One night in my twenties, I drove home after what may have been too much to drink. I’m mostly a lightweight, so “too much” for me might be three beers. In any case, I’m not proud of it today. The point though, is that despite this unsafe activity, I and those around me, were fine.
Now imagine I took this example of reckless behavior and used it to justify drinking and driving? Imagine I said that because I did it and I was fine, then of course it must be okay for others to try. This is called survivor’s bias. It’s a logical fallacy, and it’s unfortunately rampant in the world. Because while I was fine, many people aren’t, and that shouldn’t be ignored.
Ten years ago I started a new job and found out one of my co-workers had lost his fiancé to a drunk driver. I immediately thought back to the night I had chosen to drink and then drive. What if I had hit someone? What if not I, but someone else had died? These actions can have consequences.
And this is what I think about when I hear, “Well I did it and I survived.” The implied follow-on statement is, “so it can’t be that bad.” But it really can.
My son died, and one of the reasons for his death is that I chose to allow my pregnancy to go past 39 weeks. Go overdue. He was active and kicking up until the night before he died, and I could have saved him if I had chosen to induce.
But today, instead of an active two-and-a-half-year-old child, I have an urn. And yet whenever I advocate for the benefits of induction and for expectant parents to be given the informed choice, I have always heard at least one comment: “Well I went overdue, and my baby was fine.”
Here’s why statements like that are not helpful: in the United States today, stillbirth happens in 1 out of 160 pregnancies. It’s uncommon, but still a definite possibility. And so for every 159 parents who state, “I did X and my child is fine,” there is going to be one whose experience ended differently. And 1 in 160 is a likelihood worthy of consideration.
Parenting is all about choice, and I don’t seek to take that choice away from you. But I do ask that you be cognizant of the effects and impacts of your words. Because your singular experience is neither proof nor justification that what didn’t harm you will not harm any other child.