We Are Both Right

Leaving the Birthday Selection to Baby (or Anyone But Me)


There will be no purposeful choosing of birthdays in Amanda's house. ©biewoef/stock.xchng

When I was pregnant, I planned for everything. Everything. With my first, my son C., I was working in a high-rise, 42 floors up, two trains and a decent car ride away from home. I was pretty convinced I was going to go into labor when I was anyplace but the comfort of my house, so I made sure I was ready in the form of a litany of items I carried in my briefcase: photocopied pages of instructions of what to do if you go into labor and you are by yourself or not near proper medical attention (read: stuck in an elevator); bottles of water; even clean towels.

Still, for all my fretting and worrying (needless of course, I was home on leave when my contractions started for reals), the element of surprise when it comes to baby’s arrival is one of my favorite parts of pregnancy (gender too).

I mean, labor can happen at any time. And once those launch codes have been initiated, that’s it. Get thee to a hospital, birthing center, your bathtub — whatever makes you happy. Doesn’t matter what you have going on — Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, big sale at Target, Shamrock Shakes at McDonald’s — baby is coming. It’s time to stop, drop and roll. (You can go back for the shake later, it’s usually around for a little while after St. Patrick’s Day.)

When we were expecting our third child, son S., my husband T. and I were in a bit of a panic. S. was due May 8. From about April 15 until about May 15 every member of our family had multiple things to do. Between the four of us, there were countless baseball, softball and lacrosse games and practices, doctor appointments, teacher conferences, T. was going away for work — it just didn’t stop.

There was one day — April 30 — where the calendar was free and clear. So while we wished and hoped that S. would grace us with his presence that day, even if I had been given the choice to have him be born then, I would have heartily refused. (In case you were wondering, he actually showed up on his due date, and yes, T. was away but got back in time.)

The thought of choosing my baby’s birthday — through a scheduled c-section or labor induction — gives me the shakes. Because to me, the day a baby joins the rest of us here on earth should not be chosen by a mere mortal. It’s not a religious issue though, rather, more of a spiritual one, in the sense that I believe the birthday should just be left up to natural forces. There are too many things that I don’t understand — astrological, metaphysical, extramundane — that are at play here. Who am I to go near them?

The reality is though, sometimes, for medical reasons, a doctor must intervene. And while in an emergency situation, the date is chosen for you, as long as everything is relatively OK, choosing the baby’s birthday is often left up to the parents in the form of scheduling a c-section or an induction.

To which I say, oh no way.

Now my babies have all come naturally. But to to protect myself from the far too awesome task of having to choose my baby’s birthday, in the event of a scheduled c-section or induction, I always had a plan in place where the baby’s birthday would still be left up to a power other than me or my husband. It requires the cooperation of many, and everything must go right in order for it to be carried out successfully until the end, but it’s doable.

I think.

It’s actually pretty simple (snort):

  1. Go for any pre-procedure testing before I have to pick a date.
  2. Designate a friend I trust who I’m close with, but don’t speak to every day  as my point person. It’s important that this person isn’t in contact with members of my family either. (In my head it’s always been my dear friend for more than 25 years who lives five states away, Tracy.) Unfriend her on Facebook.
  3. Make it clear to all the medical professionals involved in my care that I do not want to know when I’m coming in for the procedure. Change my contact number to Tracy’s number (in case they call to remind me of my forthcoming appointment).
  4. Have Tracy get the list of suitable dates from the doctor. Make sure all are included in the selection process. Even if I have 416,000 things to do on one of those days, it is still eligible.
  5. Have Tracy choose a date at random and notify the doctor’s office of what it is. I don’t care how she does it (pulls slips of paper out of a hat, throws darts at a calendar), as long as the process is completely arbitrary. No choosing a date on purpose. (This is why having a point person you trust implicitly is so important.) She is to tell no one except the doctor’s office what the date is.
  6. Avoid Tracy — no contact at all — until the big moment arrives and she calls — 12 hours before I’m due at the hospital. I’m officially in labor.

Easy peasy, right? What could possibly go wrong?

Would you choose your baby’s birthday? How would you do it?

Even though Suzanne chose her son’s birthday, I think his birth story totally makes my point.

The Best Day Ever: Choosing Baby’s Birthday

Photo by Hilde Vanstraelen / www.biewoef.be

Are you someone who stayed engaged for two years just to get married at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2000? Did you know you met your soul mate because when adding up the month and day of your birthdays, they each equaled 28? Is your puppy’s birthday the same as your mom’s — on purpose?

Nodding your head? Then I’m going to venture a guess that you would also plan the date of your baby’s birthday. Or even that you were busy on the 17th trying to conceive a baby with the best chance of being born on 11/11/11.

You can admit it. I won’t judge you. Because numbers intrigue me too — to the point where I kept the phone company rep waiting for a solid five minutes while I deliberated the merits of each combination of seven-digits she offered. (Bet there’s a note on my record never to offer up that choice again.)

So I understand if that’s where you are coming from. I mean it’s your baby’s BIRTH-day. There’s no two year contract that gets you out of that number. And maybe you’re trying to take control for a good reason — like not wanting your baby to be born on your ex’s birthday. Totally reasonable. Or maybe everyone in your family was born on the 13th. You wouldn’t want to break that lucky cycle, right?

There are plenty of reasons why someone might be compelled to handpick a baby’s birthday given the choice (and provided the date was somewhere within the appropriate timeframe to deliver a full-term baby). Aside from having a preference for the actual date, it might be more about the timing itself. Say your partner is being deployed in your 40th week and your c-section needs to be scheduled anyway. Why not pick a date that works for you both?

I didn’t have any good reasons to request a specific birthdate when I was due to deliver for the first time, but that didn’t stop me from swelling with excitement when my obstetrician said: “We’re looking at some time between the 14th and 17th to induce you, so are there any days in particular that would be better for you?”

All of sudden being induced (for valid medical reasons) didn’t seem so dreadful. We settled on the 15th (for no particular reason other than I had scheduled my maternity leave to begin on the 14th and could use a day to get things ready).

And so my son was born on the 15th. How boring you might say. How predictable, especially because our family and friends knew his gender, name, and birthdate — all before it happened.

Except that the date we picked had nothing to do with how he made his entrance into the world.

Because as all new parents learn rather quickly, you really aren’t in control of much of anything when you have a baby. My son didn’t arrive on the 15th because a doctor decided to induce me. He arrived one week early because he decided it was time to make the trip. On the 14th, exactly twelve hours before I was scheduled to be induced, I went into labor, ending with his arrival in the midnight hour on the 15th. (Coincidentally, my daughter beat her scheduled birthday by five days — she really wanted to show us who was boss!)

Still, I like their birthdays even though they didn’t go along with my expectations (or the doctor’s plans). But I would have liked the 14th or the 16th, or any other day, in any month, or year, for that matter.

Do you like the idea of selecting your child’s birthdate — or is it something better left to pure randomness?

Amanda doesn’t like to spoil a surprise, so not only won’t she find out her child’s gender during pregnancy, she absolutely will not have any part of picking a baby’s birthday. But there’s quite an elaborate plan in place in case that had to happen for some reason.