Just like any expectant mother, I want to know how our baby is developing from week to week. When did her arms begin to bud? Week 7 when she was less than a tenth of an ounce. When was she able to start squinting or making a frowny face? That would be week 14. When did her sensory organs really being working? By week 19, she was able to do more than hear my tummy growl.
But it was this week's big developmental stage (as delivered via email from TheBump.com for week 21) that left a lump in my throat:
And, if baby is a girl, her womb is now stocked up with her lifetime supply of six million eggs (the number will drop to around one million by birth).
Not that I have forgotten our long journey to pregnancy through our issues with fertility, but I had not yet anticipated my own daughter's future fertility. We knew we were having a girl. Michael and I had imagined a life with her on family vacations and teaching her piano and how to keep her from being a drama queen. Then boys will want to date her. Her girlfriends will organize sleepovers and shopping sprees. She'll want to push curfew and experiment with her wardrobe. She might even listen to music of her generation's Justin Bieber. Gag...
But aside from all the sociological, emotional, and personal developing our daughter will go through, she has reached a biological milestone: our baby has her own eggs now. That means that one day, she'll hit puberty and have an ovulatory cycle. If her period grows into a ferocious monster the same way mine did, she may start on birth control to help ease and moderate her symptoms. Then after she meets her Mr. Right, she'll become a married woman and have the chance to do something with the eggs she still has. All it will take is holding someone's tiny baby, and she'll think to herself, "I want a baby. I want to be a mom." There will be discussion between her and her spouse, and together, they'll rejoice in their very grown-up decision to start trying for a child.
And even though I'm the type that dreams of a future with kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids (if the longevity gene continues with me), I can't help but wonder: will my little girl endure the same fertility fate that I did? Will she have to know the heartache of watching dozens of her friends become mommies while she makes appointment after appointment for hormone checks and Femara refills? Will she be disappointed by multiple pregnancy tests that show a negative result? Will she have to come up with a "Plan B" the way we did in case pregnancy isn't an option?
So as I stare at the medical illustration of our fetus, these thoughts are racing through my mind. I realize there are at least a couple of decades (maybe more) before our daughter will be facing this reality, which makes me feel a wee bit ridiculous for letting such fears permeate my skull. There are far worse things she will have to face and learn to cope with in her life, and I have a feeling she will be a strong individual who will know how to focus on the positive things in her life. My simple prayer is that when she has matured from little girl to young woman to want-to-be-mom, her eggs will not fail her.