A generation ago, women didn’t have due dates. They had due months. As in, “your baby will arrive sometime in December or January.” This is a much more accurate way of thinking about births, since a “due date” is really a month-long window during which the baby is full-term and could be safely born.
But now that we have all this accurate technology for predicting when you’ve been pregnant for exactly 40 weeks, we circle a single day on the calendar.
Unfortunately for moms who like to plan, the date on the calendar isn’t really any more accurate than the old month-long system was. But even for moms who like to procrastinate and be spontaneous (i.e., me), it’s hard to let a due date slip by unnoticed. I do my best to downplay it; I avoid telling people about it as much as possible without being rude, and I try to think of it as any other day toward the end of pregnancy. After all, the baby could arrive on the due date–but it’s equally likely to arrive the day before. Or the day after. Or a week or so in either direction.
But it’s still a day that’s hard to ignore.
And today is my due date.
My first thought when I woke up this morning was, “No baby yet.” But that wasn’t unusual. I’ve thought that every morning for weeks now (only because I’ve had contractions every night as I’m falling asleep, and the part of me that’s conscious right before I fall asleep half-expects the baby to just pop out while I’m sleeping). My second thought was, “Do I really have to stand up?” Also not unusual–I think this every morning when I realize how sore my left hip is from lying in the same position all night. So it wasn’t until my third thought of the morning that I realized, “Today’s my due date.”
When I was pregnant with Anastasia, my mother-in-law sent me a package (of some of my husband’s baby clothes!) that arrived on my due date. I appreciated that so much. It made the day special.
On Anastasia’s due date, I also set up the changing table. Which just goes to show you how prepared (or rather, how unprepared) I was for her to be born. I was so glad that she was almost two weeks late. I still never did get my house clean.
With this baby, though, I’m a lot more prepared. I’ve already got most of my clutter organized (or at least hidden, which is practically the same thing, right?) and all my diapers and baby clothes clean and ready (because really, what else do you need?). We even got a car seat (which I tend to be lazy about; you have a little more leeway with this when you’re planning a home birth and don’t intend to take the baby out of the house for at least a month). But now I’m faced with a dilemma. What do you do on your due date when all the baby stuff is already prepared?
So far, I’m treating it like a normal day. I took Anastasia to the playground. I had a DiaperFreeBaby phone meeting. Anastasia did an art project. And I’m writing a blog post. I think tonight I’d like to finish decorating the Christmas tree, and maybe watch A Charlie Brown Christmas if we have time before bed (which my husband, shockingly, has never seen!). And if I decide I have to do something special, well, I’ll take a bath. Wait, that’s not special–I do that every night. Ok, then maybe I’ll take a bath with bath salts.
But if I wanted to make today special–if, you know, I didn’t spend as much effort as possible during pregnancy pretending that today is essentially meaningless–then what would I do to make waiting easier? Here are a few ideas. For those of you who, unlike me, believe in due dates.
1. Go to the chiropractor. Nothing makes you feel better than an adjustment when you’re nine months pregnant. In fact, just lying on the table is reason enough to go–it’s the only place where a pregnant woman can lie on her stomach. That alone is worth the price.
2. Get maternity pictures taken. I did this last week. But if I had nothing better to do, I’d do it again. Maybe I’d even get naked maternity pictures. Ok, maybe not.
3. Hire a cleaning service for your house. Because nothing induces labor like having a clean house. Why bother nesting?–pay someone to do the work for you. (I haven’t hired a maid, but my daughter is mopping the floor right now, so that’s pretty close, right? And I don’t even have to pay her!)
4. Research weird birth statistics. Especially as they relate to your due date. Like the fact that only 5% of babies are born on their due date (putting me solidly in the majority, unless I go into labor right now), but the most common day to be born in the United States is Tuesday (so I’d also be in the majority if I did go into labor right now).
5. Go out to eat. You don’t want to be cooking dinner when you’re this pregnant. Here in Atlanta, the place to go when you’re nine months pregnant is Scalini’s, whose eggplant parmesan is supposed to help induce labor. You could, of course, make it at home–but again, why bother? Unless, of course, your significant other wants to make it for you.
6. Finalize the baby’s name. We really should do this. Did I say we were prepared? I forgot about the name part. Yeah, not exactly prepared. Luckily this is another thing you can put off when you’re planning a home birth. Half the baby pictures on my midwife’s website are labeled “Baby Girl” or “Baby Boy” because the parents hadn’t decided on a name by the time the baby arrived.
7. Work on a totally unrelated project. Like your blog. Or that novel you didn’t write during NaNoWriMo. Or the marketing plan for your work-at-home business that you’re going to implement when the baby is six months old. Yes, I’m working on all of these.
8. Work on a baby project, like making wool longies out of recycled sweaters. I would do this today if I had a sewing machine. I asked for one for Christmas, but by the time I have the machine I’ll probably also have a new baby. Oh well. I’ll make Halloween costumes next year.
9. Ignore the phone, especially if it’s a relative who’s likely to ask something like, “When is that baby coming?”
10. Buy yourself a present. I’m ordering my postpartum belly binder today. I’m also going to order the rest of my Christmas presents for relatives while there’s still time to ship from Amazon before Christmas.
Huh. Reading over this list is making me re-think my insistence on downplaying due dates. Maybe I should make a bigger deal out of today. My house could really use a cleaning service…