It really dawned on me yesterday, perhaps for the first time ever, that Nov. 10 isn't exactly set in stone. I mean, sure, doctors can approximate a baby's gestation with almost 100 percent accuracy these days, but, to be honest, it really doesn't mean crap.
For the past eight months, I've been viewing Nov. 10 as a magic number of sorts. A goal. A final destination. The finish line.
But due dates aren't like wedding dates. You can look forward to your child's expected birthday all you want, but that doesn't mean it'll happen. In fact, the likelihood is about 10 percent. Maybe less.
And yet, here I am, counting down. Literally. There are 23 days until Nov. 10. Twenty-three long and arduous days of hefting this baby around and attempting to be patient. Despite horrible sleep. Killer heartburn. Cramping and fake contractions. And clothes that are so restricting that I feel like Houdini every time I manage to writhe out of them.
The toughest part is knowing she is now considered full-term. If she was a Thanksgiving turkey, her little plastic timers would've popped already.
But it doesn't matter. Biology has its own time clock. And if she's anything like her mother, she'll choose to come fashionably late.
So last night when my boss mentioned making the November schedule, I felt more than a flutter of excitement. NOVEMBER! If I was Cinderella, songbirds would've burst through the windows right at that moment and started coiling ribbons and bows around my head.
"I'm assuming you'll want most of the month off?" she asked.
The thing is, I want to work right up until I have this baby. I get 12 weeks off for maternity leave, and I'm hoping to spend every single one of those days with my daughter. Sure, I could start my leave now, but that's less time on the other end.
So I tried to think about when my time off might actually start. And I remembered that pregnant women are given a two-week window before and after their due date to help them gauge when the baby might arrive.
That's great and all, but, um, I've been concentrating on the two weeks BEFORE. Mostly because the two weeks after seem completely unbearable at this point. I'd rather stick my hand in an industrial-sized paper shredder.
But just out of curiosity and because my boss had asked what my plans are, I flipped over my desk calendar to November and took a look. Two weeks later takes me until AFTER Thanksgiving. November 24 to be exact. (Suddenly the turkey-timer analogy didn't seem quite so amusing anymore.)
That's 37 days from now. WAY more than the already agonizingly long 23 days I have somewhat mentally prepared for.
By then I don't think I'll be able to stand upright or form complete sentences. Clothes will be a thing of the past. I'll have to staple bedsheets together around my mound of flesh and hope that Jerry understands my grunts enough to get me a glass of water and a sheet pizza. You know, for a pre-lunch snack.
So, in hopes of not being disappointed when my Nov. 10 due date comes and goes without any fanfare or even so much as a false alarm, I am now concentrating on my overdue date: Nov. 24.
And if she's not out by then?
She will very likely be an only child.