Sensing the Great Big World: 7 Month Fetus

7 month fetusWhen your mother began her third trimester of pregnancy, you looked a lot like this
picture.  During your seventh month in utero, you began to use all five of your senses!

Sight:

Ultrasound reveals that babies at this age like to open their eyes and look around.  What were the first things that you saw?  In the dark safety of the womb, the first thing that your eyes were able to distinguish was light.  “… God said: Let there be light, and there was light.  God saw that the light was good.  God then separated the light from the darkness.” [1] You could see sunlight and artificial light as it penetrated through the uterine wall, and your pupils dilated and constricted in order to better see in your watery world.

Sound:

With your cochlea, the hearing organ of your inner ear, fully developed, you’d been able to hear a variety of sounds for quite a while.  At this particular age, you could even distinguish between different voices!  “…at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:44)

Smell:

At this age, important parts of your nose were fully operational, so that you had a fully functional sense of smell.  Scientific studies show that infants born prematurely, at just 26 weeks in the womb, can detect different odors.

Taste:

“Taste and see that the Lord is good…” (Psalms 34:9) Swallowing amniotic fluid, you tasted what your mother ate while she was in her third trimester of pregnancy, developing that affinity for the foods of home.  Do you like licorice and those black jellybeans?  Chances are that your mother ate something anise flavored while pregnant!  Food tastes travel fast from mom to baby – reaching your little taste buds in just 45 minutes!  Sweet tastes would make you swallow faster and bitter tastes would cause a less pleased reaction that even showed in the expression on your face!

Touch:

“With skin and flesh you clothed me, with bones and sinews knit me together.” (Job 10:11)  You had been sensitive and reactive to touch from a very early age, by just five weeks in utero.  As you grew, more and more of your body detected touch and pressure and you even felt pain.  By seven months in utero, your entire body was capable of feeling touch and the grasp of your hand was even stronger than it was right after you were born!

And you were on the move!  Through a series of walking like motions, you liked to do somersaults!  You received antibodies from your mother at this age, that would protect you from a wide variety of diseases.  Small as you were, had you been born at this time, it’s highly likely that you would have survived – a chance that increases with ever improving medical technology.  Your brain waves, at this stage of fetal development, were similar to those of a full-term newborn – and you could even cry.  Yet, shockingly, babies in utero are not, by governmental law, considered human beings at this point in life.  Abortion is still legal in the third trimester of pregnancy.

© 2016 Christina Chase

from original post on my parish’s website: CatholicSuncook.org


Sources:

The Endowment for Human Development:  https://www.ehd.org/dev_article_unit16.php

Web M.D. http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/your-pregnancy-week-by-week-weeks-26-30

Just Facts: http://www.justfacts.com/abortion.asp#Science

Photo Image: http://www.archbalt.org/family-life/respect-life/spiritual-adoption/upload/Bulletin-announ-w-baby-images.pdf

[1] Genesis 1:3

Human In Utero – No Matter What

Between the 8th and 12th week after your life began, you had your own unique set of fingerprints! Yet another way to identify you as YOU. Of course, God doesn’t need any physical markings to know who you are. As He says through his prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”

three-month-old human fetus

Your mother was only near the end of her first trimester of pregnancy when you looked like this picture. And you were less than five inches from the crown of your head to your heel. Small as you were, you bent your knees and elbows and wrists, moving your little muscles with increasing strength – yawning, stretching, squinting, turning your head, and moving your tongue. Your tiny face, hands, and feet were sensitive to touch. Any pressure on your feet would make your knees bend up, pulling your feet away from the stimulus. Your teensy, tiny hands were already capable of grasping.

Yet, despite your sensitivity and action, your mother couldn’t feel your movements. From her, through the umbilical cord, you received the oxygen that you needed while you breathed amniotic fluid in and out to exercise your lungs. As you sucked your thumb, the amniotic fluid that you swallowed was processed through your digestive system. Your incredibly itty-bitty fingers and toes were growing nails, and you touched your hand repeatedly to your face, where your little nose and lips were completely formed. Your facial appearance continued to change, as it continues to change through every stage of your entire lifecycle. At this tender and tiny age, in the fetus stage, you made complex facial expressions – and even smiled.

Given all of this, many might still have dismissed you as nothing but tissue, using the scientific term of fetus as a way of denying your humanity. But, you were you from the beginning. YOU – who are made to grow, developing and changing in both large and subtle ways, every day of your life for as long as you live.

And even if, through deformity or disease, your knees, elbows, or wrists could not bend, or your nose, lips, fingers, or toes could not neatly form, you were still you – and you are human. Physical appearance and abilities do not limit your humanity. From the moment God created you with a spiritual soul, animating your unique life form, you were a living human being. No matter what size or shape, no matter how limited or weak, the Creator of All delights in your existence. You are created in the image and likeness of the Divine, which has no physical criteria, and that is why you are sacred from the beginning – independent of length of time or breadth of space – and for all eternity.

You are God’s beloved human creature, no matter what.

© 2016 Christina Chase

originally posted on my parish’s website: CatholicSuncook.org


Jeremiah 1:5

Sources:

The Endowment for Human Development 

Web M.D. (uses LMP for age)

The Archdiocese of Baltimore (image source)

Your First Heartbeat: Human In Utero

You were once smaller than a grain of rice.

And, yes, you looked a little weird at this stage of your development.  But, make no mistake about it – you were you, human in every way, growing and thriving, intimately connected to your mother, your own heart beating with the drive for life.

Finding Shelter

After conception, your cells multiplied and divided quickly, changing you from a zygote to a blastocyst.  As you drifted freely in your mother’s womb, you grew more complex and caught onto the lining of your mother’s uterus, attaching yourself and burrowing in to this place of refuge.  The very touch of your presence caused a space to open for you so that you could nestle in for safety and continued life.  Your mother’s blood vessels, little capillaries, reached out toward you to begin giving you nourishment.  The placenta and umbilical cord began to form, creating that vital connection between you and your mother, without which you could not have grown, without which you could not have survived.

Although she probably didn’t even know of your existence yet, your mother was already mothering you, naturally, with the great biological gifts given to her as a woman.  It was her blood supply that gave you nutrients and through which your wastes were taken away.  She instinctively made room for you and for the continuation of your life.

Heart-To-Heart

In this same first month of your life, when you formed your first connection with a human being, your very own heart began to beat.  Think about it… This was truly the beginning of your life as a human being in relationship with others: another person began to give to you what you needed and take from you what you couldn’t handle on your own.  It is divinely poetic that it was at this moment in your life that you had your first heartbeat.  We say that we relate to one another through the heart.  Think of your mother’s blood vessels, which gave you your first nourishment, as her heart strings.  Your pull upon her heart strings made room for your life – for your own heart to begin to beat, too. Continue reading

Abortion and the Democratic Party Platform

After the 2016 DNC, I have a question:  Why is the Democratic Party making it more difficult for me to vote for Democrats?

Since I don’t usually get into politics here, let me start by stating that I am a pro-life independent.  And, yes, by pro-life I mean all of life.  I’m not a hypocrite.  So, I’m against the death penalty, human embryonic destruction, needless destruction of wildlife habitats, euthanasia, preemptive missile strikes, elective abortions, etc.. I subscribe to neither of the major US political party’s platforms, because neither party’s platform holds all of my beliefs.  Therefore, I choose between both Democrats and Republicans when I vote, being open to members of “third parties”, as well.  And I do vote, taking this civic responsibility very seriously, just as I was raised to do by my family here in New Hampshire.

The Platform of the Democratic Party used to contain the goal of making abortions “more rare.”  But, that kind of thinking is long gone among the party majority and leaders.  The language of the 2016 platform, regarding abortion, states that the Party upholds a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions.  Among Democrats, indeed, the rhetoric has been building for years toward equating abortions – even elective abortions – to healthcare.

To be clear, I not only believe that human beings begin at conception, I also know it.  There is no other point, scientifically speaking, at which we can state that a human being becomes a human being.[1]  Is the termination of a pregnancy, then, as a “healthcare decision”, merely the removal of some kind of growth?  No.  Not unless every human being is a mere “cluster of cells” or “clump of tissue” – and the Democratic Party isn’t saying that.  (So far.)  Continue reading

Respect Life – What Does That Mean?

You may or may not know this, but – October is Respect Life Month. This is certainly not as “mainstream” as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which has even caused football players to wear pink, and which has become somewhat glamorous with all of the media attention. But, those pink ribbons could just as easily be worn for Respect Life Month. No, I wasn’t thinking of them as a representation of the estimated 1,500 little girls who are killed every day in the United States by abortion – every day…. I was thinking that breast cancer is frightening and something that we want to see cured, because we love and respect life.

Respect Life Month is not about one subject – unless that one subject is humankind.

Some of you may have rolled your eyes and felt indignant when you read the abortion statistic above, shutting your mind to another “pro-life” post. Some of you may have even stopped reading. For those of you who consider yourself to be “pro-choice” and are still reading this, I thank you and congratulate you. You have an open mind. Together, along with people who devote their lives to helping unexpectedly pregnant women to choose life for their unborn babies, let us really consider what it means to Respect Life.

What does it mean to respect life?

For those of you who may not really like to talk about God and such, just consider the throwaway society that we are becoming. Things are undervalued, rendered cheap, replaceable, disposable. But, knowing the importance and vulnerability of our common planet, we know that we cannot be wasteful, greedy, and selfish. There are consequences to our actions and life is too precious for us to be reckless in our living of it. Thus, the environmental message and warning is being sounded in many places: “Respect the Earth!” Rightly so.

We want to protect the environment, keeping the ecosystems of our air, food, and water healthy and vibrant because we love and respect life.

As a believing Christian of the universal Church (Catholic) I see that there is simple, profound, and beautiful consistency here. And it begins with the First Cause and Final End of all things…

Begin at the Beginning

Respecting life starts with this – God created everything. And God looked upon what he created and saw that it was good. God’s creation is beautiful. Matter matters to God and he loves everything that he has created. And God created human beings in his own divine image and likeness – that means that we have a uniquely intimate relationship with God among all of the living. God loves each and every human being intimately and infinitely. God gives each and every human being special gifts and purpose – whether we can see them or not. We are important to God. Every human being is sacred.

This truth is good for us to remember, especially when we’re down on ourselves. When you have setbacks or failures, difficulties and heartbreaks, know that you are intimately and infinitely loved by God. You are important to God. You are sacred.

Authentic Love of Self

This is true love of self – for we don’t learn to love ourselves because of our worldly accomplishments, good looks, or athletic abilities. I certainly don’t love myself because of these things! True love of self comes from knowing that God loves us. In fact, we can only love because God first loved us. With this love in mind, we reflect upon Christ’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves. For every human being is sacred, intimately and infinitely loved by God.

Do we look upon our fellow human beings and try to see them as God sees them?

If we did, then surely we would respect life. We would understand that every life is worth living because every human life is important to God, every human being is created for loving relationship. We are most truly and fully ourselves when we are in loving relationship with God – and with others, with our fellow human beings.

Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” And he did not tell us to love the good-looking, the accomplished, the athletically gifted, or the super intelligent. Jesus did not tell us to love the strong or the independently wealthy. He simply told us to love one another. And he simply showed us that those who we may think are unlovable are our true neighbors in need of love. Jesus bravely and affectionately loved the lepers, the little children, the mentally ill, the possessed, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the outsiders, and the poor. Jesus told us that whatever we do to the “least” we do to him. God identifies himself with the littlest and most vulnerable among us.

The elderly man who is lonely and in pain; the 40-year-old woman who is dying of cancer; the homeless man on the corner with a drug addiction and no shoes; the pregnant 19-year-old who is scared, confused, and desperate; the boy with Down syndrome whose mother doesn’t think he should live outside her womb; the twentysomething man who is about to be killed by the State; the young woman who is being physically abused by her boyfriend; the 16-year-old smuggled to the US in a shipping container, slaving at a sweatshop; the severely disabled veteran, overcome with depression, who wants to commit suicide… God is in each of these human beings. Do we see them as God sees them?

Each one of these people is sacred, loved by God infinitely and intimately. We are to love them as we love ourselves – we are to love ourselves as God loves us: unconditionally.

To respect life is not to meet people’s problems with death as the answer. It is to love. True love does not merely find expedient ends, but gives loving care, attention, and appreciation, to every human being.

We can’t live in a throwaway world.

© 2015 Christina Chase

Here I Am

God speaks to us through beauty. The more fragile or hidden the beautiful thing, the stronger the call to love.

nilsson_rm_photo_of_20_week_fetus

If we fail to discern or respond, then we fail in our humanity. We humans were made for this: to receive and give the love of God. In so doing, we, ourselves, are rendered beautiful – for God speaks through us.

mother-teresa

 

Related posts:
Grieving the Death of a Loved One: Beauty Speaks
Pregnant
Mercy Is Joy or It Is Nothing

2014 Christina Chase