By: Catherine Larson|Published: September 14, 2009 2:51 PM
The Wonder of Life (Dappled Light)
The books say that my body is currently working at marathon-running levels even though I’m firmly seated.
I’m guessing that’s why I’m so exhausted. I certainly never trained for this. But as I sit here trying to find words luminous and weighty enough to describe such a veiled wonder, my body is busy.
At just about 22 days, a tiny heart jolted awake—began pumping blood different than my own. By week five, the poppy-seed sized marvel already had eyes, legs, and hands beginning to develop. A week later, scientists say that brain waves could be detected; meanwhile a mouth and fingernails were forming.
At just eight weeks my husband and I went for a peek at our little wonder. By that time, he or she could already move, and we could see the throbbing of a little heart on the ultrasound screen. The tiny fingers which we could not yet make out, apparently already had distinct fingerprints. Another couple of weeks passed and we got the chance to hear that little hummingbird’s heartbeat on a Doppler, beating at almost twice the rate of my own.
As I near the end of my first trimester, my baby has every major vital organ in place. If he’s a boy, he’s already producing testosterone. And if she’s a girl, her tiny ovaries already have formed the eggs which will enable her to one day be a mother herself. Meanwhile my little one can already make a tiny fist, suck a thumb, and frown. And while I’m still barely showing, he or she’s been growing up a storm—almost 3 inches now. (If a child continued to grow at this rate after birth, he’d be 13 feet by one month of age.)
I think one of my professors in seminary told me that we use the word miracle too loosely. It should be reserved for the water into wine, walking on water, parting the Red Sea kinds of occurrences.
So I’m not sure whether or not to call what I’m experiencing a miracle. On the one hand, Webster’s tells me that a miracle is divine, and I see divine fingerprints all over this. But it also tells me a miracle is something extremely unusual or outstanding, and the fact of the matter is this thing called life has been happening since the beginning of time, billions of times over. Is there such a thing as an everyday miracle? I’m not sure. But perhaps the very ordinariness of the occurring adds to its wonder.
I confess: I can’t stop reading about it. Through 3D and 4D ultrasound technology, we know so much more today about life than was possible to know even a generation or two ago. For instance, they know now that at around this age, my child is already exhibiting what they call a stepping reflex in the womb. He or she will put legs down in the motion of a step. The reflex will continue until just after birth and then disappear until the child begins walking again.
Back when these things were so much more abstract to me, I read that 89 percent of induced abortions are performed by 12 weeks or the end of the first trimester. Now I read those words and I think about the picture I’ve already sent to all my relatives, the whooshing beat of a heart my husband and I praised God to hear, the peach-sized prize that bounces, somersaults, and smiles in my belly, and the little life we pray for daily. And I shudder at that raw fact of what that statistic means.
I was meditating a while back on those beloved verses from Psalm 139:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
And it suddenly hit me with a tremendous weight of wonder how intimately God already knows this child.
While I have to sift through science books and will only have two short glimpses of this life via ultrasound during the duration of my pregnancy, there is no veil between God’s eyes and this child. He sees every movement. He understands what is already locked in that genetic code. He ordains all the days to come. It’s just another ordinary miracle in plain sight of the living God.
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