Quickening: Human In Utero
When you looked like this picture, your mother was beginning her second trimester of
Your gender was determined in the instant that your life began, but it took a couple of months for your gender to “show”. An ultrasound could have revealed your sex to your parents as early as 12 weeks. Interestingly, gender dependent developmental differences begin to show at 14 weeks in utero – with girls moving their jaws more frequently than boys. No kidding!
Diapers in the womb? No, but… although your umbilical cord carried away most of the waste products from your developing body, you also had your first bowel movements at this age! From about 12 to 18 weeks, the material expelled from your body was the same as what was expelled from your body as a newborn – meconium, a mixture of digestive enzymes, proteins, and dead cells. Life is beautiful – and messy, too!
Still maturing in your external appearances, your tiny little face was gaining fat deposits at this stage, starting to give you those adorable, chubby baby cheeks. And you were making facial expressions similar to your parents’ – at just eight inches tall! With your bronchial tree and cerebellum formed, you began to gain more and more weight, producing tooth enamel, many hormones, and stem cells in your bone marrow. Except for the top of your head and your back, your whole body was sensitive to even light touch.
You had been moving since you were only six weeks old – flipping, kicking, dancing – but, because of the thickness of the uterine wall, your mother hadn’t felt you. By the end of the fourth month of your life, however, you were finally able to kick hard enough to cause your mother to feel something. This first sensation of movement has often been called “quickening.” It was a time at which some ancients believed that the being within the womb became human – obviously, they didn’t have the scientific technology and tools that we have today! With increased knowledge comes the understanding that we are human beings from the beginning of our unique lives – that we are human beings from conception, no matter what.
Sensitive and responsive to stimulus from a very young age, at 16 weeks you reacted to stimuli, like needles and painful procedures, with the stress hormone that adults have. Yes, little and hidden as you were at this age, you intensely felt and strongly reacted to pain. “But here I am miserable and in pain; let your saving help protect me, God…”. (Psalm 69:30)
© 2016 Christina Chase
from a post on my parish’s website: http://www.CatholicSuncook.org
The Endowment for Human Development: https://www.ehd.org/science_main.php?level=i
Web M.D. http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/
Image from: http://www.archbalt.org/family-life/respect-life/spiritual-adoption/upload/Bulletin-announ-w-baby-images.pdf
Christina Chase View All
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.
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