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It all began at the beginning

Editorial by Bobby Tingle

 

A daughter celebrated her thirty-third birthday yesterday. She was born nine days before Christmas, 1983, on a cold, wet, cloudy and gloomy day. Her father witnessed her birth, recording the only known image of the moment in his memory. It is there today and is likely to never fade. She was simply beautiful.

Her life began very simply. Her mother contributed twenty-three chromosomes, as did her father. The forty-six chromosomes united to form the twenty-three pairs necessary for human life.

This was her beginning and what unfolded in only 280 days was quite remarkable.

At four weeks her heart, digestive system, backbone and spinal cord began to develop. She was now 10,000 times larger than she was at conception. The placenta, her link to her mother, who will share oxygen and nutrients with her daughter, was developing. She was approximately one-fourth inch long.

In her fifth week, her hands and arms began to develop and she had a primitive vertebrae. She was in her period of most rapid growth and development. Had she continued to develop at that rate for nine months she would have weighed 1.5 tons at birth.

In her seventh week, her heart was beating, at a rate twice as fast as her mother’s. In seven weeks she progressed from conception to a beating heart.

Her circulatory system was primitive and bypassed her lungs. Her blood circulated through her body and her umbilical cord. Her blood was replenished with oxygen in the placenta provided by her mother’s lungs. Yet, her blood never mixed with her mother’s.

In her eighth week, her nose, fingers and retina were developing. Her continual movement at this time contributed to the development of her muscular and skeletal systems. Her mother did not feel her movement; she was only a little more than an inch long.

At the end of her twelfth week of life, just a little less than three months, she was amazingly advanced. Her arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet and toes were fully developed. She was close to three inches long and weighed nearly one ounce. Her nails and earlobes were forming. Her eyes and most of her organs and tissue were developed.

In her fourth month. she was able to suck her thumb and swallow. Her tooth buds were forming along with sweat glands on her palms and soles. Her gender was identifiable but she likely would not have been able to survive a premature birth.

Her mother may have felt her moving in her fifth month. She was eight to ten inches long and as heavy as one pound.

A month later, she had doubled her weight and increased several inches in length. She could have been opening and closing her eyes and may have had her first bout of hiccups.

At the end of seven months, she had taste buds, was developing fat layers and was entering a rapid period of development.

In her last two months, her internal organs were maturing and her brain was growing rapidly. By the end of the ninth month, she was fully developed.

Her complexity at birth was amazing.

If laid end to end the blood vessels in the human body would stretch 60,000 miles and circle the earth twice. Her cardiovascular system at birth was fully developed and functional. The same was true for her other systems necessary for life.

Technology used to discover the scientific reality of human life has advanced in her thirty-three years. The more we learn, the more we marvel. The complexity and precision of the development of a child that commences at conception is incomprehensible.

Bobby Tingle is publisher of The Orange Leader. You can reach him at bobby.tingle@orangeleader.com.