lies only with the person who owns it.

So it’s only fitting to contend that what we know as “late pregnancy” is a myth. A mindless myth that has for so long fed into the patriarchy that seeks to make women’s choices for them. One that needs to be done away with if women are to live life on their own terms.

Views expressed are the author’s own. 

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