Patterico's Pontifications


Happy Conception Day!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:03 am

Many people believe life begins at conception.

Yet we tend to celebrate birthdays and not a Conception Day.

So I’m curious: do you know anyone who celebrates a Conception Day? Who believes life begins at conception, and knows what day they (or their baby) was conceived — and holds a celebration on that day?

I started thinking about this again after reading Ruth Marcus’s column on Sarah Palin’s comments in which she (elliptically) suggested that she had considered aborting Trig Palin when she first found out about the pregnancy. Marcus argues that, by recognizing that she has a choice under the law, but denying that choice to others, Palin is “deliberately obtuse” and essentially hypocritical.

This argument doesn’t fly. Palin recognized that having this baby would be difficult, and she (very honestly) disclosed that she was tempted to do something she considered immoral and wrong. Christians recognize that people are tempted to commit all kinds of sins, and that often they yield to temptation. That doesn’t mean that it’s not sin, and when it involves the destruction of what they believe to be a human life, it makes sense for them to seek to pass legislation to protect that life. There is no contradiction there.

I think this is what Gov. Palin was talking about, and I admire her for being forthright about it. And I believe her thoughts are rooted in her belief that life begins at conception.

But if people believe life begins at conception, it seems to me that they should celebrate a Conception Day — and perhaps measure their ages according to that day.

What do you think?

60 Responses to “Happy Conception Day!”

  1. Any normal red blooded person has been angry enough to want to punch someone, at some point in their life.

    Every good person agrees that doing so should be illegal.

    This is not complicated stuff.

    Joco (4cdfb7)

  2. Interesting idea. But wouldn’t it require people talking and thinking about an event they’d be rather uncomfortable with?

    Commodore (3b38e7)

  3. echoing joco, that one can do something doesn’t make it right to do so.

    steve sturm (369bc6)

  4. The difficulty is in knowing precisely when the conception took place. That’s why the tradition of celebrating one’s birth day has more naturally taken hold.

    It’s interesting to point out that the angel Gabriel’s annunciation to Mary concerned her conception, however–not with regard to the exact day or anything, but he didn’t simply say that she would have a child, but that she would “conceive in her womb” a child.

    danebramage (700c93)

  5. I heard, but have no evidence, that Chinese do indeed consider conception a starting point in the aging process. Possibly an urban myth, so how’d it get out here in the sticks?

    John Hitchcock (fb941d)

  6. I do, informally. I know the exact date my daughter was conceived but our geneticist pushed it back one week in accordance with my wife’s menstrual cycle. And my wife’s water broke exactly nine calendar months, maybe to the hour, from the date the geneticist set, so I guess he knew something I did not.

    I also wear the same shirt I was wearing when she was born on special occasions.

    nk (0214d0)

  7. But wouldn’t it require people talking and thinking about an event they’d be rather uncomfortable with?

    Comment by Commodore — 4/20/2009 @ 7:11 am

    Uncomfortable? Man, just exactly how have you been doing it?

    nk (0214d0)

  8. In a bar once, just short of my 19th birthday (the drinking age at that time and place), I tired to convince the waitress carding me that I should get credit for time in the womb. She said no.

    As for celebrating conception day, it’s unusual for a person to be able to peg the precise day.

    And apart from the fact that Palin has not tried to deny anyone the right to an abortion, the notion that it is hypocrisy to even consider engaging in a perfectly legal act that one disagrees with is stupid. It’s not an arguement, it’s dishonest point scoring.

    tim maguire (4a98f0)

  9. I am told this is common practice in China, to count conception as the beginning of one’s life.

    Dr. K (eca563)

  10. As for celebrating conception day, it’s unusual for a person to be able to peg the precise day.

    Unless it probably falls on a particular holiday.

    Daryl Herbert (b65640)

  11. No, thanks. Old enough as it is.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  12. I suppose Marcus can show us from Gov. Palin’s record where she has denied this choice to anyone.

    JD (f8b50e)

  13. “But if people believe life begins at conception, it seems to me that they should celebrate a Conception Day.”

    There isn’t any “should” about it. Conception and birth are different things—I guess I could choose to celebrate my “conception day,” but there isn’t anything inconsistent about sticking with “birthday.” By doing so I’m not saying I don’t believe life begins at conception (I’m not saying my birthday is my “life” day), I’m simply celebrating the day I was born.

    tab (bee8c0)

  14. 1) I doubt she found out about Trig’s issues at conception. Just saying …

    2) If she had known at conception then maybe she would have done differently. You just don’t know.

    3) The fact that mid-term is she learned of his problems, and she still kept him, is still very very very admirable.

    4) Plus, maybe lots of people already knew about the pregnancy once she found out about his issues and she couldn’t just go v. her public appearance and abort a child. This would have shot her career to hell as well as have been a difficult emotional decision.

    Either way, I dig that chick. She has balls. I only hope she gets herself up the learning curve on policy crap so she can go emasculate a few media folks and dems.

    HeavenSent (637168)

  15. The problem is that conception day is difficult to determine. Sperm can live inside a woman for days, maybe even a week. And ovulation usually can’t be accurately determined.

    My daughter was conceived on my 10th anniversary get-away. Co-workers asked me which day, I said I had no idea, could have been any – oops, TMI. Never heard the end of that one. But as a matter of fact it could have been a week later.

    But that ambiguity didn’t stop some cultures that have been doing this for centuries:
    The Chinese believe that a baby’s birthday falls on the day he is conceived

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  16. But if people believe life begins at conception

    If a single celled bacteria is considered alive, why shouldn’t a single celled embyro be considered the same?

    Roy Mustang (9deca0)

  17. The willful inaccuracies about Palin continues, yet she’s been out of the election process for how many months at this point? They must still be scared out of their wits by her – something about being able to shoot game, do her job capably, and still bringing up a large family with a stable marriage.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  18. I think the reason most people don’t celebrate their own conception day is probably because that means, implicitly, they have to think about their parents having sex. Just a thought. 🙂

    And, in regards to Palin, I immediately saw her remarks regarding her brief consideration of abortion as exactly what they are, and exactly what you saw, Patterico: she was tempted to sin, and she, with God’s help, resisted the temptation.

    Chris (053743)

  19. I think the American preference for birth dates is largely because most people would rather not have to think about how and when they were conceived each year.

    jamie (ecc9d3)

  20. Well, wouldn’t a birthday require you to think about being shoved through your mother’s vagina each year? (I was a C-section, though, so I don’t have to think about that)

    According to Wikipedia, East Asian cultures do indeed traditionally count ages from time of conception, which is assumed, probably for convenience, to be a year before birth, though it’s been falling out of practice lately.

    jam (0b1fa1)

  21. I just checked with two of my Chinese clients. One had no idea. The other explained that the subject is not so clear cut. The Chinese calendar is lunar, so that birthdays can easily fall in different months, while infant mortality used to be so high that a later date would be chosen. Conception dates would be used by astrologers to predict the sex of the baby. In short, results of my mini survey were inconclusive.

    Barsinister (772473)

  22. Minus the action taking place inside the womb, my wife and I know the date of the action that caused the conception of our daughters. When we decided to try to have children, we were pretty scientific about the process.

    It seems that like the over the counter contraception devices we had been using for years, there are devices that can let you know more accurately if your wife is ovulating. Those were the times we tried. Given our busy schedule, and exhaustion, we were only able to try one day during the month our daughters were conceived.

    Wow, did that seem moderately inappropriate for public conversation.

    I should also point out that Catholics celebrate the conception of Mary.

    Many people think that the immaculate conception refers to Christ, this would be in error.

    Christian (abaa8f)

  23. We think we know the date of conception for our older daughter, but part of that is also wishful thinking, since it’d be Christmas Day! 🙂 For the younger daughter, sorry, but we don’t know. While I suppose that would save money — sorry, but no cake, ’cause we aren’t sure of the day — I’m guessing that it just wouldn’t work out.

    Of course, while some people don’t know when conception occurred, there are others who don’t even know with whom conception occurred.

    The math genius Dana (3e4784)

  24. there are others who don’t even know with whom conception occurred.

    Truly. And another point would be that not a few dates of conception have resulted from dates of deception.

    allan (9a0362)

  25. I wouldn’t want to spoil anyone’s fun, but it’s impossible to know your date of conception, unless you have been conceived in a petri dish. Sperm penetration of a viable ova usually takes place many hours or days after the event that made conception…possible.

    Fertilization is itself a process as well. It is not done the moment sperm meets egg, and it takes time for the genetic information of gametes to spool out and combine in a viable way ( and never guaranteed, even if they should meet).

    SarahW (fdd722)

  26. In Canada, we determine our conception date by subtracting nine months from our birthday, then rounding off to the nearest date without a hockey game. Works every time.

    ras (20bd5b)

  27. Seriously, is this even an argument. We hav an administration who’s head has often said the
    ‘pregnancy is a burden’, who HHS secretary is a pawn of the butcher George Till, who wants to force the Catholic Church to perform abortion, who has included denial of medical care, as part
    of his health care program. So this pedantic sophism of Ruth Marcus, is what makes for analysis. Not any real issue of the culture of death and retreat and empoverishment that she has spoken out on, yes she had a pang of doubt, before
    deciding on the right choice, a choice that earned
    her no end of hatred, disparagement, and slander, by all the ‘right people’

    narciso (4e0dda)

  28. #16, This was a very long conversation a few months back.

    Define Life using objective criteria that is measurable and then work backwards to an answer of whether a fertilized egg is life.

    That’s about all IMHO.

    HeavenSent (637168)

  29. This is a quirky, funny question.

    There’s no reason why people ought not celebrate conceptions, if they can determine when they happened (inevitably in hindsight). But it’s comparatively hard in most cases to determine conception dates. And the deliberate activities of the mother and father on that date may or may not have been focused explicitly and deliberately on creating a new life, but rather on expressing their passion for one another (with the chance that it could produce a third). I’m not knocking conception — I’m a big fan of the circumstances! — but it’s usually not the kind of event around which are clustered unique and specific memories tied specifically to a particular baby (in the way that such memories are associated with childbirth).

    Even if one believes that meaningful human life — the completion of the living genetic puzzle that’s unique to each individual — begins at conception (there being no dispute that both sperm and egg were previously living tissues), there are good and sufficient reasons to celebrate birth, too. Birth marks a passage from darkness into light, into a world of air and unmuffled sounds and action and space. It marks a change from an intensely private relationship shared almost exclusively between the mother and unborn child into a communal relationship that may more actively include the father, other family members, and the community. The act of childbirth is traumatic for both mother and child, and its successful completion certainly worth remembering and celebrating.

    Today is my wedding anniversary. As it happens, I’m divorced, but my ex and I still wished each other a happy anniversary. We also still have fond memories of, for example, our first date — and less fond memories of the sort all divorced couples have. None of that, however, is inconsistent with our wanting to acknowledge the historical and emotional importance of our wedding, in very large measure because it led directly to four conceptions and births whose anniversaries we also still celebrate.

    Beldar (5cbfc1)

  30. Your spam filters suck, Patterico. They’ve got one of mine caught up again for no apparent reason.

    Beldar (5cbfc1)

  31. We all know our date of birth but as to the date of our conception, the best that can be done is to make an “educated guess” while realizing that the selected date can be days plus or minus of the actual conception date. It is somewhat simular to the paternity problem before DNA. As the ancient Irish used to say ” The mother is a certainty but the father is only an opinion.

    Longwalker (4e0dda)

  32. Just had a long conversation with my wife who was born in Korea and now my brain hurts, but here is the summary of how they reckon age (according to her):

    1. Today, they use the same calendar we do and age is calculated the same as us.
    2. Previously (although some still follow this through tradition, it’s not considered “official” anymore), a baby was considered a one-year-old when born. Their next “birthday” was New Year’s Day. So, a baby born on December 31st was called a two-year-old the next day. Everyone born during a year was the same age for that entire year, no matter if the anniversary of their birth had passed or not.
    3. I just found out that my brother-in-law, who I have always believed was a week younger than me, is actually a month older. This is because they used the Chinese calendar date when he was born and never converted it to Gregorian for his official records. This is a common occurrence and causes much of the confusion. They use the Chinese calendar for many of their holidays and occasionally for personal events. Then, they apply that date to the Gregorian calendar as if they were the same, but they’re not.
    4. Any or all of this is suspect because it’s very confusing even for those who use it (which my wife was careful to say several times), and our conversation was half-Korean/half-English and carries a large risk of misunderstanding anyway.
    5. There is also a traditional “100 days” party for babies after they are born. This is to celebrate their survival and was carried over from when infant mortality rates were very high, especially during the first three months. My wife insists that 100 days after birth being approximately 1 year after conception is pure coincidence.

    Stashiu3 (460dc1)

  33. My Irish-American Catholic mother-in-law always says that if there was anything at all to Astrology, they would have to work the dates from conception because 9 months later the child is way to well developed to be affected by the stars gravity, or whatever.
    I agree with the Commodore, I don’t think I would want to discuss “Conception Day” with my children, or them with me.

    tyree (158c98)

  34. tyree wrote:

    I don’t think I would want to discuss “Conception Day” with my children, or them with me.

    Well, the kids know what must’ve occurred, but they don’t really want to think that their parents actually did that. We have been told that the whole idea is ick.

    The daddy Dana (3e4784)

  35. Stashiu – In our home, 100 days and 1 years are huge events for Better Half’s family, for the reasons you described above.

    JD (c6b1ac)

  36. Parents celebrate many memorable moments before birth, including the day they get the positive pregnancy test, the first sonogram and the first kick. And it’s not uncommon for families to keep scrapbooks of each pregnancy as a way to memorialize the conception/pre-birth process.

    Anon (b0f193)

  37. I do, indeed, know some people who celebrate their conception day. Yes, they believe that human life begins at conception …. it sure as hell is alive and it sure isn’t anything but human, no matter how we try to obfuscate that fact with double speak.

    quasimodo (edc74e)

  38. quasimodo – They are still waiting for a fertilized egg to turn into a Komodo Dragon, no? 😉

    JD (c6b1ac)

  39. I do know my daughter’s conception date — May 8. It was Mother’s day. My husband and I talk about it every year on Mother’s day because of all we went through with IVF.

    My daughter’s birthday is very close to the conception day, but we’ve never considered a separate celebration. (And before you spend too much time pondering how that works, she was “on ice” for three months.)

    I do often tell people that her blastocyst picture (five days after conception) is her “first picture.” We keep it on the fridge next to one of her five days after she was born.

    kel (74946b)

  40. quasimodo – hell of a difference between alive and human, and “human being”. Reasonable people may disagree, but it is not double-speak, to argue that there is no “person” if there is no present capacity for conscious thought, as opposed to a being that has not developed the capacity for thought or has lost all capacity for thought permanently.

    SarahW (fdd722)

  41. SarahW

    I think the “Conscience Thought” Criteria provides a much higher burden of proof than I am comfortable with as a Pro-Life. It is a popular criteria however.

    I find many 20 year-olds who would barely pass that test let alone a fetus.

    Better to look at simple biological “milestones” IMHO.

    HeavenSent (637168)

  42. The Feast of The Annuciation is celebrated on March 25th as one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church along with the Nativity of Christ on of course December 25th.

    LD (8638b5)

  43. We do celebrate conception day. It’s called “sex”. And we celebrate it a lot. Just saying. :p

    PatriotRider (d1603c)

  44. Unless [the conception] probably falls on a particular holiday.

    Comment by Daryl Herbert

    Agreed. I was born on September 25, and I’ll leave it at that.

    Mitch (890cbf)

  45. I think a lot of people who currently end up on the Maury Povich show would have some issues with celebrating their Conception Day, given that they can’t even peg the donor, let alone the timeframe.

    What? My wife watches it. She’s got a thing for the living train wrecks that populate trash TV.

    PCachu (e072b7)

  46. I wouldn’t want to spoil anyone’s fun…

    You know, things like that could get one sent to the other end of the gene pool to swim all by themselves.

    I knew about the Gregorian calendar problems. Now in the Ozarks where I was born, similar problems came about from using the traditional Georgian Circular calendar. Which is likely why the old folks mistakenly pronounced it as guess-tation since they just figgered you was conceived ’round ’bout nine months or so before bein’ birthed. Wasn’t all that confusing really. At least not like finding out that a minstrel show had nothing to do with…never mind.

    allan (9a0362)

  47. I think this is what Gov. Palin was talking about, and I admire her for being forthright about it. Odd. If Palin was forthright, there would be no need to ‘think over’ or muse over an interpretation of what she meant. It would be clear.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  48. I don’t think Palin’s was being deliberately obtuse and hypocritical but instead think that Marcus manipulated the narrative to fit her own system of belief or need.

    At first I assumed she was just disingenuous and intellectually dishonest but now I wonder if it’s just beyond Ms. Marcus’s ability to understand that because Palin honestly faced her fears and doubts and arduously plowed through them that she was able to find her own resolve. And because she was able to stand firmly in what she knew was right, it gave her the strength to put the needs of another before her own as well as getting those fears under submission. Only a fool would think this was an easy decision, and that fear wasn’t a mountain. This is essentially what all good mothers do. And the beauty of quiet nobility is simply lost on so many.

    Dana (d08a3a)

  49. Today we honor America’s Conception Day, as well.'_Day

    fat tony (685b18)

  50. Today we celebrate America’s Conception Day.

    (filter ate my link, so I leave it to the reader to guess what I am talking about.)

    fat tony (685b18)

  51. I know the date of my middle daughter’s conception. Her mother (now ex-wife but still friends) and I still smile about it. It was a yacht club ski weekend and we happened to rent a house at Big Bear that was owned by the Jackson Five family. So not only do I know when my daughter was conceived but it was in Michael Jackson’s bed.

    I won’t explain why I know, as a commenter at Washington Monthly known as “exlibris” thinks even my mustache is limp. It wasn’t always, honey.

    In fact,..

    Oh forget it.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  52. “We” do forty days and it’s because mother mortalities were even higher.

    nk (3e53ec)

  53. Since the Catholic Church holds that life begins at conception, it’s worth noting that the two conceptions most important in Catholic Church teaching are both commemorated in the liturgical calendar. Christmas is nine months after the feast of the Annunciation, Mar. 25, and the feast of the Nativity of Mary is Sep. 8, nine months after Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

    (Contrary to common misconception, “Immaculate Conception” does not pertain to Jesus being conceived by Mary, but rather to Mary being conceived by her mother, Anne. In fact, the feast on Dec. 8 is known by two different names within the Catholic Church. “Immaculate Conception” is the name used by the Roman/Latin Rite, while the much smaller Byzantine Rite refers to it as the “Conception of Anne”.)

    Jerome Parrot (8210d9)

  54. Mike K, are you saying you are responsible for bringing the first woman ever into Michael Jackson’s bed?

    LYT (cf1265)

  55. The first thing in my daughter’s scrap book is a brochure from that hotel. There is no question as to what started my daughter’s life.

    There is a continuity to life that begins at conception. Barring some catastrophe, conception starts an unbroken process of growth and maturity. We now know that a stork does not drop a baby from the sky at birth.

    That sound that we heard in the delivery room was my child’s heartbeat. That image on the ultrasound photo taken at nine weeks is my daughter. That feeling of nausea my wife had shortly after we got home was a sign that we went away without the kids but we ended up bringing a new one home.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  56. Reply to #34

    Although we had five children, my daughter once told us she figured we only “did it” four times, because of the twins.

    tyree (158c98)

  57. I had a friend (since died of ALS) who had five daughters. When his oldest was 13, her mother took her aside for a talk on womanhood. The daughter was obviously cogitating on this all day and then, at the dinner table, piped up and asked her mother, “You mean you did that five times !”

    One of my many regrets is the fact that, when my wife had an ultrasound when my daughter was about five months along, my radiologist friend asked me if I wanted the videotape. She was an amazing little person, very active and spinning around in her mother’s amniotic fluid but I said, “Oh no, that’s OK.” I kick myself whenever I think of it. Her first movie and I didn’t keep it.

    Arrgh !

    Yes, that might have been a first for Michael Jackson’s bed. Of course, it could have been Janet’s.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  58. We have the daughter’s ultrasound from 10 1/2 weeks. I remember showing it to my father (he was born in 1928) and he was horrified.

    nk (3e53ec)

  59. So what do you say to me now Patterico?

    I can explode the world’s attention in one day to my pick for President. Rick Perry.

    All the traffic you get and what can you do?

    Get your friend to call me obnoxious.

    Get with the program.

    I was here before you were. You either let your ego get in the way or you get with the program.

    Jeff Barea (753a51)

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