Is there a “best time of year” to have a baby?

I did my second pregnancy test at the weekend – still negative – and then started my period pretty much straight afterwards. So doing the test was a big fat waste of money, and on top of that I had to endure the misery of a second purple line still not appearing. It wasn’t the best start to my Sunday morning!

One of the reasons that I hoped I would get pregnant in the first couple of months of trying is that I always wanted a spring baby. To me, it seems like there must be a reason that everything gives birth in the spring – lambs, chicks, even plants. In nature it’s because the world is getting warmer and the weather is getting calmer, so small, vulnerable things are more likely to survive. Imagine if a little lamb was born in the depths of winter – it would be impossible for its mother to keep it warm and well fed. And vice versa, if it was born in the height of summer, it would be difficult for the mother to keep it cool and well hydrated. I have all the advantages of civilisation to help me care for a baby at any time of year, but I still like to do things the natural way where I can.

So now here we are in the middle of August. If I get pregnant this month my baby will be born at the end of May – that’s perfect. For family reasons it’s perfect too, as my Mum is a sixth form teacher and by May she’s pretty much finished for the term. She and I would both love it if she could take some time off to come and be with us and our baby in the early summer.

But if it takes another couple of months then we’re well into June and July. I just want it to happen for us this month, really desperately.

Part of it is selfish, I have to admit. Even though English summers are hardly renowned for their balmy sunshine, sometimes it gets really hot and humid, especially down here in the South-East. I hate being hot – I’m definitely a winter person – and I don’t want to stagger about, nine months pregnant, feeling miserable and sweaty in July or August. I’d much rather be heavily pregnant in the cool of spring.

But is there more to it than that? Is there a ‘best time of year’ to have a baby in terms of optimising education and development? Articles like this one in the Daily Telegraph make me stressed out – August is apparently the worst month to have a baby because the child will always be the youngest in the year, and will therefore lag behind his or her peers both intellectually and physically. There are even scary statistics about August babies being 4% less likely to go to University.

I try to rationalise this by telling myself that it does seem very subjective, depending on the child in question. My husband has pointed out that, as a September baby and the eldest in his year (and a total swot, it has to be said) he sometimes felt like he was held back by some of his classmates – maybe if he’d been young in the year instead he would have been more stretched and challenged.

Added to the issue of subjectivity is the fact that I’ve found lots of other articles which say entirely contradictory things: for example inThe Independent (“Babies born in winter are bigger, brighter and more successful“) and Metro (“Winter babies ‘face a sadder life’ as adults“). None of the research is very conclusive, and most makes only vague attempts to explain the findings in terms in terms of socio-economic factors or seasonal changes in diet and the mother’s mood.

When it comes down to it, I think that beggars can’t be choosers. I desperately want a baby, and if it happens this month that will be wonderful. But if I can have a healthy child, I don’t think I’ll care in which month he or she is born. Whichever one it is, it’ll be the best month for us.

Advertisements

My first proper pregnancy test – and it was negative.

For the last couple of weeks I have been watching entirely too much TV – I live near London and I’ve been totally absorbed by the Olympic Games. As a result I have been appallingly neglecting this blog, but I’m back up and running now!

I did my first real pregnancy test yesterday – and it was negative. Last month I started my period so I didn’t have to do one then. As I’ve mentioned, my periods can be very irregular so it’s pretty difficult to tell the best time to do a test – the packet says the test works from the first day of your missed period. If I had “normal” 28 day cycles my period should have started yesterday, but to be honest it could be anything up to six weeks.

Now I’m in a weird limbo state where I haven’t started my period, but the test was negative – I don’t know whether it was just too soon for the test, or whether my period is just being its normal unpredictable self. I really envy women who are regular, and for whom being two or three days late is exciting. For me it’s just tiresome – and also expensive because I’m inevitably going to waste lots of pregnancy tests. I’m going to wait a week before I do another one otherwise I’ll be bankrupt rather than pregnant!

The whole process of doing the test was very odd. Exciting, but also disconcerting. If you’ve never done one before, tests come in lots of varieties – there are cheap and cheerful ones, right up to amazingly complex digital ones. I have bought a bunch of the cheap ones, and one expensive digital one which I’m going to save until one of the cheap ones says I’m pregnant. Then I can use the expensive one to make sure! With the cheap ones, you have to wee on the end of a little stick – the part you have to get wet is ridiculously small! Then you leave it for three minutes – a little purple line appears to show that the test is working, and then if you’re pregnant a second purple line appears between three and fifteen minutes later.

The most reliable time to test is meant to be the first time you go to the loo in the morning, because then the concentration of the pregnancy hormone that the test detects – hCG – is higher. Inevitably I forgot first thing in the morning, but I couldn’t resist taking the test that day – I don’t want to find out I’m pregnant on a weekday morning and then have to go to work and pretend that everything’s normal! So I just went ahead and did the test – it wasn’t exactly a vary reliable attempt. Hence the weird limbo – I could still be pregnant. I just want an answer one way or another!

Waiting to see whether the little purple line would appear was bizarre. You have to keep the test still while it’s working, so my husband and I leant over the side of the sink where it was sitting and just watched it. I felt really excited at the possibilities, but also I didn’t feel like it was going to be positive – maybe my body knows that it isn’t pregnant. Or maybe I was just feeling pessimistic that day. Either way I am second guessing my every feeling, even though I know stressing about it is going to make conception less likely, not more.

After three minutes we went away, assuming it was negative – I checked again at 15 miniutes and then threw it away, but I had a final peek hours later while it was in the bin. I can’t help but wonder which test will be the one that brings the good news.

The worse thing is, if I haven’t started my period by then, I’ll have to go through the whole emotional palaver again in a week.