i got married the month after my 24th birthday. my then fiance and i had been college sweethearts since freshman year, and he proposed shortly after I graduated. i was excited, my family/friends were excited. our engagement was short. we got engaged at the end of the summer and i wanted an early spring wedding so with the help of my mom, we planned a wedding quickly without dragging our feet. in retrospect, i think this was an evil thing to do to my haitian family.
i may have mislead them; I may have lead them to believe that we were in a rush to have children. ooops! my husband and i actually thought it would be great to make our relationship “legal” — and maybe start a family when we were in our early 30s. so we actually planned to hang out, travel lots, and just have fun – sans kids – for for at least 6 years. and most importantly, i did not have the “baby bug” — we both knew we wanted children, just not right away. no one — literally NO ONE — on my haitian side of life seemed to understand that. My mom told me that in Haiti, people got married and shortly thereafter had children. it was even suggested that having children was the reason people get married. (i remember thinking “i’m so glad i’m not in haiti”.)
the first year or two, the pressure was subtle: “oh, i would love to be a grandmother” my mother would say; or “such-and-such is a grandmother now — she’s so lucky — what a blessing!”. my parents’ friends who knew me as a child, would always ask when the babies were coming whenever we saw them. and my dear grandmother made it clear that she hoped to be a great-grandmother “before she died”. i would jokingly respond to these comments in jest: “will you raise the baby after i have it?” or “will you support the baby financially after it’s born?”
by the 3rd year the whispers started: “something must be wrong”; “maybe she’s infertile?”; “what is she waiting for? she’s only getting older”. my grandmother even sent (all the way from brooklyn to philadelphia) what i called a “fertility bouillon” — she made me a special soup that i was told would help me to conceive. it was yummy too! (i enjoyed the soup, but continued to take my birth control pills.) it had reached a point where i put money on the fact that i would get some “where’s the baby?” comment from any older haitian person i encountered. it was exhausting! for the life of me i couldn’t figure out what this obsession with my reproduction was about. why did they care so much? i’m not sure if everyone thought it — but the overwhelming majority of people who expressed “concern” about my childrearing were the haitian people i knew.
finally after being married for 8 years (and most importantly feeling ready to have children) and much to the relief of my haitian collective, we had our first child. *collective exhale* my mom and grandmother were over the moon (and still are)! there was lots of joy and happiness, we had a great baby shower, etc…but before our son even started eating solid foods, these same people were asking about baby #2!! i couldn’t believe it. “he’s going to need a brother or sister”, “you just can’t have one baby”, etc.
having nothing to do with the prodding/pressure, we had a second child about 2 years later — another boy. and wouldn’t you know these same people were suggesting that we try for a girl!? was there some type of lottery going? well lucky for them (or for us) 19 months later, we had a little girl. this actually quieted all the “show me the baby” talk!
i still can’t figure why the pressure though. but i’ll tell you this: having children needs to be your own decision. children are definitely a joy, but they are a huge commitment and lots of work. i love my kids to pieces…and am lucky and glad to have each of them. but i’m SO glad that my husband and i didn’t succumb to the pressure and took our time (all 8 of those years) to enjoy each other’s company one-on-one before introducing children to our team. i have no regrets in the timing — and you will never catch me asking any couple about their plans to conceive. that’s their business!
have you suffered from haitian-people pressure?