Being pregnant in Mozambique is much different than I would imagine it would be in the States. I recently read a blog entry of a friend in the States who is also pregnant. She listed all sorts of crazy comments that people say to her about her pregnancy. Here it is a different story.
When we lived in Gondola, my understanding was that people did not talk about pregnancy with the pregnant woman. One of the women at church told me she was so embarrassed when the former MCC Rep’s wife cheerily asked her when she was due. You just don’t talk about pregnancy in Gondola or amongst people who tend to be more traditional and not as westernized. Why? They fear that the pregnancy will last 14 months, the baby will be born dead or a monkey or some other object. Recently, in the national news of Mozambique, there was a woman who was pregnant and instead of giving birth to a baby, she had several plastic teacups. People believe that talking about pregnancy will inform the spirit world and some harm may come to their baby. So, they just do not talk about it. But when the baby is born, they celebrate and every one is excited for them. I'm really surprised that they go to prenatal appointments but they told me that they can't let anyone know that they are going.
However, here in the city, people do talk about pregnancy. I’ve had several really good conversations with women about being pregnant. On Saturday, I was at a conference for the CCM women’s group and several women who I haven’t seen for a while joyfully exclaimed about my pregnancy. They were so excited for me to be having a baby. Dona Cristina, the woman who heads up the savings group project, always asks me “How’s our baby?” Those who are able to afford to go to the private clinic are accustomed to having ultrasounds and some find out if they are having a boy or a girl. Whereas, when Noemia, our former housekeeper, was expecting and I told her that there were machines that you could see your baby prior to its birth, just looked at me like I had said we lived on the moon.
I think being pregnant here in Mozambique is teaching me more and more about the differences between class and rural/urban. The upper/middle classes and those who are moving up (like teachers’ families) are limiting the number of children they are having and I’ve had conversations with women about that. The lower classes/rural families are still having numerous children. The reception of a pregnant woman in the city is much more one of care (like I experience amongst expats) but perhaps that has to do with being a foreigner, but I think not entirely based on their comments.
At any rate, regardless of class and location, when our baby arrives there will be much rejoicing by everyone who knows us. One of our night guards, told me that when we bring the baby home, we’ll have a “festa” with sodas to celebrate our baby. Joél’s been told that now that we are expecting a baby he is now officially a “Senhor”. He can now be considered a true man because he has a child on the way. Babies are well loved and I’m beginning to see doors opened to me that haven’t previously been options because I am expecting a child.
On the State side, we’ve been overwhelmed with people’s excitement and care for us. I’ve enjoyed emailing close friends who have had babies recently (practically all) and some who are pregnant now. It’s been a good way of getting to know my friends better. On Sunday, my parents’ Sunday School class had a surprise shower for us. It’s amazing to think how my parents’ friends, some who barely know us, are so generous to us. Grace. And I guess that’s what a child is too—a generous gift from God that we do not always know what to do with, except love it and pray for it. (below is a picture of the baby shower)