3 Reasons I’m (Mostly) Ignoring My Due Date

A pregnant woman’s due date can mean a lot. It’s the standard question she gets from strangers. Inputting it online procures alerts about what fruit or French pastry her baby resembles in size each week. It charts her ‘progress,’ determining the topics of each medical appointment and when she can have that long-awaited ultrasound. It’s how she plans her last day at work or a baby shower. It might even be the same as a holiday or a friend’s birthday, which can heighten its excitement. It helps to prepare for a MAJOR event in her life.

So why am I trying to ignore this important date the second time around?

Well, with my first child, my due date was 8 days after my sister’s due date, which was VERY. FREAKING. EXCITING. I cannot stress that enough, seeing as these were not only first babies for both of us, but first grandchildren in our family. Our joint family baby shower involved a decorated calendar where everyone placed bets on when each baby would be born, and there would be prizes! Throughout our pregnancies, our symptoms were almost like clockwork.  What she experienced one week, I would a week later. It was wonderful to share all those details with someone whom I knew got exactly what I was talking about.

Then my nephew was born – 10 days early. So naturally, once he had made his arrival, my brain went into hyper-anticipation-readiness mode: That means it’s only a week until I go into labour!!! Of course, in the way that it does, reality kicked my expectation-having ass with nearly another month of waiting. Our boys’ birthdays are 27 days apart.

So while due dates are all very well and useful for some things, here are the three reasons I’ve been thinking of a ‘due month’ this time around:

3 ReasonsI'mIgnoringMyDue Datethe 2ndTimeAround

#1. It keeps everyone else’s (completely understandable and unintentional) pressure at bay… which helps me to feel less stress. 

When asked with baby #2, “When are you due?” my most common response has been “Not until the end of March,” or “Sometime late March/early April.” No one’s really been counting down the way they were the first time (including me!), which has reinforced in my own head that there is no reliable countdown to do, so therefore I don’t stress about it. Sure, it was a little embarrassing at prenatal yoga to be the only one in the circle who usually couldn’t remember how many weeks along she was, but it’s been kind of nice when even close friends ask casually, “So wait, when’s your  actual due date again? I forget.”

#2. I can truly enjoy the early days of mat leave this time around.

With my first pregnancy, I was a bundle of nervous excitement from the moment I left work on my last day. The nine days I went past my due date were the most impatient I have ever known, as each day I woke up thinking, surely it’s got to be today!  I expended most of my energy trying every natural induction remedy in the book: massage, stretch and sweeps, spicy food, hours of bouncing on an exercise ball, copious amounts of red raspberry leaf tea, as much sex as I could get my body positioned for, and as long and brisk walks as I could handle at a 40-week waddle. Also, certain that the wee lamb was going to come by his due date (if not early!), I had long checked off my to-do-before-baby-comes list. I was impatient to start using all those clean baby clothes and strapped-in carseat, not to mention eating the delicious freezer meals my mother-in-law had stocked in my kitchen. This time, I’ve been off work for a week and there are still things on the to-do list that haven’t been done, but I figure I’ll never know when it’s down to the wire, and it could still be weeks away, so why not just take a walk, get a pedicure, or read a book for now?

#3. It turns out maybe it’s not possible to know when your ‘due date’ should be, anyway.

A recent study on women’s gestational length suggests that why babies don’t generally come on their ‘due dates’ might have less to do than previously thought with errors in calculation or inability to pinpoint when conception actually took place. Instead, the study found that even when you know exactly when a woman conceived, the length of a normal, healthy pregnancy still varies by as much as five weeks. Five weeks! Knowing this last time, instead of thinking that babies who don’t come on their due date are either ‘early’ or ‘late,’ probably would have kept me from some of my impatience and stress about it. Medical issues aside, I imagine the same could be said of mothers whose babies come ‘early,’ and so they may have different worries or stress as a result. When I think about it, it makes sense that there would be this much variation. Women are all different, our bodies are all different, and our babies and experiences of motherhood are certainly all different, so why would we expect pregnancy length to be an exception? Maybe this is just another (small) example of how we can do better on accepting our diversity as women and mothers, rather than feeling pressure to fit into some standard mold.

So if you want to love your due date, love it. If you want to live by it and build to-do lists around it, power to you! But if it ends up stressing you out, making you impatient, or causing unnecessary worry about being ‘early’ or ‘late,’ then perhaps remembering that a ‘due date’ is really more of a ‘due month’ might help.

 

 

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