Wednesday, November 28, 2007

One Week Until Due Date

Our due date is one week from today. For at least a week now, we’ve been living in the very unique and interesting situation of complete uncertainty. We took refuge in the statistics that 85% of first-time deliveries are late. Surely, we’d be in that 85%. So we mentally oriented towards December 5th or later as the arrival date of our new infant.

However, a scare last week, during which we thought it was coming, juggled the psychological bits. Now we know it could be any day. It could be today or it could be almost three weeks from today.

This means that if there is something we want to accomplish – we must do it now because we don’t know if there will be any time tomorrow. It’s pushing Jim to work hard at work to get his major deadlines out of the way ahead of time. And while I have less responsibility at the moment, I’m also trying to make progress on some of my larger goals. I try to make sure that nobody is waiting for anything major from me because at any moment I could become incommunicado.

It means that all social arrangements are made on an as-available basis. Sure, I’d be glad to have lunch next week, but only if something unexpected doesn’t happen first. Let’s be sure to confirm the day before.

While I still get out for a daily stroll, and still make it to the gym for a light workout almost daily, I’m getting to the point where I don’t want to venture much more than an hour from home. I had thought about meeting a friend in New York City this weekend, but am now rethinking it. Do I really want to face a three-hour trip back should the moment unexpectedly arrive?

As someone who usually plans ahead, this helps me to live more in the moment, to be more accepting of my inability to control things, which I suppose is just the beginning of parenthood. But this situation also helps me to understand people who choose elective c-sections. Many of the books I’ve been reading criticize this birth by convenience. I tend to think that nature will usually make sure the baby comes when it’s ready. But it actually is quite difficult for a woman and a partner to essentially put their lives on hold for up to month. I’m lucky in that I’m able to work from home. Others, especially those with physical jobs or long commutes, probably need to take leaves. But with the stingy leave policies available in the U.S., 3-4 weeks leave before a birth (while this is standard in many parts of the world) means an even shorter period of time is available after the birth. I can see how people would rather set the birth date and conserve all of their leave time to spend with the baby.

Of course, choosing elective surgery because our leave policies force such choices is not a good sign of the priority placed on women’s health. I would hope that, like in Germany and in many other countries, 4-6 weeks before the birth and 8-10 weeks after the birth would be a normal and standard leave. I would hope that the opportunity to work at home before the birth would be made available to more women. But until then, I can see how people are tempted to end the expectation and the uncertainty and just get it over with.

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