The Waiting Game

WaitingforTimePeggy and I were talking the other day about how we need a new way to describe when a baby is due.

Due “date” is something of a misnomer, since a healthy baby can safely be born two weeks (or more) before that date or two weeks (or more) afterwards. Some women gestate longer than others and often labor is unnecessarily induced by artificial means that lead to a cascade of iatrogenic problems.

What should we call it? Due season? Due time? Due month? One blogger suggests calling it a “due window.”

It’s easy to be mistaken about the date of conception. According to Ina May Gaskin and other birth experts, modern ultrasounds have proved notoriously unreliable in measuring a fetus’s size or estimating a due date.

My friend Kay had a healthy, uneventful pregnancy until her doctor ordered a C-section because the baby was two weeks “late.” Her son weighed less than seven pounds and had a host of preemie health problems after he was cut out of her uterus. He was born too soon.

The same thing happened to my friend Nora, a doctor, who had a scheduled C-section with her second born. She was sure of the date of conception but that didn’t mean her baby was ready according to the doctor’s schedule (he was going on vacation and wanted to do the surgery before he left). Nora’s sons lungs were underdeveloped and he had to be medically evacuated to a larger hospital, spending over two weeks in the NICU.

For some women a baby isn’t full term until it has cooked for 42 weeks (or more). I recently read a first-person account that a woman can gestate anywhere from 36 – 47 weeks and give birth naturally and safely to a healthy baby.

Christine sends an email from Japan, where she lives with her family. “I am eight days late,” she writes, “and I’m absolutely miserable.”

I know how she feels. My “due date” came and went without a hiccup from Pineapple. The waiting game is hard and I’m trying not to let it drive me crazy but the truth is I’m beginning to despair.

“Just keep making plans,” my friend Jenny, who had two of her four at 42 weeks, suggests. “The baby will come when it comes.”

I keep trying to convince myself the baby will come when it’s ready. Then another voice in my head gives a sinister chuckle and says, “NO IT WON’T. YOU ARE GOING TO BE PREGNANT FOREVER.”ComingSoon?


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on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009 at 4:28 am and is filed under pregnancy, rejecting modern medicine.
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7 thoughts on “The Waiting Game”

  1. It’s amazing how medical folks, despite having seen the bell curve of when babies tend to come, still treat the due date as a significant day, like the expiration day on milk. If it doesn’t come very soon after, they want to intervene with the natural course of gestation. Rushing things can only lead to longer, more difficult labor. If women’s bodies didn’t do what they need to, they wouldn’t pass on their genes–it’s instant natural selection for childbirth working out on its own. As long as you don’t have the arrogance to mess with it…

  2. I like to think of it as the Divine Order of every living thing on this planet. One split second sooner or later than when its meant to release into the cosmos would be just plain untimely. And, chaotic. The very word induce means to persuade. How unnatural to reason a child into the world. Hang in there. Baby will be there in a few turns of the moon. Or, as my wise-for-her-years seven year old granddaughter once said of her own being “late”… she peeked out and saw what she was in for and went back in.

  3. How true. We can’t predict what was (perhaps) already written in the stars. Mine had to be induced 3 weeks early due to my medical condition. I was thrilled to be done with pregnancy early.

  4. My 2 kids were both born at the end of week 42. I am thankful my Dr. was in no rush, and her calm attitude kept me calm. She WAS planning to induce if I went beyond that time frame, but luckily both kids cooperated and I went into labor naturally. Now I’m just wondering if #3 will behave the same way or will decide to surprise us.

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