11 November 2011

due dates are jacked

When people ask the question "When are you due?", I struggle to give a specific answer. Sometimes I'll say a specific date (arbitrarily chosen among the several I've been given—it changes with every ultrasound), sometimes I will say "early to mid-April," sometimes I will say, "The second week of April." Take your pick.

Before I became pregnant, I had no idea how due dates were determined. Now that I (somewhat) understand the process, I lack confidence in them entirely. Medical practitioners estimate your due date based on the first day of your last menstrual period (LMP) and add 280 days/40 weeks. Normally I wouldn't have any idea about this date when asked, but taking birth control then Clomid actually started and regulated my period, and I had to keep track of when I was bleeding because I based taking Clomid on that. So as a result, I actually have a fairly good idea of the first day of my last menstrual period, but there are even more variables once you've figured that out. Your fertility window, or when conception can actually occur,  is (depending on the length of your cycle) about a 10-day range beginning around 2 weeks after you start bleeding.

Given its impreciseness, it makes sense that no one would really be able to determine the exact date of conception. Instead, they use the date of LMP + 2 weeks, which means you get an extra 2 weeks of being pregnant when you're not actually (go you!). Remembering I've actually been pregnant for approximately 2 weeks less than I tell people sometimes makes me feel like I have forever left to go . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pregnancy is longer than this ellipsis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The accepted method of due date (or as the ultrasound machine said, "estimated date of confinement," which is awful) determination gives a rather large window of error. Don't ask me how large of a window, because my math skills are poorly developed. But if my exact (estimated) due date (let's go with April 9 for now) comes and goes and Baby Rowan hasn't made an appearance, I'll try to remember that I need not be anxious because due dates are ±5 days anywho. Oh yeah, and let's not forget that the length of a "term" pregnancy varies ±2 weeks, too.

What I get out of all of this is simple: even if my pregnancy lasts a "normal" amount of time and I deliver "full-term" (which itself is highly unpredictable), I have NO IDEA when this baby is going to get here.

4 comments:

Margaret said...

Pretty sure you'll know when he gets here when you push that kid out of you.

Rachel said...

Due dates are the worst. They change at every appointment, and then they fly by with nary a contraction. Forrest was, depending on which due date you go with, anywhere from 1-2 weeks behind schedule. Just convince yourself you won't deliver until, say, May, and you'll be pleasantly surprised when he arrives "early!"

Tracie said...

Just say you're due in April or the spring to be even more vague. (EDD actually stands for estimated date of delivery, not estimated due date like so many commonly believe.) I wish due month would be come into parlance because it's a LOT more accurate. Term is 38 to 42 weeks. 40 weeks is the mean between this RANGE.

This is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves actually. "Due dates" are nothing more than an educated guess at best. (And pretty much only are reliable if you have a 28-day cycle and always ovulate on day 14...and even then there are genetic factors at play. Though ultrasounds can be pretty accurate IF they are done around 6-7 weeks and IF you don't have a family history of longer gestation.)

Morgan was born at 41w1d, to which I say he wasn't overdue, he was born exactly when he was done gestating. :)

I think you'll find these two blog posts pretty interesting:

http://www.drmomma.org/2009/06/lie-of-estimated-due-date-edd-why-your.html

http://wonderfullymadebelliesandbabies.blogspot.com/2008/09/all-about-inductions-do-due-dates-mean_29.html (this is a bit of a misleading title since it is more about about "due dates" in general than it is about induction)

And yes, Rachel gives great advice. Don't obsess about the date. It's virtually meaningless and all it causes is stress and anxiety you don't need, especially if you have people in your life prone to bugging you. ("Is he here yet? Is he here yet?")

Luke and Andrea said...

All I can say is, "Amen, sister!" Due dates are nothing but obnoxious. But how can you not think about them, wonder about them, obsess about them, and feel frustrated and depressed when they turn out not to be the day when your baby comes? You can't! But you should certainly try. :)

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