I have a feeling this is going to be another one of those slightly controversial and uncomfortable posts about how women's bodies become public property when they become pregnant. Bear with me.
Let's talk about due dates. The most common question any pregnant woman gets is "What's your due date?" or "When are you due?" It makes sense: everyone is super excited about the arrival of a new life, and wants to plan around when the baby is expected.
I've noticed that for myself, and for my other mamas in the pregnancy-after-loss camp, that this question is a little uncomfortable.
- First, if you've lost a previous pregnancy to early labor/preterm birth, etc., your due date feels loaded. You know your baby could come early, so that date feels like a precarious star from which to hitch your wagon.
- Further, if the baby does come early, you don't really want to have to answer questions about it after the fact. If your due date is not widely disseminated, you don't have the opinions of other people about whether or not that's too soon or too late, which is a godsend when you're worried about so much else.
- There's this kind of weird pressure to make it to your due date. "Keep that baby inside as long as you can!" I feel like well-meaning people keep telling me this, and I want to ask them exactly how I'm supposed to do this if baby is intent on coming? I can't just keep my knees together until then.
- No one really wants all of the "IS THE BABY HERE YET?!" questions right around the due date. No, it's not. We'll let you know, believe me.
- A mother also might want to curtail this information because she may not want certain people (usually parents or relatives) to visit right after the baby is born. It's a sensitive and vulnerable time. You may not want a lot of folks at the hospital or at your home when you're trying to bond and get to know your new baby.
- Maybe she doesn't want her due date flying around social media because of all the reasons listed above. Social media just intensifies the scrutiny around the pregnant woman and the due date, and makes it even easier for everyone to give advice, comments, and feedback about where the woman is in her pregnancy.
- It's another thing someone might just want to keep private.
So what is anyone to do?
This isn't really an indictment of anyone who wants to know the due date. I think it's an appropriate and fair thing to want to know, and the last thing I'd want to do is squash anyone's excitement about the baby's arrival.
It's more a plea for a little extra sensitivity around why someone might *not* tell you their due date. It's such a natural question that I don't anyone has been led to think about why it might be a place of vulnerability for some people, so I'm shedding some light.
Personally, I just say "late February/early March", which is specific enough that the person has an idea, but isn't fixated on the date itself. That's the compromise that's working for me these days.