When are you due?

Alex writes about why a due date isn't a deadline

By Alex Mlynek
When are you due?

Credit: hjconti

Our newest blogger, Today’s Parent managing editor Katie Dupuis, is waiting to have her baby. She’s overdue and, not surprisingly, anxious to meet her first child.

Update: Wouldn’t you know it, Katie had her baby last night! A little girl named Sophie. Congrats!
I sooo remember those days. I was lucky in that my son was born a day before his estimated due date, but still, I get it.
But my son’s estimated due date wasn’t always that day. For most of my first trimester, I thought it was about three weeks later than that day.
Around the time I was (I thought) nearly 11 weeks pregnant, I noticed my breasts were less sore. I mentioned this to my doctor and she ordered a blood test to check my hCG levels.
It was a Friday night and I was just finishing up my day at work when my doctor called. The results were in. It looked like this wasn’t a viable pregnancy. My hCG levels were falling at time when they should have been doubling every day.
I hadn’t told many people I was pregnant (and certainly none at work), but I couldn’t hold it in. I cried at the office for the first time ever that day when telling my friend (and co-worker) that I wouldn’t be in on Monday because I was getting an ultrasound. I had been given three options. I could get a D and C, have labour induced or wait until things took their course naturally. I spent that weekend thinking the worst, and also hearing the stories of other women who’d had similar, heartbreaking experiences.
My ultrasound was scheduled for 2 p.m. I went in and really had no idea what to expect. The technician was nice enough. She started things and I asked her to turn the monitor away. Then, she said she heard a heartbeat. I didn’t know what that meant. Was everything alright? What was she supposed to be looking for? She asked me the same thing. I explained the situation and she said the only issue she could see was I was three weeks further along than I thought, so it made sense that my hCG levels were falling. I can’t even begin to describe how I felt. Shock. Happiness. Guilt after hearing the stories of miscarriage and knowing I wasn’t in the same place they had been.
The thought of what might have happened if I hadn’t had the ultrasound makes me sick to my stomach. My perfectly healthy child, my sweet Leo… I just can’t.
I had been missdated and I feel like it happens a lot more often than people think. The most commonly used calculation to determine due dates is an estimate based on the average woman’s cycle. In my case, I told my doctor the date of my last period, but apparently what I thought was a period really wasn’t one.
All of this is something that comes to mind when I hear someone is “overdue.” And it makes me think, as long as everything is going well medically — your placenta is healthy, amniotic fluid levels are good — you really shouldn’t rush things. Your baby will come when it’s time to come. Of course, that is easier said than done. The rising numbers of induction rates speak to that. Some are even questioning the idea that 42 weeks is late (nevermind the 40+ weeks we hear about most often). Of course, inductions lead to other interventions and raise the chance your baby will be born via c-section.
I write all this not as a condemnation of those who are more than ready to have their baby and get things started, but really just to help share the perspective I got that day in the ultrasound room. You will meet your baby soon enough. It's fun and useful to have a general idea of when that time will be, but there’s no need to hurry things along. Because an estimated due date is just that, an estimate based on an average. And you and your child are better than average.

Was your child born on their estimated due date? If not, how far off "the mark" were they?

Photo by hjconti via Flickr

This article was originally published on Nov 18, 2011

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