The Story of Christine
by Fred Gielow. Posted here for February 11,2019.
The road back home
This is the story of Christine, but it can be the story of countless others.
Her life begins when her mother's egg is fertilized by a sperm. The fertilized egg starts dividing into multiple cells as it travels down the Fallopian tube, enters the mother's uterus, and starts to burrow into the uterine lining.
By the third week, Christine is nestled in the nutrient-rich lining of her mother's uterus as a microscopic ball of hundreds of rapidly multiplying cells. That ball has begun to produce the pregnancy hormone hCG, which tells her mother's ovaries to stop releasing eggs.
In the fourth week, Christine is the size of a poppy seed.
At five weeks, Christine looks more like a tadpole than a human being, but she's growing fast. The circulatory system is beginning to form, and Christine's tiny heart will begin to beat this week. Christine is the size of a sesame seed.
By six weeks, Christine's nose, mouth, and ears are starting to take shape, and the intestines and brain are beginning to develop. She is now the size of a lentil.
At seven weeks, Christine has doubled her size since last week, but still has a tail, which will soon disappear. Tiny hands and feet that look more like paddles are emerging from the developing arms and legs. Christine is the size of a blueberry.
At eight weeks, Christie has started moving around in the uterus. Nerve cells are branching out, forming primitive neural pathways. Breathing tubes now extend from Christine's throat to her developing lungs. She is now the size of a kidney bean.
In week nine, Christine's basic physiology is in place (she even has tiny earlobes), but there's much more to come. Her embryonic tail has disappeared. She weighs just a fraction of an ounce but is about to start gaining weight fast. She's the size of a grape.
After ten weeks, Christine has completed the most critical portion of her development. Her skin is still translucent, but her tiny limbs can bend, and fine details like finger and toe nails are beginning to form. Christine is the size of a kumquat.
At eleven weeks, Christine is almost fully formed. She's kicking, stretching, and even hiccupping as her diaphragm develops. She's the size of a fig.
At twelve weeks, Christine's reflexes kick in: Her fingers will soon begin to open and close, toes will curl, and her mouth will make sucking movements. She'll feel it if her mother gently pokes her own tummy. Christine is the size of a lime.
At the thirteen-week mark, Christine has finished her first trimester. Her tiny fingers now have fingerprints, and her veins and organs are clearly visible through her skin. Her ovaries contain more than 2 million eggs. Christine is the size of a pea pod.
By fourteen weeks, Christine's brain impulses have begun to fire and she's using her facial muscles. Her kidneys are working now, too. At times she may suck her thumb. Christine is the size of a lemon.
At fifteen weeks, Christine's eyelids are still fused shut, but she can sense light. If you shine a flashlight on her mother's tummy, she'll move away from the beam. Christine is now the size of an apple.
At sixteen weeks, the patterning on Christine's scalp has begun, though hair isn't visible yet. Her legs are more developed, and her mother can feel it when Christine kicks. Her head is more upright, and her ears are close to their final position. Christine is the size of an avocado.
By the seventeenth week, Christine can move her joints, and her skeleton. Formerly soft cartilage is now hardening to bone. The umbilical cord is growing stronger and thicker. She's the size of a turnip.
By the eighteenth week, Christine is flexing her arms and legs. Internally, a protective coating of myelin is forming around her nerves. She is the size of a bell pepper.
After nineteen weeks, Christine's senses -- smell, vision, touch, taste and hearing -- are developing and she may be able to hear her mother's voice. Christine is the size of an heirloom tomato.
At the twentieth week, Christine can swallow, and her digestive system is producing meconium, the dark, sticky goo that she'll pass in her first poop -- either in her diaper or in the womb during delivery. She is now the size of a banana.
At twenty-one weeks, Christine's movements have gone from flutters to full-on kicks and jabs against the walls of her mother's womb. Christine is the size of a carrot.
In the twenty-second week, Christine now looks almost like a miniature newborn. Features such as lips and eyebrows are more distinct, but the pigment that will color her eyes isn't present yet. She's the size of a spaghetti squash.
By the twenty-third week, Christine's ears are getting better at picking up sounds. After birth, she may recognize some noises outside the womb that she's hearing inside now. She's the size of a large mango.
At twenty-four weeks, Christine cuts a pretty long and lean figure, but chubbier times are coming. Her skin is still thin and translucent, but that will begin to change soon, too. She is the size of an ear of corn.
By the twenty-fifth week, Christine's wrinkled skin is starting to fill out with baby fat, making her look more like a newborn. Her hair is beginning to come in, and it has color and texture. Christine is now the same weight as an average rutabaga.
During the twenty-sixth week, Christine is now inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid, which helps develop her lungs. These breathing movements are good practice for that first breath of air at birth. She's the size of a bunch of scallions.
The twenty-seventh week is the last week of Christine's second trimester. She now sleeps and wakes on a regular schedule, and her brain is very active. Her lungs aren't fully formed, but they could function outside the womb with medical help. She's the size of a head of cauliflower.
Come the twenty-eighth week, Christine's eyesight is developing, which may enable her to sense light filtering in from the outside. She can blink, and her eyelashes have grown in. She's the size of a large eggplant.
At twenty-nine weeks, Christine's muscles and lungs are busy getting ready to function in the outside world, and her head is growing to make room for her developing brain. She's the size of a butternut squash.
By the thirtieth week, Christine is surrounded by a pint and a half of amniotic fluid, although there will be less of it as she grows and claims more space inside her mother's uterus. Christine is now the size of a large cabbage.
When the thirty-first week rolls around, Christine can now turn her head from side to side. A protective layer of fat is accumulating under her skin, filling out her arms and legs. She's the size of a coconut.
At thirty-two weeks, Christine will be gaining about a half pound per week. She'll gain one-third to half her birth weight in the next seven weeks in preparation for life outside the womb. Christine is the size of a large jicama.
At thirty-three weeks, Christine's bones in her skull aren't fused yet. That allows them to shift as her head squeezes through the birth canal. They won't fully fuse until adulthood. Christine is the size of a pineapple.
Upon the thirty-fourth week, Christine's central nervous system is maturing, as are her lungs. Babies born between 34 and 37 weeks who have no other health problems usually do well in the long run. Christine is the size of a cantaloupe.
At thirty-five weeks, Christine's kidneys are fully developed, and her liver can process some waste products. She is the size of a honeydew melon.
In the thirty-sixth week, Christine is gaining about an ounce a day. She's also losing most of the fine down that covered her body, along with the vernix casosa, a waxy substance that was protecting her skin until now. She's the size of a head of romaine lettuce.
At thirty-seven weeks, Christine's due date is very close, but though she looks like a newborn, she isn't quite ready for the outside world. Over the next two weeks her lungs and brain will fully mature. She's now the size of a bunch of Swiss chard.
After thirty-eight weeks, Christine's irises are not fully pigmented, so if she's born with blue eyes, they could change to a darker color up until she's about a year old. Christine is the size of a leek.
Finally, at thirty-nine weeks, Christine's physical development is complete, but she's still busy putting on fat she'll need to help regulate her body temperature in the outside world. Christine is the size of a mini watermelon.
But now, Christine is experiencing something foreign to her developmental process. A physician has dilated her mother's cervix. Christine's body is rotated until she is facing feet downwards. A surgeon reaches into Christine's mother's uterus and pulls Christine's body, with the exception of her head, out of Christine's mother's body. Surgical scissors are inserted into the base of Christine's skull, then withdrawn. Christine can feel the pain. Like any baby could. A suction tube is inserted into Christine's skull, a machine is turned on, and her brains are methodically sucked out. Of course this kills Christine. The process also partially collapses Christine's skull. That makes it easier to extract Christine's dead baby from her mother's body.
Doctors say this late-term abortion procedure is called "D&X," Dilation and Extraction. It's also called "partial birth abortion," because the baby is half-born before it is put to death.
Women say abortion is a woman's right to choose. First trimester. Second trimester. Third trimester. It's their right, they say. Their choice.
But what of Christine's right to live? What of her right to choose? What of her life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness?
(Source of description of developmental characteristics.)
(Source of D&X description.)