emotional vs rational

So much for me and NaBloPoMo. I wound up prioritizing sleep (hard to come by in third trimester, when you have a 4 year old running about) and work, and never quite finished any of the posts I had planned (lots of drafts, though, so I hope to finish those up in the coming weeks, now that I am off of work.)

Yes, I am off of work, been off since 12/18. Due date was 12/22. EVERYONE reassured me that second babies come early; after all, their own second babies came early, it must be true. This really rankled the scientist in me… your sample size of 1 proves that all second babies come early?

I tried to find some literature on second gestations, and found basically nothing. Not a surprise, I think medicine figured out a long time ago that predicting the EXACT day of birth is a useless exercise. I did find one blogger who, frustrated as I was, began collecting survey results on gestation length. The stats show that, excluding induced births, first time mothers had their babies on average at 39 weeks 5 days, and second time mothers had their babies on average at 39 weeks 6 days.

At a party full of my son’s classmates’ mothers, I tried to point this out, starting my rebuttal with “some statistics I saw…” I was roundly laughed at; “isn’t she cute, statistics!” I dropped the subject, but was surprised by that response. These weren’t uneducated women; the group included at least 2 doctors, a high level program manager at a major Silicon Valley tech company, and others of that type. No science deniers here; why would they brush off the math?

I guess, especially when it comes to our babies, even the most scientific of us are affected by anecdotal evidence. I was recently pointed towards this article, in which the author (a professor of epidemiology and pediatrics) says

“I’ve been increasingly impressed with the power of stories over statistics. So I’ve decided to branch out from my usual publication format and tell a few stories of my own.”

So even the epidemiologists feel the pull of anecdotal evidence over numbers.

Anyways, I stuck to my guns to the very end. J was 5 days late, so no way would #2 come early. I (and my OB) figured she’d be late, for sure.


Turns out I should have paid more attention to the statistics. Z arrived at the exact average, 39 weeks and 6 days. 1 day early, on the winter solstice/apocalypse day. I was both wrong and right, I suppose.

Looking at her now, snoozing in my lap, I have to admit, a part of my brain thinks that it’s no wonder we defer to anecdotal evidence when it comes to our babies. She’s perfect, doesn’t the whole world work as she does? So much for being rational.

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2 Responses to emotional vs rational

  1. OMG, SO CUTE!!! Congratulations!!

  2. amyrobynne says:

    So adorable!

    That survey website was fascinating! It’s definitely interesting to see how anecdotal evidence and statistics don’t match at all with births.

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