Married in the Peace Corps: WHERE THE *#@% IS YOUR BABY?!

By Amy

On September 5, Will and I celebrated three years of marriage. Well, “celebrated” is a bit misleading as I attempted to make an apple pie in honor of our chosen wedding desert and we looked at about 1500 pictures from our wedding. We plan to do real celebrating at a later time when we can get away from site.

That being said, the longer we have been in Indonesia, and the longer we are married, and with each birthday I have the questions about when we will FINALLY have some children are coming at us more and more often. I often joke that my school is both a school and a baby making factory. Two of my three counterparts have been pregnant in the last year and every couple of months I go with other teachers from my school to see a fellow teacher’s new baby. I’ve seen so many Indonesian newborns and babies that it’s super strange to see a white baby on vacation in Bali.

In the area where we live, if a couple has been married for a year or so, it’s assumed that they want to have children. If they haven’t had a baby yet, it’s assumed that there might be a problem. Therefore, everyone wants to know, “where is your baby!?” I always explain to people that it’s against Peace Corps policy to have children while serving. In fact, if you get pregnant in the Peace Corps, and choose to carry the baby to term, you have to go back to the United States.

Then, of course, people want to know why it’s a rule. Our health handbook says that Western women’s bodies can’t fight off certain threats to the fetus the way that women born in Indonesia can. I’ve also heard it’s because of the threat of malaria. And, of course, I’m sure the Peace Corps doesn’t want to be responsible for a baby in a developing world medically or financially. So, that’s the end of the discussion right?

Nope. Then people want to know what kind of contraception I’m on if I’ve avoided getting pregnant for three whole years. Given that I’m not comfortable going into my contraception of choice on this blog, you can imagine how embarrassing this is for me. It’s not just my close friends that ask—of course they do, too. But, it’s also female and male teachers at both of our schools, it’s shop keepers, it’s a tour guide within the first three minutes of our conversation…it’s everyone!

Will tells me that I should look at it as a teaching opportunity as many people around us rely on the calendar for family planning—and he’s right. I used to just kind of gloss over the question to get out of it, but I’ve been trying to be more straightforward. Each time it should get easier, but I still get red faced and try to think of something else to talk about. I’m one of the few Peace Corps volunteers that can actually talk about family planning in an appropriate cultural context (because I’m married), and I need to be mature about it—the Indonesians that ask about it sure don’t seem to get red faced and giggly.

The question of children does have it’s benefits though. When people ask us if we will sign up for a third year in the Peace Corps we tell them, “Oh, that would be great, but we want to have a baby and we can’t do that here!” Now that, they can understand.


2 thoughts on “Married in the Peace Corps: WHERE THE *#@% IS YOUR BABY?!

  1. I know how you feel….Shane’s host family is constantly telling me to have a baby, like several times every time I see them, I don’t know how to tell them nicely that at my age that would be considered a “life ruiner”

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