People are no different: all those long hours worked towards promotion, telling bad jokes, nights spent buying drinks for sultry chimeras in dingy night clubs, and trimming your nostril hair was all to help you get to this one milestone.
Allow yourself to kick back and relax. Treat yourself to a favourite beverage, and think what's been going on in your lady's womb.
After a long sprint (about 10 hours on average)*1 a particularly heroic and exhausted sperm dived into the soft and welcoming egg. The sperm may have had to wait up to 3 days for the egg to get ready (what could she possibly be doing in there?), but they do so patiently, as they all know this is their one big shot, and they don't want to upset the egg. Like most men, it takes about 20 minutes between the sperm starting to caress the egg until it had achieved its mission and fallen asleep.
After about 11 hours the sperm and egg are properly fused together in glorious union. They are now one cell, known as a zygote.
One and a half to three days later, the zygote starts shuffling about and manages the extraordinary feat of becoming two joined cells. Scientists refer to this stage as 'cleavage', because if you look at it under a microscope, the cells look just like a large pair of boobs.
After this first division, there's no stopping them, and they just keep on dividing at the pedestrian pace of once every (approximately) 20 hours. They really need to get a move on as they need to get to 10 trillion or so (estimates vary) in nine months, but nature won't be hurried. At this stage, the embryo is not getting any nutrition, so every time the cells divide, they get smaller and smaller
All this has been going on in the fallopian tube. The fallopian tubes look like a ram's horns, with the womb as the ram's head. When junior gets to 16 cells, 3 to 4 days after ovulation, it's time to leave the fallopian tube and seek out more space in the womb proper. At this stage it's called a morula, which means mulberry shaped.
After a week or so, the embryo has devoured enough of the womb lining to burrow in and start sucking blood.
After 2 1/2 weeks,your partner might be wondering where her period is, but she's probably been this late before, so it's probably no big deal... Meanwhile, the embryo looks like a pear with a line down the middle. The wide bit of the pear is going to be the head. The line down the middle is actually the precursor of the nervous system
About a month after the egg left her home at the end the fallopian tube and was set upon by millions of marauding sperm, your lovely little one looks like an ugly reptile / fish thing. It has a pointy lizard tail, but no arms or legs; instead, it has little stumps.
At about this stage, we had a scare, and went to the hospital for an ultrasound scan. After complementing my wife on her bladder capacity, the doctor managed to find the embryo. There on the screen, before my very eyes, was a rhythmically flashing pixel. Yes, my eyes weren't deceiving me, it really was flashing. I guessed it was the wee one's heart beating, and started blubbing. The doctor confirmed it. All was well.
Two months in, and it really looks like a little person with funny proportions, but still a little person, and it's now about 20mm long, so with a naked eye, you could see it and recognise it. The retina are pigmented and the fingers and toes are no longer webbed*2, and the intestines have begun to work their way form the umbilical cord into the belly where they ought to be.
After 12 weeks, you normally go for a scan, and you can see how baby-like the little one looks. My son puckered his lips into a plunger like shape, as I'm wont to do myself when I'm concentrating. If you like, you can tell if it's a boy or girl along the way. From here on in, it's mostly a matter of just growing.
Sometime around this, your wife will probably feel the urge to redecorate the home. You might think it's unwise for her to be climbing ladders to replaster the ceiling in her condition, and you'd be right. However, this behaviour is common in most animals and there's no talking her out of it. All you can do is hold the ladder, or send her out with her friends and finish it yourself.
A lot of couples spend the pregnancy of their first child preoccupied with the impending birth and its aftermath.
This is actually your last chance in about 18 years to just enjoy being together. Some things are about to get a lot harder, and you need to do them now.
Even when your child is old enough to go to the cinema, you'll have to answer questions most of the way through, and spend large chunks of the film in the toilet. When it all goes right, and your child sits still all through the film, and doesn't need the toilet,your trip to the cinema will be ruined by the film itself, which will be something like The Chipmunks.
You can take a baby to a restaurant no problem. You can even take a bigger child to a restaurant, and they can coat the walls with tomato sauce, climb on the furniture, and ask other patrons where babies come from. THey are unlikely to get you thrown out, but the experience will be different from the halcyon childless days.
Sex. IS safe during regnancy, provided everything is normal, i.e. you're partner is experiencing no leaks (of blood or amniotic fluid), no cramping, and there is no history or threat of preterm delivery or miscarriage, and you're not having twins... SOme men find it off putting, jabbing around so near their progeny, but rest assured, the baby can't feel, much less see anything that's going on.
One final note before the birth. A balloon, in its virgin state, is all smooth and elastic. Once you blow it up, it is still smooth, shiny, and now pleasantly pert to boot. When you then deflate the balloon it's inevitably going to be a bit wrinkly. Your good lady's belly is about to go through a similar cycle. Cocoa butter helps keep the skin elastic, and so the phase III balloon can resemble the phase I balloon. Buy her some.
*1 sources claim anything from 30 minutes to 3 days. Maybe it depends on the scientist whose sperm are being timed.
*2 apart from some of my toes.
Posted on 2011-02-20 06:30:18