The Quickening

The baby’s movements are getting stronger – last night I felt it kick! S called me over to where she was laying on the couch and directed my hand to a light pulsing movement in her uterus. I’m feeling the baby earlier than most books say I should, probably because S’s slender, and there’s not much separating me from the baby. These first signs of the baby’s motions are called the quickening, which sounds like something out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

We’re almost at the half-way point of the pregnancy. The baby’s still small – somewhere between five and six inches long, and around five ounces – but everything should be developed and the proportions of its arms and legs and parts are all set. The next few months will be all about growing, as it’ll increase fifteen times in size before the birth.

After feeling it, I’ve begun thinking more and more about what it perceives in there. I read this morning that its brain is differentiating areas for sense perceptions. Though its eyes are closed, does it pick up color? Can it hear my voice? Do smells even carry in the amniotic fluid? In the last ultrasound it looks like it’s sucking its thumb. Does it touch itself a lot? In general, I wonder about the level of awareness it has – I’m not sure I would apply the word consciousness to it yet. Though our brains seem wired for symbolic communication, the baby’s had no exposure to language as I know it, so it’s unlikely that it would have a consciousness I could relate to or communicate with. My ability to speak in words means that I think in words, whereas the baby, if it even has an idea of itself, must only know preverbal urges and needs. Even newborns operate largely on reflex for the first few weeks.

But still something’s down there, and moving around, and I wonder what its world is like. S has come down with a nasty cold – can the baby tell? Is it sick too? Hopefully it is being kept safe and warm in its little sack, and has only the vaguest of sensations about what life is like out here. I think that’s kind of comforting actually. I’m in no rush to move it along. Slow down baby!

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