When I was pregnant with my first child I went twelve days past my due date. Twelve days. An occurrence which I was wholly unprepared for.
Once I hit the third trimester, it felt like people were telling me left and right that there was no way I’d make it to my due date. Although sometimes it came across as an insult to how big I was getting, I chose to instead be grateful that I would get to be done with this pregnancy thing a little early. Giving birth at 38 weeks is like the gestation equivalent of your mom checking you out of school an hour early. I would be all healed up and cuddling my new baby before my “expiration date” even came.
But then my due date came and went.
I remember feeling like I had prepared for a big vacation, packed my bags, taken time off work, then shown up at the airport to find the flight had been canceled. But I was supposed to sit around and wait, because it might take off any minute. Whatever else happened, that baby was supposed to be here by his due date.
All day long I received texts saying, “No signs of labor yet?” “I’m hoping you aren’t responding because you’re in labor!”
But I wasn’t in labor. I was in my bed, wearing a T-shirt that no longer covered my entire belly, and bawling my eyes out while watching Parenthood because one of the character’s pregnancies only lasted one episode.
I was going to be pregnant forever.
Of course, I was asked all the time what a lot of you are probably thinking. “Why aren’t you being induced?” But I had done a lot of research and decided I wanted to avoid it if possible. I wanted to trust my body and my baby to go into labor on their own. I just didn’t know I would need so much patience.
I remember looking out in our backyard one day and seeing how overgrown the grass was. Suddenly I could think of nothing else besides getting that grass mowed. I imagined myself as some sort of pregnancy super hero mowing the lawn at 41+ weeks. That is, until I had to ask my husband to tie my shoes for me. It doesn’t take a psychologist to realize I was just trying to control anything I could. I realized I had hit a whole new level of insanity when I walked through a swarm of bees and instead of being scared, I thought, “I wonder if bee stings can induce labor?”
I’m here with hope for my fellow overdue mamas. My son was born eventually. All 9 lbs 6 oz of him, after 28 hours of painful back labor. He was completely worth the wait.
So when I became pregnant with my second two years later, I knew better than to believe anyone telling me that I wouldn’t go past my due date this time. I told myself over and over to plan on 42 weeks. It’s just what my body does. I was totally zen.
Except I wasn’t. Because, secretly, I didn’t believe it. I thought that I would probably go past my due date, but there is no way I would go twelve days past my due date again. That just wouldn’t even be fair. I had paid my pregnancy dues.
So naturally, my second baby was born thirteen days overdue.
Did I handle it like a champ this time? No, I did not. I cried, complained, and hated more actresses on TV for their fake baby bumps being born early. I stopped texting people back. I cried to the few people I knew who went as far overdue as I do. And I got a lot of remarks and eye rolls about why I would be trying so hard to avoid induction. People had such a hard time understanding it, and rather than trying to understand or sympathize, they made me feel worse.
But I also learned to own my own birth stories. They were both difficult, painful, amazing, and two of the absolute best days of my life. The pain and the waiting happened to me. They were my stories to tell. Decisions I made for myself, not for anyone else.
Choosing not to be induced didn’t mean I can judge others who choose to be induced. The most important thing isn’t that we all do things exactly the same. The important thing is that we respect and support each other through what is a draining, tough, and incredible part of life.
QUESTION: Has there been anything about your pregnancies or births that others have questioned, doubted, or told you should have gone differently?
CHALLENGE: Look back at your birth experiences and if there is anything that you previously felt “went wrong,” or didn’t go according to your plan, can you change your perspective and own it as your story? Or, as an alternative, just go bring your pregnant friend a cookie. She’ll appreciate it.
Edited by Sharon Brown and Nollie Haws.
Image provided by the author.