Tuesday, October 7, 2008

In Due Time

"How wonderful!"
"You look great!"
"When are you due?"

It's that last question that bugs me. Let me clarify. It's when people don't accept my answer to that last question that bugs me.

When someone asks me when I am due, my standard reply is "this winter, likely around the New Year." The reply is generally, "oh, do you have an actual date?"

Yes. Yes I do. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my chart at the OB's office, calculated by a combination of a magic wheel with a pharmaceutical logo on it and a dating ultrasound done in June, there is a Date. A specific Date by which, it seems, everyone must live or die. A date that was plucked out of the air by the use of my self-reported last menstrual period date (LMP for short, and highly dubious, as I hardly paid attention to my cycles during April and May of last year -- finals, you know), plugged into the magic wheel, and presto! The Date.

The Date was confirmed (roughly) by the ultrasound, which measured the Bean against what I must imagine are actuarial tables and normative values, plugged into the scanner's hard drive by some code monkey at GE Medical Systems. Measure here, plot there, compare to chart, presto! You are X weeks along, and your Date is Y.

However, in my usual manner, I am being recalcitrant and stubbornly refuse to acknowledge said date. Why? Because I had a number of dates with the Girl, none of which coincided with her actual birthday. All of which were fairly inaccurate. And that got me thinking.

For hundreds of years, woman has expected her child based on nature cycles, moon cycles, old wives' tales, and a general communal knowledge. Women could look at other women, and just know. Before doctors, midwives would anticipate gestational age by "quickening" and maternal feelings, as well as outward signals -- a change in skin condition, hair color, and the obvious swell of abdomen. Perhaps a prairie woman would say she was due "after harvest." A Native woman might count lunar cycles and say "around the time of the Wolf Moon."

In other words, the baby will come when the baby comes.

Of course, I balance this outlook with one of modern practicality: had we continued to wait upon the girl to decide to be born, there could have been massive ramifications for both of us. In my mind though, the flexible attitude regarding the Bean's birth actually bodes well in that aspect. I'm more apt not to cling to a particular date, and I'm also more aware of what my body does when it grows babies. If I go a couple weeks early, or if I wait it out a little while, it's all good.

This little Bean knows when she's supposed to be born, and she'll let me know. It'll be around the turn of the new year.

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