It’s been an interesting month of waiting. My Estimated Due Date was September 5 (the Ob/Gyn practice calculation indicated September 4 or September 6, so we split the difference and adopted the obvious date of Labor Day at our first appointment back in early February). Because this was a second pregnancy, many family members assumed this baby would arrive early. And with Brian and Isaac enjoying a pre-school and pre-baby trip to Florida in August, the well-meaning check-ins started early. So now that it’s September 17, I’ve been on “any day now” mode for more than two weeks. And this week, my clock reset for another two weeks.
First, let’s talk about the Estimated Due Date. It is based on the first day of a 28 day cycle. Also, as the linked article states, there is an assumption that all pregnancies are 38 weeks. I’ll point out that scientifically, those two assumptions are incorrect. But it’s what all medical practices do, and it seems that almost anyone will ask “when are you due?” so it’s good to have an answer. “Labor Day!”
Even being a trained engineer who reads scientific journal articles and understands statistics that indicate anytime between 38 – 42 weeks is within the normal range of “full term,” passing my due date, then going another week, then starting on the next week made me start to question myself. Is there something I need to let go before this baby will come? Am I too distracted, too busy? Am I eating enough to make sure the baby is big enough to be ready? My underlying belief is that I’m a healthy person and all signs pointed to this being a healthy baby and healthy pregnancy – and even Brian agrees I’m eating a lot! So, the baby will arrive when it’s ready. But the external influences start to pile up – countless questions of “when are you going to have this baby?” and “how long will they let you go?” and comments of “you’re still here?!”
Fortunately we have a terrific midwife and birth team who attended my labor with Isaac and have been helpful, informative and encouraging the past 20 weeks. This week, after a normal checkup, Kim suggested that even though things are probably fine, maybe I should get an ultrasound biophysical profile just to reassure ourselves going into the weekend that baby is still thriving. She scheduled an appointment with Shaila Associates; we can’t say enough positive about the experience there. The sonographer was friendly, gentle, explained what she was doing at each step, answered questions, cooed at the baby, and even cracked a few jokes. She was patient with the extremely active twisting and moving baby who managed to get hiccups in the middle of the process, making it even harder to get all the measurements and readings!
In addition to passing the screenings for amniotic fluid, placenta health, umbilical cord blood flow, movement (is there extra credit there?), practice breathing, heart rate, and muscle tone, she also took measurements to estimate baby’s size. While certainly not exact (plus or minus 1 lb) and much more dependent on genetics than developmental stages that are more easily seen in early ultrasounds, the baby seems to be around 6 lbs 9 oz, and shows no signs of being “post-term.” This was the most interesting part, and got us thinking about that Estimated Due Date.
Unlike my first pregnancy, my fundal height has been smaller this time, which we attributed to the baby being transverse. When we hold up the “your baby’s size this week” drawing, it always seems a little bigger than I am. There has been plenty of room for baby to move around, when it should be getting pretty tight in there by now. And while I started early labor contractions with Isaac almost a week before he was due, I didn’t have any before September 5, and have only started having a few occasional contractions the past few days. I didn’t keep detailed notes on “important dates” in December, but with Brian and I comparing notes, we came up with an alternative scenario that would place the due date at today, which seems consistent with the other evidence now that we put it all together. We are now chalking this one up to mis-calculated due dates and resetting the clock.
So, all around, we are relieved to have the ultrasound and data reporting a healthy baby and we’re back to waiting to see when it will decide it’s time to appear, realizing that it could be any time in the next two weeks. We’ll keep waiting.
In the mean time, I’m not sure how to adequately describe what it’s like for each day to feel like it could be “it.” At work, I have only taken on tasks I can finish that day, or within a few hours (knowing that if I go into labor, I would be able to make a few phone calls or send one more email and turn on my Out of Office message), or that can wait until after I return from leave. At home, things have been ready for over a month. The nursery is set up, wall decals arranged, clothes and diapers washed and put away, and birthing kit assembled. I even packed a hospital bag that includes clothes for me, Brian and baby – unlike last time. Today we cleaned up the play room and sun room, and I scrubbed the kitchen floor. We’ve stayed caught up on laundry and dishes. We have our short list of names ready for when we meet the baby. There is gas in the car and food in the fridge. Still waiting…. practicing patience, and trying to treat each day as a bonus to spend as a family of three.