Monday, June 16, 2008

on due dates (and our doula)

I've always thought of Daniel as the one who "waited" 12 days past his due date to come out, as if he were a "stubborn" little bun in the oven, or maybe just so attached to his mama that he was in no hurry to come out — and Ben as the one who came a week early, as if he were eager to see the world or be the "easy" baby, wanting to make his mama happy. Or something. Somehow, I've managed to attach (or project) personality traits to their "lateness" or "earliness."

But in truth, I know each of them was right on schedule. Neither of my sons was born early or late, but within the normal range of when babies are born. I learned that from our doula, Rebecca, who sometimes comments on this blog and writes about her own lovely family on her own blog. (Up until now, I've kept our wise and wonderful doula's identity a secret here, so now I'm introducing her!) One of Rebecca's recent posts is about one of her pet peeves — those pregnancy counters that people put at the top of their blogs that count down to that magical date when their baby is due to arrive. Of course, it's not such a magical date. As Rebecca points out: "Babies are considered full term if born between 37 and 42 weeks. That's a five week window. You can have your baby three weeks 'early' and be on time. You can have your baby two weeks 'late' and be on time. It's more like a due month."

I knew this, of course, as Rebecca gently reminded me of it during those waiting days with Daniel. Yet I find it interesting how we fixate on the day anyway and assign all sorts of meaning to when the baby decides to come. That's a lot of pressure around one day. I know some women who play it vague when telling people their due dates. "Oh, sometime in early June." I think that's a good idea. They might have it circled on the calendar in their mind, but at least the rest of the world doesn't have to jump into the fray.

When I was pregnant with Ben, though, and there were two possible dates when he could have been conceived, the midwives did want to pin down a due date, as most OB care providers probably do. They wanted to be sure that if he did head into the 42-week area, they'd have a pretty good idea of when they'd need to start taking action, especially since he was a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) baby. The pregnancy calculators ranged from March 31 to April 2, so we took the happy medium, April 1. I imagine some women prefer to take the latest date they can so they can let their baby gestate as long as possible without having to talk about inducing. (Any thoughts on that, Rebecca?)


kristine said...

Ha ha! I am one of those 'pregnancy counter' people!! It's hard not to fixate on the date. Although, the last 2 weeks when people asking me "When's the baby coming?" I have replied with "well, that I don't know but he's due *around* june 21" See, there are so many of us that are such planners and do-aheaders that we all need to know eveyrthing. I am so one of those people. Yes, when you have the baby is a 5 week window (realistically) but to have some sort of 'ending' to it, I guess, makes you feel better. Well, me, at least.

Monkeymama said...

It is funny how strongly I sense the personality differences between Rebecca and Joe. I do wonder if that sort of thing is born in or if I am molding them by treating them based on this idea I have. :)

Joe was nearly 2 weeks late and I totally think of him as my laid back guy who goes with the flow and seems content with whatever.

Rebecca was born a day after the date the doctor calculated with his wheel and the day before my NFP chart had her due. She really seems to be bothered when things are out of routine - she likes everything to happen as expected and wants a reason if things don't go on schedule.

It's a funny coincidence, if nothing else!

Rebecca said...

Thanks for outing me, Emilie! I'm happy you did.

I am one of those people who tried to claim the latest due date possible. I wanted to lower our friends' and families' expectations of when the baby would come, and I wanted to postpone any 42-week induction pressure as long as possible, too (while still monitoring baby with non-stress tests, of course).

I'm still looking for a correct countdown ticker. Does anyone know of any? If not, does anyone want to get together to design one?

jessica said...

I loved having tickers for my two sons because it gave me a visual image of the pregnancies' progressions. We never fixated on the EDD but then we didn't have time, as DS1 arrived a full week early and DS2 showed up at 38 weeks.

Anonymous said...

Em, I know a lot of people who get annoyed with the whole "due date" thing. That's funny how some people will actually have a countdown on their blog!

Ben looks like a doll! Like a porcelain doll!

- Susanne

Anonymous said...

I'm totally in the End Of July camp rather than the date. In my mind there is no chance at all the sib will come on my due date. I had a pick of a couple dates and took the later one, too. Now they're saying the baby is measuring at 1.5 weeks bigger than exepected. It's going to be BIG, that's all I know. And that's okay.

--Laura S.

Elena said...

This is kind of off-topic, but you look great in light blue, Em.

Ahuva Batya said...

Our due date seems to change with every appointment... so I will keep in mind the "due month" concept. But I hang my head in shame, for I have a due-date-counter.