Lots of people have asked when I’m due. For a normal pregnant woman, that’s a perfectly fair question (although certain follow up comments – such as “Really? Two more months? You look like you’re about to pop!” – may be quite inappropriate). For a woman carrying multiples, it’s a much more difficult question to answer.
If you don’t know, normally one’s due date is set at 40 weeks after the first day of one’s last period. In my case, that would be September 11 (yeah… I know). However, unless you’re a random stranger on the street with whom I’m politely trying to avoid a drawn-out, overly personal conversation, that isn’t really a good enough answer. Full term is considered to be 37 weeks; 90% of triplets are born prematurely, before reaching full term. Even when they do reach full term, often triplets will be induced between 37 and 38 weeks because there is typically little benefit of staying in the womb all the way to 40 weeks. So September 11 is pretty unrealistic for me.
A book suggested that instead of guessing at a due date, I create a calendar of “critical time zones.” Each one reached is a victory, and each time I pass one of these key dates, I set my sights on the next one. This is what my calendar looks like.
April 24 = 20 weeks. Though chance of miscarriage decreases with each week and drops significantly after 12 weeks, after 20 weeks a pregnancy loss is considered very unlikely and is no longer termed miscarriage. Babies that are delivered between 20-24 weeks have a low chance of survival, though it is possible (albeit with extremely high risks of brain damage or developmental delays).
May 22 = 24 weeks. The “limit of viability”; a baby born at 24 weeks has at least 50% chance of survival, though it will face a lot of challenges.
June 19 = 28 weeks. For deliveries after 28 weeks, odds of survival are near 95% and risks of complications begin to decrease, though babies still typically stay in the hospital for several weeks.
July 17 = 32 weeks. Babies born after 32 weeks are much less likely to have lasting effects of their premature birth. Depending on which sources you read, the average triplets are born between 32-33 weeks. That means that after July 17, every week – or really, every day! – longer that they stay put is a new milestone.
August 21 = 37 weeks, or full term.
Some scary stuff, I know. One good thing is that multiples do generally mature faster than singles in utero, probably because of the added environmental stresses. But of course, no matter what, the longer the better!
My optimistic answer to the “When are you due?” question? I’m hoping for little Leos: between 7/23 – 8/22.