Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thoughts on Having a Baby

Everyone talks about how a baby is a gift. Having one just at or after Christmas just cements the idea that this is like a present, unwrapped, tiny, new and untouched. I've heard it so often that the "gift" word almost skates past my ear. But this time it's a little different. We've been waiting a long time for this gift -- 5 years, in fact. And it's possible (nothing's certain) that this is the last time we'll be opening a gift like this. More than anything, I've learned a lot about medicine from teaching biochemistry for six years (rather than just one when Aidan was born). I used to revere doctors more before I taught them (don't take this the wrong way!). I just had to learn about tests and how the body works and what we're able to do and what we're not able to do. Learning more about the medical profession taught me about how powerless it really is in some situations. I mean, most of what happens inside the womb happens automatically, without our input. We can watch and maybe push one way or the other with treatments, but so many systems and organs are being implemented every day, completely beyond our control. I didn't and my doctor didn't sculpt that nose, or that wrinkly forehead, or that flat little ears. I didn't put that placenta into place or carve the channels in it where mother and son meet, or form that yellow hose connecting it to the child -- all I did was cut it with some scissors. I didn't form those kidneys that filter that waste, or the stomach that takes in the milk, or the rooting reflex that brings the milk in. I didn't do any of these things, and neither did my doctor. These were given to me. The body, even this little body that 9+ months ago only existed as two half-cells, is too complex to even think about. My response to this before birth is to worry. My response after birth is to say, wow, it pretty much works after all.

I was amazed at the large Lego sets that Sam got for Christmas, how they always had exactly the right number of pieces. Sometimes I thought they left one out, but that was my mistake, I eventually found it after more searching. Lego can do a good job, but the giver of babies does it one better, a thousand times better. Not least: no assembly required.

Hmmm ... from the smell coming next to me , it's time to go change the gift ...

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