This week (one month before my due date) the midwife told me that the baby would be “fine” if she were born now. “But there’s still a lot more brain development for her to do,” I pointed out.
“She would be fine,” the midwife repeated. I decided to drop the issue.
Here’s the length of pregnancy (40 weeks being standard) mapped against children’s IQ at age 6.5:
I appreciate that the midwife was trying to allay any fears I had, but it sure looks like there are variations on “fine.” This graph also makes me less sure about the “induction isn’t necessary, birth will happen when it’s meant to happen” rhetoric and more worried about a post-mature baby. (One danger with inducement being that if you’re wrong about your conception date, you end up with a premature baby instead of a post-mature one.)
I heard the same kind of thought process early in the pregnancy when I was going to a techno contra dance. I debated whether to draw on my skin with highlighter, like I usually do (the ink glows under the blacklights). I doubt highlighters are all that toxic, but I also doubt anyone has tested the effects of maternal skin absorption of fluorescent yellow ink on a fetus. “I’m sure it will be fine,” someone said. And she was right, in the sense that my baby wouldn’t come out with three heads or any other symptoms that would make us say, “It was the highlighter.” But little things can add up.
There is not some cutoff for when a baby (or a child, or an adult) is “fine.” We all have our glitches, and some glitches are bigger than others.
You can’t avoid all risk, and for the sake of your sanity you have to consider some things “good enough.” But your choices — like “Should I have labor induced?” or “Should we renovate our house, which is full of lead paint, while living with young children?” — really do have effects.