COLUMN: From the womb to the tomb, life is a gift from God

Published 7:30 am Sunday, January 21, 2024

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I can announce that I am now a great-aunt. My nephew and his wife gave birth to a baby boy recently. The parents posted ultrasound pictures of their baby that determined they were having a boy.

From the ultrasound pictures and soon after his birth, he favored his father. Comparing their newborn photos side by side, you couldn’t tell them apart. I asked my brother what he wanted his grandson to call him. I suggested Granddaddy, like our children called our dad. He hasn’t decided.

I remember seeing the ultrasound pictures of my granddaughter. Our daughter and son-in-law knew they were expecting a girl. The minute I held her in my arms at the hospital I knew why your children’s children are called grandchildren. It’s because they are grand! I am Gramma-Jan, but would have answered to whatever she wanted to call me.

Ultrasounds give us a window into the womb. We can see not just gender, but also another human being inside the mother’s belly. It’s eye-opening to research the development of the preborn life within the mother. At three weeks after conception, the preborn baby’s heart begins to beat with the child’s own blood. Brain waves are detectable by week six.

By the eighth week, the baby can begin to hear. Maybe that’s why a newborn recognizes his mother’s voice. He or she has heard it for several months. At week 12, all organ systems are functioning. The baby has a skeletal structure, can hiccup, and can suck its thumb. A mother usually finds out she’s pregnant about this time.

By the end of four months since conception, the baby will be 8 to 10 inches in length and will weigh up to a half a pound. During the fifth and sixth months, the baby can grasp the umbilical cord. He or she is now 12 inches long and weighs up to one and a half pounds.

The words King David wrote speak truth to us today, “For You (God) formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13 – 14 NKJ). God had “ultrasound” before man invented it.

After the exciting news about my great nephew’s arrival, I thought about how my mother would have celebrated knowing she had a great-grandson. She went to be with the Lord last year the week before Mother’s Day. My siblings and I experienced the long good-bye caused by dementia. We watched her decline for several years. She needed more and more help to get through each day.

Care-giving for an elderly person is not unlike taking care of a baby. She eventually needed adult diapers and pureed food that looked like baby food. During the final stage of dementia, she refused to eat no matter how much we begged her. It was the reverse of when she told us to eat our vegetables, even if we didn’t like the broccoli. We spoon fed her like she fed us.

During her long good-by, we did everything we could to keep her comfortable and give her the dignity she deserved. God knows the number of our days. He sees each of us at our conception until our death. Life, from the womb to the tomb – is a gift from God.

— Jan White has compiled a collection of her columns in her book, “Everyday Faith for Daily Life.”