Deep in your uterus your embryo is growing at a furious pace. At this point he's about the size of a sesame seed, and he looks more like a tiny tadpole than a human. He's now made up of three layers — the ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm — that will later form his organs and tissues. The cells are forming for his major organs, including his kidneys and liver, and his neural tube is beginning to develop. This neural tube — from which your baby's brain, spinal cord, nerves, and backbone will sprout — develops in the top layer, called the ectoderm. This layer will also give rise to his skin, hair, nails, mammary and sweat glands, and tooth enamel. His heart and circulatory system begin to form in the middle layer, or mesoderm. (This week, in fact, his tiny heart begins to divide into chambers and beat and pump blood.) The mesoderm will also form your baby's muscles, cartilage, bone, and subcutaneous (under skin) tissue. The third layer, or endoderm, will house his lungs, intestines, and rudimentary urinary system, as well as his thyroid, liver, and pancreas. In the meantime, the primitive placenta and umbilical cord, which deliver nourishment and oxygen to your baby, are already on the job.
2004.09.12. sister dear
I spent my last day with my little sister Jenny - she is returning to Panama tomorrow after staying almost a month. As I chatted with her about pregnant concerns and pointed out my (what I thought was) fast-growing belly, I suddenly realized how sad it is that she has never been around a pregnant sister or sister-in-law. Sure, she almost delivered a teenager who spent her pregnancy at the base - she's been through many pregnancies of people close to her. But not her family. As I saw the months stretched out ahead of me, of growing belly and kicking child and excitement over possible names, I was so sad that she wouldn't be here to go through it with me.
2004.09.13. drunk on pregnancy
Today I blogged about drinking during pregnancy, and the "expert" was reaching a little too far for my taste. He was claiming that any alcohol during pregnancy can damage the fetus, calling it "Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder" and linking it to attention deficit disorder and other behavior problems.
My problem with that is the causation just isn't there. I can only imagine that women who binge in the first trimester might have children with behaviorial problems - but that doesn't immediately say to me, oh, pregnant people, abstain completely.
If it's really small amounts of alcohol (by that I mean a drink or fewer per day) that are directly linked behavioral problems - well, maybe it's because the mothers also smoke. Or because they tend to get in arguments with the father, which damages the brain development of the infant. Or 1,001 other possibilities.
I just haven't yet found any medical evidence that small amounts of alcohol - by which I mean, half a glass of wine here, a pint of beer there, not daily but a couple of times each week - can damage a developing baby. I'm much more concerned with my emotional health and getting good things like fruits, green veggies, calcium, protein, fish oil, and the rest. So please don't hate this pregnant lady if you see her with a little glass of wine. I promise not to overdo it.
But it gets better. Today when I was driving to mama's group I, very suddenly, felt drunk. I wasn't able to focus on the traffic and cut off another car at a 4-way stop. I was giggly and overly talkative. My head was swimming. I was clumsy and rather stupid.
As I shoveled goat cheese, raita, sublime fig chutney, and my favorite pear garlic crostini into my expanding belly, I sobered up. By the end of the night I was performing a picture-perfect kitchener's stitch much to my knitting buddy's amazement. It seems to be a blood-sugar issue - I'm short-fused and unable to concentrate without proper nutrition. Watch out.
2004.09.14. blood sugar required
Ummm...have you seen a brain? 'cause I lost one somewhere.
It seems like only yesterday when I was looking forward to pregnancy. Ahh, the growing belly, the proud feeling of carrying a future little person. But somewhere I skipped the @#%#$% first trimester.
See, I'm not excellent at remembering to eat several times per day. Oh, I get hungry, and I eat like a horse when there's food in front of me, but I get caught up in what I'm doing and skip meals until I'm truly desparate. That just isn't cutting it with my body's NEEDS.
If I go 30 minutes past hunger my body and brain shut down. Tonight I was cooking dinner pre-neighborhood meeting. I walked into the bedroom, where Jonathan was folding clothes, because I couldn't focus enough to figure out if what I was wearing was appropriate. I changed my shirt five times. I gulped down the chicken curry and raita. But it wasn't enough.
Once I got to the meeting my vision was all fuzzy and I introduced myself completely out of order (umm...Ms. Gilbert...we're going in a circle, not a squiggle!). Luckily the green tea I nearly spilled all over myself on the way over calmed me somewhat and I managed to make it through the meeting without giggling at a non-funny joke or third-ing a motion, or anything.
I am constantly amazed at the strangeness your body endures during pregnancy. What is this, anyway, a whole human being growing inside of me or something?
2004.09.15. it all hurts
I've been wearing a sports bra. Nope, not running a whole lot. And I've never been what you'd call well-endowed. But my breasts feel like they're about to fall off my body. They haven't hurt like this since my milk came in.
Sometimes I just need to take a step back from the aches and pains, though, and remember what I'm doing here. My new favorite pregnancy book, Prenatal Parenting, calls them "fetal love breaks." In the midst of all the craziness, take a minute, and give your little baby-to-be a whole lot of loving feeling.
And I do love this little not-quite-a-speck-sized person. It's hard to get too attached, given my recent miscarriage. But I have a good feeling about this baby, and I hope God does, too. Let's send up a couple of prayers, ok? I need all the support I can get.
2004.09.17. nesting for everyone
All the pregnant mamas were here this morning, all groaning under their bellies, all rosy and sleepless. They are all due within a few months and I'm dying to knit something for all the babies. But what?
I want more than anything to knit something for my baby, but it seems too soon, with too many projects more vital. What would I do with the little sweater I made for Reagan if she, again, is lost? I couldn't give it away, not to anyone close to me. I couldn't finish it, or see it. I'd have to put it away, in a box, and be sad when it came out.
So I'm hoping to come up with something that will embrace the mamas in warmth and love without being tinged by my sadness and concern for my own babies. And knit for the life, and the hope, and the joy of those around me. As I knit flowers for little girls' heads and cozy sweaters for my own Scandinavian son, I will fill them with the love and the desire that is bursting within me.
2004.09.18. five weeks, four days, so many more to worry about
It's finally set in...the worrying. I'd probably be worrying even this wasn't so soon after the miscarriage. But I found out yesterday that a friend had her eighth (that's right, eighth) miscarriage confirmed. I felt so badly for her. I wrote her long missives of sympathy and wanted to do more, I could feel her pain so keenly, but so distantly - hers was of such huge magnitude, it was so gigantically unfair.
And strangely, I had been remembering my own. It was a brownie, from my favorite bakery - the one whose brownies I consumed daily in high school. I was sitting down to share some with Everett and Jonathan when I remembered. The last time I had eaten a Bower's brownie was the day of Destiny's shower, when I was miscarrying. It was one of the saddest days of my life.
I wanted to tell Jonathan, how worried I was, how sad it made me, but I just couldn't. I let it pass. And my ovaries are hurting, my uterus is hurting, and I am worrying. I am worrying because I could get an ultrasound in a little more than two weeks and the baby could be still, again. I'm worrying because any moment I could get a gush of blood. I'm worrying because I want this baby, so, so much.
And I can't even afford to go to the doctor right now, and am wondering how long I can stand to wait without knowing, knowing if the heart is beating, if the sac is implanted properly, if everything is going to be o.k.
Only six weeks, two days until the danger zone has passed. Only 44 times getting up in the morning and going to the bathroom, to see. Only 1,056 hours ticking by on the clock. Can I do it?
I'll do whatever it takes. I'll pray, I'll take my fish oil supplement, I'll eat a pound of spinach daily. I'll enlist whatever blessings are necessary. Pride is not an issue. I just want the baby.