Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Subtle "Pro-Choice" Perspective

When I was pregnant with my kids (back in the Dark Ages, when kids were born without ultrasound pictures ahead of time) a pregnancy was 38 weeks. When I went to the doctor for prenatal visits, they told me that I was thus-and-so-far along ... and it was measured from the time of conception.

The stuff you find online about pregnancy today states that a pregnancy is 40 weeks. So now, instead of counting how far along Mommy is according to the conception of the child, we count how far along Mommy is from the date of her last period.

In other words, pregnancy is about what's happening to the mom's body, not what's happening with the baby's body.

Whenever somebody in the house asks me how far along Katie is now, I have the biggest booger of a time figuring it out ... because I don't count like the medical world today counts.


  1. Wow, Susan, that is so perceptive of you. Did you figure it out all by yourself?

    I started having kids a few years after you (not many, mind you!), but all I have ever heard was 40 weeks.

    Such a good example of how language is not only determined by thought but can also have an impact on it.

  2. Cheryl, I don't know what was standard elsewhere. I don't know why the doctors' and nurses' calculations always matched mine, if it was standard everywhere or if they "translated" for me because I was one of those stubborn women who wasn't having tests to find out if my baby was deserving of an abortion. Only a couple of my doctors have been particularly pro-life, although none (except Philip's) were pro-abortion.

    But this wasn't like any big "perceptive" thing from me. It was just confusion. How could Katie be thus-and-so-far along, and none of the websites were matching what I knew to be true??

    Finally I backed way way up on's "fetal development website" and found out that a woman is considered two weeks pregnant at conception. Well, how can that be?? That means you're one week pregnant prior to conception??? Why would that be... unless pregnancy is about the mom's body and not the baby's body?

    One website explained that it's very difficult to pinpoint conception, but we can know when the woman's last period was, so it's a more reliable guide for counting. But the only reason it's a reliable guide is because the last period was about two weeks prior to conception. If Mommy missed a period or two prior to pregnancy, or if Mommy had spotting that she mistook for a period when newly pregnant, then the period isn't going to tell you anything about how far along Mommy is. The ultrasounds and the tummy measurements and the weight gains are going to indicate that Mommy's last period does not tell us about Baby's conception-time. So Doctor recalculates the due-date. So it just seems dumb to me to base the beginning of pregnancy on the last period. But apparently it's the way things are.

    I guess I'm just going to have to get used to the idea that the end of the first trimester is now at 15 weeks instead of at 13. That does not jive with my math-brain because 15x3 is neither 40 nor 38.

  3. I just realized how my comment might sound. Let me clarify that I am not at all surprised that one of the most brilliant ladies I know would come up with that insight! Just terribly impressed!

  4. Just read your comment. You say it wasn't perceptiveness, just confusion, but I still say that to realize how the change shifts the emphasis from the baby's life to the women's body is quite brilliant.

  5. LOL. Okay, have it your way. I is brillyunt.

  6. According to the OB World, I am 36w3d pregnant. According to the general population, I'm 9 months pregnant. According to the very sweet man next to me at the softball game this morning, I'm "ready to pop".

    When people ask me how far along I am, I usually smile sweetly and say that I hope to have a fully cooked baby sometime in September, but that only God knows when she'll actually come out.

    fwiw, my due date is not based on a conception date OR my LMP, but on the average measurements of a 6 wk, 8 wk, and 10 wk ultrasounds - so based on the baby's development. We watched her heart start beating in the first one. Coolest thing I ever even hope to see.