The Art of Scaring People: Due Date Edition

February 14, 2012 § 5 Comments

Yesterday was my due date. This is what one of my pregnancy apps greeted me with yesterday morning:

Melanie's due date comes...

And this is the greeting from this morning:

...and Melanie's due date goes.

Melanie was due to arrive yesterday, but she did not make her appearance. I have another prenatal appointment this afternoon to determine whether or not I’ve made any progress. I’m mentally preparing myself for bad news that I haven’t progressed at all–I was actually disappointed last week when my progress was zero. So today, I’m trying to spare myself that disappointment.

As many women already know (especially those who have gone through this process), due dates are fairly arbitrary guesses. They are often determined by counting the average number of days in an average gestational period, beginning with the date of the last menstrual cycle. The tricky part of that little equation is at least trifold: 1. not every woman is “average,” 2. not every woman ovulates at the same point in her cycle, and 3. conception (unless performed medically, as in an IVF procedure) is often nearly impossible to determine. Apparently only around 5% of women actually deliver on their due dates. Another way to determine the due date, aside from the calculated guess, is to use ultrasound further along in the pregnancy to determine the size of the baby, size of the womb, and amount of amniotic fluid available. The trouble with this method, although more reliable than the educated guess, is that not every baby develops at the same rate, not every woman’s womb grows at the same rate, and not every woman produces the same amount of amniotic fluid. Basically, we get a ballpark figure that in its essence says: “This is not a birthday promise. It’s a general heads-up so that you know when you should start getting yourself ready for a hospital stay.”

I spent my day yesterday wishing for my water to break. After lunch, I realized I was sitting around wasting my time. So I went to the grocery store. This time, I encountered an elderly cashier (one of my favorite cashiers at this store, as it turns out). She asked me, as people are wont to do when they see a 40-week pregnant woman waddling toward them, “When are you due?” I decided this was a great opportunity to freak out another person. So, I grinned and said as cheerfully as I could, “Today!” Her eyes bulged, her mouth gaped, and she took a faltering step back. “Today???” I laughed and nodded. Then, I leaned a little closer to her (since she had stepped back–did she expect my breaking water could splash her over the counter?), and I said softly, “I’m trying to walk around so I can induce labor. Keep your fingers crossed!” She stammered out a “good luck,” handed me my receipt, and turned to the woman behind me in line to compare their harrowing stories of the time the 40-week pregnant woman stood in line at the grocery store.

When you reach…and pass…your due date, what’s the point if you don’t mess with people?

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