Once upon a time I was a Zygote.
No, that is not a villain in some Star Wars universe or a character from the Walking Dead. A zygote is that single cell of life first formed when conception occurs. The creation of the zygote usually occurs in a mother’s fallopian tubes. Once conceived, the new life continues to grow as it takes a six day travel tour down the tube and implants itself into the wall of his/her mother’s womb.
And continues to grow.
Then time and nutrition take over.
Somewhere in that process it becomes an embryo. And continues to grow and grow and grow. It grows so fast in the first three months of life that if it doesn’t slow down, it will weigh 14 tons at birth. The womb, to state the obvious, is a dynamic environment. In a few weeks, the new life reaches a stage called a fetus.
Oh, the labels don’t stop coming.
Birth isn’t the beginning of development, just a change in location. Once we leave the pre-natal development stage, we enter the infant stage followed by toddler, preschooler, adolescent child, teenager, adulthood, middle age, and senior citizen — growing and maturing all the while. In fact, science tells us that our brain is not yet fully formed until we are twenty-five years old — which explains why teenagers act the way they do.
I am long removed from my once-upon-a-time status of zygote. Now a senior citizen, if I keep eating chocolate chip cookies, I may yet reach 14 tons.
Human development is an amazing process.
Yet, at what stage are you not you?
Christian theology tells us that God knew us from before we were even conceived. Psalm 139: 13-16 reminds us,
For You created my innermost parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, because I am awesomely and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You
When I was made in secret, And skillfully formed in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my formless substance;
And in Your book were written all the days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
The Science of Embryology, Microbiology, and Genetics provides us some amazing facts. From the moment of conception, this new life possesses a unique set of DNA chromosomes. While it is housed inside its mother’s body, the new life is not part of the mother’s body. Only through the amazing role of the placenta, is it not rejected by its mother’s body. The heart begins to beat regularly at 24 days. After 28 days this new life is already 10,000 times larger than the fertilized egg. At the end of the second month, the sex is identifiable. During the third month, this new life can suck its thumb, begin to hiccup, and its fingers can grasp an object. It has fingerprints. At ten weeks, it can feel pain. At 12 weeks, it can smile. Between 16 and 20 weeks, the ovaries of a female fetus already contain 6 to 7 million egg cells. Somewhere about 21-22 weeks, the fetus has been known to survive outside the womb.
Each year, January is designated as Sanctity of Human Life month to recognize the sacredness of life and to encourage communities to support women, their unborn children, and families who need life-affirming hope, help, and care. Whether you are a Christian who sees human development inside the womb as God’s amazing handiwork, or an atheist who is fascinated with what science tells us about human embryology, one can only be in awe of the Facts of Life.
If there is anything sacred about life, isn’t this it?
Is there anything more innocent than an unborn child?
Is anything more vulnerable and in need of protection than this life in the womb?
Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase Choose Life, doesn’t it.
Note: Picture courtesy of Fe Ngo on Unsplash.com.