As some of you may know, my younger sister is pregnant – one month to go! The following conversation happened earlier this week.
Mom: Younger Sister let me know today the babes is head down just waiting to come.
Me: yep she told us the fetus is doing well
Mom: Yes very well
Lol Rory [what my mom calls me] the fetus, seriously? Please do not refer to this to YS please?
Older Sister: It is a fetus?
Mom: Okay I will call that when you 2 are pregnant, see how you feel about calling it a fetus then.
Me: Science says it's a fetus
Mom: lol So when you are pregnant I can say how is you fetus?
OS: Yes, that is totally acceptable!
Me: As long as science is calling it that, sure
OS: You can use zygote too, if it's early on
Or embryo. It is what it is
I'll probably call it a fetus myself actually
Mom: LOL I would like to invite you to "Older Sister Fetus Shower"
Me: I might call mine a barnacle since it has to live off a host
OS: I would be totally cool with that
Mom: You asses!
OS: Hahaha barnacle is great! We can call it Barney
Me: Zebra mussel if it's a girl
OS: Lol that's perf
Mom: Okay wise assess, I was going to treat you to free tickets [ to an OHL game] and free booze but not now. You are on your own
Obviously people who are pregnant and want their fetus to turn into a child think differently of the cells occupying their womb. I'm personally at odds with the concept pregnancy at the moment, but completely understand the bond that often happens between parent and pre-born child (it's tough to keep this gender neutral – men can have babies too!). I'm surprised at how much I've come to see my sister's unborn child as an actual potential human, especially now that he's viable on his own.
That said, scientifically and according to Canadian law, it is not a baby - yet. I was actually reminded of the above conversation as I read Tracy's piece on using the correct names for body parts with young children. There's a similar thing that happens here: it's not actually a baby. It has the potential to be a baby and after a certain point, it can live on its own before delivery. No doubt the parent is growing an attachment to it. But it is a fetus. Fetus isn't a dirty word us lefties use to undermine parenthood. But lord knows a lot can happen between conception and birth and reminding oneself that this is a scientific endeavour that we've have a long time to learn about is helpful. Science brings hope and clarity! Whatever problem you have, we have an answer!
But not for this.
Clearly I'm a non-parent. And I'm not looking to slag people who want to feel the depths of the bond that can happen between parent and unborn child. But refusing to talk about a physiological process in scientific terms is damaging. The idea that I could offend my sister by calling her fetus by its textbook name pains me.