Let's Hear It For the Due Date

Is it weird that I remember all of my kids’ original due dates? No? How about that I remember my kids’ original due dates but I can’t remember the name of any prescription drug I’ve ever heard of?

Last Thursday was my due date for my daughter. Nineteen years ago, that day was followed by 10 days of false labor, false water breaking (also known as “spontaneous pants-wetting”), lots of small overnight bags being packed and unpacked, and lots of babysitters arranged for and cancelled.

You’re supposed to walk when you get Braxton Hicks contractions. If they go away after 15 minutes of walking, it’s false labor. If they get worse, you better hope you’ve walked in a tight circle around your house, because you’re in labor and you don’t want to be a 15-minute walk from your means to get to the hospital, especially if the walk home is in heavier labor.

In those 10 days from my due date until she was born, I did a lot of walking with my daughter. Lots of circles around my house (because I’m not a risk-taker). And while I walked, I talked to her in there.

“What are you doing?” I’d hiss. “Come out! It’s fun here. There are soft toys and Honey Nut Cheerios.”

My husband and I had already determined that having a girl was going to be a bitch. Not just because she kept faking being ready to be born. She was the queen of shenanigans even as a fetus. She owned intrauterine hijinks. She was the gangster of the womb. I think her initials are carved into the lining of my uterus. There were signs of street gang graffiti in the placenta.

You could say she was an active baby. She kicked and punched until I felt like I had been in a boxing match, but as Madison Square Gardens, which housed the boxing ring. She kept turning, causing me a lot of stress, worrying about where the umbilical cord was. Now I realize she had turned the cord into one of her weapons.

So, when I was told that my due date was Feb. 2, I counted down the hours and hoped that at 12:01 a.m. on Groundhog Day 1993 I would get her out of my body and into a car seat as quickly as possible.

But Feb. 2 came and went. A small part of me was glad she wasn’t born on Groundhog Day. I had tired of the jokes about her popping her head out, not seeing her shadow and going back in. Not funny. Not funny at all.

I think the reason the due date sticks in a mom’s memory is that we spend nearly nine months with our eye on that date. The anticipated birth is larger and more dramatic than any real birth on any real date.
She finally was born on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (without a beard, thank you very much to all who suggested that might be the case). I swear that her stubbornness almost had her born in March, where there were no holidays or annual events to be badly associated with. 

But on Feb. 12, I started getting contractions and decided this was it; called my husband, packed yet another bag and went to the hospital. (My mom was already at my house to babysit little Abe’s big brothers; she had been on her way to my house during one of the false alarms, wrecked her car and so was stuck without a means of escape transportation.) 

I was checked in and after the contractions started to fade away, a sympathetic nurse told me, “Start moving. We’re getting this baby born today.” So I walked in circles in the maternity wing of the hospital for a few hours - threw in a few jumping jacks, too -  until mid-afternoon, when our little princess was born. She had biceps and knuckle tattoos.

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