Last week I had the privilege of welcoming a new human being into the world who also happened to be our first grandson. As I looked on this wee little man, just 4 pounds 7 ounces, the thousand-year-old Psalm 139 came to mind: “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”

Of course, human development can sometimes go awry, but today’s is not an article to delve into those depths. We are intensely thankful for how often it goes right, including this time. Some 16 centuries ago, Augustine observed, “People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering... Now, let us acknowledge the wonder of our physical incarnation — that we are here, in these particular bodies, at this particular time, in these particular circumstances.”

So, how did we get the information for the construction process of our beyond-ingenious bodies? It’s encoded in our DNA which, if uncoiled, would stretch 10 billion miles. And its encoding of information is so efficient that just one tiny DNA molecule contains 40 times the information in a set of Encyclopedia Britannica. I can get overwhelmed by the instruction sheet for assembling a grill and have a small bag of left-over nuts and bolts at the end of the assembly; putting together a human being is infinitely more complex and delicate, but we sometimes forget to be awed by it.

On a lesser, but still very important note, we are also very thankful for the contribution of modern medicine in the safe arrival of this little guy. Typically, a baby is in its mother’s womb for some 40 weeks. At 35 weeks, the obstetrician noted that the growth of this little one had stopped. A more detailed ultrasound indicated that the circulation from the placenta was waning. An injection was given to speed up the development of the lungs and one more week was given to see if further growth might occur. One can imagine how precarious this week was for mom as she was tasked to notice whether there was any decrease in the movements of her little guy and go to the ER if any change was noted.

The next ultrasound showed no growth and the cushioning fluid around the baby had all but disappeared. He would need to be delivered promptly and our daughter was admitted and put on a drip to stimulate labor. After some hours it became clear that things were not going to progress readily, and her little guy was showing signs of distress. A C-section became the only safe way to proceed. All went well and the little boy was able to avoid the NICU (newborn intensive care unit) by one ounce and by being vigorous enough with his breathing and feedings.

Modern medicine is, of course imperfect. But we are thankful for the several observations and interventions extended. In bygone days, or in many other places on the planet even in our day, the lack of growth would likely have gone unnoticed, and even if noticed, could not have been responded to in a life-saving way. The outcome would have been heart-breaking. We are so thankful that it was not so in this case.

Since that welcome entrance into our world, several adult humans have been carefully helping with feedings and changings while taking countless pictures and videos to document this miraculous little man — no more or less miraculous than each new little human that God amazingly weaves in their mother’s womb.

Dr. Andrew Smith is board-certified in family medicine and practices at 2217 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Maryville. Contact him at 982-0835.

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