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?)