Week 10 - Fetus
After all that talk of barrelling through in the letter about last week, I’m still puttering along, about two months behind schedule. Puttering—now there’s a wonderful word, don’t you think? Merriam-Webster says that to putter is “to move or act aimlessly or idly” or “to work at random”. Thank goodness that, inside your mother’s womb, you were not puttering at all. In fact, this was the week you reached a remarkable new phase in your development. You were no longer an embryo. Now, you were a fetus.
Semantics, I know. I mean, what is the difference anyway? Well, the word fetus was supposed to comfort us, I imagine. It was supposed to let us know that you were one step closer to becoming a real, live human being. But just say the two words out loud and think for a moment. Doesn’t the word embryo have an infinitely more mellifluous sound to it? Wouldn’t you agree that the word fetus is far more frightening, that it might inspire far more trepidation in the hearts of a pair of expectant parents? After all, whereas embryos are “lost”, fetuses “die”, don’t they?
That you were a fetus now was exciting, but the milestone I was awaiting with baited breath was the end of the first trimester. And that was still two weeks away. Fetus or no, the chances of us losing you didn’t go down, at least as far as I was concerned, until that magic moment when we passed the three-month marker.
Words, words, words… What did the word fetus mean to you then? Nothing. Just a label. So, let’s have a concrete detail, shall we?
Aside from the fact that you were once one thing and you were now something else, you measured 1 1/4 inches and weighed just under half an ounce. You were tiny, yes. But it was still miraculous to me that we could begin to imagine you in tangible ways. Nobody I know knows how big eight cells are. But I knew how big an inch was, and I had a fairly good idea how much half an ounce weighed. Little by little, you were becoming less dream and more reality.