Due date memories five years on

Thursday 24 November 2011 was a huge day in our lives. It was the day our first child was due. Since seeing his tiny arms, head and feet on that dark, grainy scan, it was a day that we had many hopes pinned on. 

I had been informed by midwives, family, my pregnancy yoga teacher and countless articles that only a minority of babies arrive on their due dates. But as a keen planner, I had clung on to that shred of hope that he would arrive as expected. Armed with the information that 37 weeks was full term, I’d started my maternity leave four weeks before my due date to wait for baby Pyke to arrive.

In reality, he arrived 15 excruciatingly long days later after a two-day labour that was nothing like my carefully-crafted birth plan. So I thought I’d look back on my due date – and subsequent overdue days – and the lessons I learned.

1. Babies arrive when they want to. This enormously frustrating piece of advice is not what you want to hear when you’re two weeks overdue, the size of a hippo and enduring the hell that is being induced, but it’s true. I ate curries, drank shed loads of raspberry leaf tea and bounced on my birthing ball like there was no tomorrow but they didn’t work for me. I remember waddling around Ogmore-by-sea while heavily pregnant willing it to kick things off all to no avail. 

2. Have you had the baby yet? woes. When you have been pregnant for longer than you felt humanly possible, and the pregnant mums you know who were due after you are already cradling their babies, there is nothing that makes you want to lose it like the have you had the baby yet? messages. I had so many well-meaning texts, calls and Facebook messages that kept tipping me into hormonal overdrive. If I had had the baby, you’d have heard about it most definitely. In my rule book, there should be a mandate not to ask this question unless you want to be responsible for making a heavily pregnant woman cry (or angry). Not sure which is worse. Alternatively, anyone thinking about asking the question can be directed to this insightful website.

3. Innocent due date questions became insufferable I tried to do things and go out to distract myself from the frustration of being overdue. So when the checkout operator at our local supermarket asked when I was due, I had to answer “10 days ago” through very gritted teeth. Sigh.

4. Have you tried?…  Yes, I most definitely have tried the old wives tales to start my labour. They may have worked for Emma and your cousin Jennifer, but they most definitely did not work for me.

5. Nesting is a thing I had been cynical about this, but I found myself kneading bread and baking cakes like never before as I tried to make those long days pass. I ended up making a loaf a day.

Five years on, I can see that 15 days is nothing in the grand scheme of things. But at the time, each day seemed to last an age. I didn’t know anyone who had gone that far over before so it added to my nerves and fears about becoming a mum for the first time.

Of course, when he did arrive, he was worth every single second of that wait. Our lives changed forever as we held him for the first time, watched him take in the world and felt his perfect fingers curl around ours.

What do you remember about your due date? I’d love to know.