This time last year was a day that I’d been looking forward to for 40 weeks. A little over 9 months. In many respects, as our journey to have a baby wasn’t as simple as we may have liked, we’d been waiting for this date for longer than that even. You see, Tuesday 2nd June 2015 was Baby Lighty’s due date.
I’ve come to realise over the past year that due dates are a funny thing. They have more emotion attached to them than I’d originally realised before I fell pregnant. For many, like Mrs Lighty, it’s a date of excitement, anticipation and full of hope. The fact that I’d decorated the date on my calendar many weeks before Baby Lighty’s arrival – after his due date wasn’t adjusted any further by the 20 week scan – shows just how excited I was!
Looking back, I like to think that I had quite a realistic approach to Baby Lighty’s due date. I remember being told when I signed up for my NCT classes that I was “leaving them quite late”; the booking coordinator really wanted me to do the session of classes before the ones that I did, but as I explained, we couldn’t do the weekend classes on the previous session as Mr Lighty has to work some weekends. I received a worried email in response, telling me that if Baby Lighty arrived early, I would likely miss the end of the course. But in my mind, if Baby Lighty arrived very early – which I’m very fortunate and glad to say that he didn’t – I’d be missing the end of the course anyway, even if I’d opted for the previous set of classes.
Similarly, I was lucky enough to never really get to that uncomfortable stage of pregnancy, and was in no hurry to rush Baby Lighty along. Even though I’d had a relatively difficult pregnancy, I was never desperate for him to arrive, and it wasn’t until I was being sent to the hospital every couple of days due to potential complications that I started to think that perhaps it would be better if he came along sooner rather than later, more so that I knew that he was safe and sound than because I didn’t want to be pregnant any more. I think this was probably because I was consistently measuring two weeks small the whole way through my pregnancy, so I never felt uncomfortably big, and as I had been repeatedly told that Baby Lighty was likely to be small when he was born, I wanted him to cook for as long as he needed to before he was ready to make his appearance.
Because of this, I didn’t have a problem with sharing my due date with every Tom, Dick and Harry, as our announcement photo is proof! I didn’t even mind too much when everyone and the kitchen sink came out of the woodwork to ask if there were any signs of Baby Lighty arriving, or even if I’d had the baby yet. Whether they thought I’d forgotten to tell them, or that I’d publically reply on Facebook that my waters had broken and I was currently puffing away on the gas and air as I typed, I don’t know!
Baby Lighty was four days ‘late’ in the end, arriving on the date we’d been given originally by the doctor at our first antenatal appointment. It was the 71st anniversary of D-Day, as my Nan pointed out. I can safely say that it felt like I’d been through the wars on that day, and I joke now that it was Mrs Lighty’s very own D-Day!
I know for some, however, the idea of a due date and the disappointment that can come with it when this day comes and goes with no sign of baby can be quite the hormonal disappointment. Being 40 weeks pregnant is certainly an emotional time, so I can easily understand how a mum can feel like this. I really felt for one of my NCT friends, whose baby was due just a few days after Baby Lighty, when her due date came and went, and went again, and went some more… Every day we waited for news – as I’m sure she was doing too – and still nothing until she was two weeks overdue, when Baby Lighty’s little friend was ready to make his appearance. She has since told us that her husband once found her crying because one of our other friends in the group had had her baby boy before her, even though she was due after her. We can laugh about it now, but I felt so sorry for her at the time. It’s an emotional toughie when you’ve been working towards a certain date for 9 months and then it passes without fanfare. Being 42 weeks pregnant is hard work, especially when you’re on maternity leave, all set for baby to arrive and yet baby has other ideas.
With this in mind, I wonder whether it’s wise for expectant parents to give a ‘due month’, as Charlene at Note to Self:Employed Mum suggests in her due date post, so that people aren’t constantly bombarding you with questions as to whether the baby’s here or not yet? I started consciously taking my time in replying to messages as Baby Lighty’s due date approached, as I felt that if I was always replying to friends and relatives immediately, and then one day I took a bit longer in replying, people might start speculating that I was in labour, which I didn’t want them to do. Mr and Mrs Lighty also took the decision to change our Facebook pages to have to accept tags (the feature is also very useful for filtering any dodgy photos from wild nights out – if wild nights out still exist after parenthood!!), meaning that if anyone posted either asking for news, or worse still, announcing your baby’s arrival, you’ve got to accept it first before it appears on your profile. It’s not ideal, as mutual friends will still be able to see the post on their newsfeed, but it’s a little something you can take control of at a time when you don’t have control of much else!
Having said all of this, although we didn’t really feel the due date pressure, we did feel the pressure to announce Baby Lighty’s arrival straight away, as we didn’t want to be pipped to the post and have it splashed all over Facebook before we told people ourselves. We sent messages to our close family and friends as soon as Baby Lighty was born, and then felt that we needed to announce his arrival to the world (a.k.a. Facebook) the next day before someone else did it for us. In a lot of ways I’m glad we did tell people before people could tell on us, but I’m also sad that in this day and age there seems to be a need to do this. The first few weeks of Baby Lighty’s life were difficult on us, adjusting to parenthood, getting in the swing of a completely new way of life, getting to grips with – and ultimately failing at – breastfeeding, and generally keeping this brand new little person alive, and I would’ve liked a week or so of just the three of us, no visitors, no messages to reply to, just learning to be a family.
At the end of the day, your baby’s due date is something that you’ll have no control over. We tried for Baby Lighty for 18 months, and were about to start fertility treatment when I fell pregnant. Each month I would estimate when the baby would be due if I fell pregnant that month, and for 22 cycles I was disappointed. Baby Lighty came along in his own time in the end, and although many people would say that I was ‘lucky’ to only go four days overdue, in my mind, I wanted him to decide when he was ready to come out, provided there were no medical complications. I say let’s embrace the due date; or if you really don’t want to, put measures in place from the very start of your pregnancy which will mean that you won’t have to deal with those annoying “when are you due?” and “any signs yet?” questions.
Oh and if it all gets too much? Just answer Great Auntie Maude’s annoying “is the baby here yet?” text with “Oh yes, I’ve had the baby, I must’ve forgotten to tell you!”
That should do the trick nicely!
With many thanks to the very lovely Mrs Wighty who kindly let me retell her due date story above. No friendships were harmed (I hope!) in the making of this blog!!
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