In May 2016 when I discovered I was pregnant one of the first things I did was log onto the internet and visit the NHS website to work out my due date on their pregnancy due date checker. It pinged back instantly with the date the 26th January 2017. This date firmly stuck in my mind and was something I became quite fixated on.

My due date was January. Photography credit: Kara Eads
My due date was January. Photography credit: Kara Eads

All focus was on the due date

The 26th of January 2017 was the date I was working towards for everything! It was the date I needed to have my baby’s room ready by, a wardrobe of clothes, nappies, changing mat, changing bag, car seat, baby sleeping basket, pram etc. all bought and safely stored away. The plan was to wait and start making the purchases with about 2 months to go.

For some bizarre unknown reason I packed my hospital bag at 29 weeks. I had been signed off sick and it gave me something to do one afternoon. I was struggling to move about so it really was a task that took me all afternoon to complete. I’ve no idea what gave me the urge to do this but I was determined it was going to be done that day.

I was nervous about birth and I was regularly reminded that the day was approaching with the favourite question that everyone asks which is “when are you due, what date?” Then that person tells you that their great aunt Mavis’s birthday is that day so they will remember it! Only 4% of babies are born on their actual due date so the chances are they will be a few days earlier or later than the due date.

Woman holding her pregnancy bump. Photography credit: Vivienne Guy
Woman holding her pregnancy bump. Photography credit: Vivienne Guy

I didn’t mind answering the due date question

I never minded the question when I was pregnant. My baby however is one of the 10% that is born prematurely which is being born before 37 weeks gestation of a pregnancy. When I was whisked off for an emergency c-section one of my many thoughts on that mid November day was “but it’s not the 26th January yet, it’s not even 2017 yet!” Suddenly that date held a lot of weight!

My little boy in his incubator
My little boy in his incubator

Some hypnobirthing practitioners and doulas teach providing a birth month and encourage not revealing a specific date as this can take off the pressure when the date approaches as very few people will know it. The Royal family also takes this approach although I suspect this is also to add an element of privacy for the expectant royal. I have to admit I do like this approach!

On the other hand the due date holds a lot of hope for parents of a premature baby’s parents though. It becomes a milestone. It’s the date their baby should have entered the world. You will find that some parents do something to mark their preemies due date  and so like the queen has two birthdays a preemie is special enough to have two birthdays too!

My son’s due date was now a new milestone

I was excited when my son’s due date arrived as we look set to be coming home soon (we were discharged 5 days later). Also his weight had just entered the 7lb mark. He was starting to manage larger feeds and was losing his premature baby look. 

Being pregnant is not easy for some expectant mums so if you are given a due month when you ask when their baby is due to make their appearance then don’t push for a date. If they want to tell you they will! A due month might be their way to cope, make birth a less scary occasion and take a little pressure off from sticking to such a rigidly tight deadline.