Mum’s story – going over your due date

As Clara Hugh’s due date for her second child comes and goes without incident, she ponders how best to cope with sitting it out – and all those well-meaning enquiries

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Life with a toddler has made lie-ins a distant memory. If my son even manages to sleep in his own bed, the latest he’ll rise is about 7am, at which point he charges into our room. On a bad day, he’s there at 5am, sticking his finger up my nose shrieking “Wake up Mummy!”

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Perks of the bump

Luckily, neither my husband nor I work 9 to 5, so we have the luxury of taking it on turns to amuse our son at ungodly hours. And one great things about being heavily pregnant is that I get first dibs on the lie-ins. Which is why, after a 6am wake-up call that saw my husband take my son to the swings before the postman was even considering his round, I was lying in bed when the phone rang at 8.04am. At that unsociable hour, there was only one person it could be.

“Hello Mum,” I mumbled as I picked up the receiver.

“How did you know it was me?” she asked, before adding chirpily, “So no baby yet then?”

“Not that I’ve noticed.”

“He’s taking his time isn’t he?”

“He’s not due for 3 days.”

“You must be really bored of waiting, though?”

“Erm, no actually. Just tired.”

“OK, well keep me posted. And you really should get to bed earlier,” she added, hanging up.

“When’s it due?” is probably the question mums-to-be answer most often. During the heady 9 months of pregnancy, dates of birthdays, anniversaries and any other special occasions quite often blur into obscurity, but our due date always stays sharp in focus.

Magic moment

As it approaches, D-day grows in significance. It’s the day that sees our lives change forever. Just like long-gone Christmas Eves spent waiting for the arrival of Father Christmas, the concept is magical and slightly ethereal. But, unfortunately, it’s quite often a bit of a disappointment.

I remember going into town on my first child’s due date. It was a freezing February afternoon and having eaten a whole pineapple after learning of it’s magical labour-inducing properties, I hopped on the number 12 bus and headed for Soho, where I ate a hot curry, went to the cinema, and then shopping – only to get the bus home without experiencing the initial twinges that often mark the beginning of labour. I was still waiting for them a week later. And as it turned out, it was a full 10 days after the mythical due date that the whole thing actually kicked off.

Unless you’ve planned a caesarean, you may as well forget your due date the minute you hear it. “Women often get their due dates wrong anyway,” shrugged my midwife, who has another woman on her books who is 3 weeks and a day over her due date. “It isn’t that accurate a lot of the time.” And in France they’re a lot more laissez-faire about the whole thing, earmarking a two-week period when the baby might arrive.

Call centres

One of the worst things about the waiting is dealing with the disappointment of friends and family on hearing that your baby hasn’t arrived yet. Fielding the calls that often come daily on the run up to D-day can take up so much energy that, should labour actually ensue, you’d just roll over and say “Not now thanks – I need a rest.”

And when the due date arrives and passes without incident, as it does in so many pregnancies, things get even worse.

“Haven’t you popped yet?” asked my neighbour the other day when I decided to try the ‘long walk’ option to bring on my late labour.

Beneath a smile I muttered to myself, “Yes, I just decided to go for a walk with a turkey shoved up my t-shirt.”

When I expressed concerns at being a week late to my midwife, she just reassured me that “babies come when they’re ready.” She added that I should “just try to relax and let it happen.”

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As D-day approaches, perhaps the best thing to do is send out a ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ message to friends and family. Then it’s just a matter of switching off mobiles, turning on answer phones, putting your feet up and making the most of your last few baby-free days.

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