"This week your baby is becoming distinctly human in shape, looking less like a tadpole and more like a person."
During the past twelve months, I have read this sentence dozens of times. It is the first sentence of Chapter 3 of the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, entitled "month 3: weeks 9 to 12." I read it when I was supposed to be in Chapters 1 and 2, "weeks 1 to 4" and "weeks 5 to 8," peeking ahead to see how the little creature would transform. I also read it each time my calendar indicated that I was entering Week 9... as well as almost every night during the remaining six days of Week 9.
At this stage, the baby is "almost 1 inch long and weighs a bit less than 1/8 of an ounce." The paragraph tells me that the "embryonic tail at the bottom of your baby's spinal cord is shrinking and disappearing, and the face is more round." I scrutinize the drawing next to those words. It is a funny shaped thing. There is a strange, reptilian tail protruding out of its back. The head is large and bulbous. The rounded neck give it the appearance of an alien, and the pot belly is incongruous with its tiny but defined arms, hands, legs, and feet.
I have touched the figure drawn in the "Actual size" box to try to imagine it inside of me. I have shoved the picture in front of Jeff as he lay in bed reading some history or technical book, and watched him stare at it in fascination that it looks the way it does and that such a thing was actually there - with us in bed.
Between chapters 3 and 4, there is a place holder. I have peeked ahead a few times, like the picture in Week 17, where the page cannot afford space for an "Actual size" drawing, only a 50% reduction. But the pages in the later chapters are not nearly as worn. The first three chapters belong in a used book srore, and the following seven, at Border's.
Many chapters forward, there are other sections I am more familiar with, like the one entitled "trying again after a pregnancy loss." The section on "pregnancy loss" in the chapter on "Problems during pregnancy" is cracked at the spine, where I bent it over the xerox machine to make copies for my parents after my first miscarriage. After both miscarriages, I read those sections over and over again, as if they should explain more than the words provided, as if they answered questions that could not be answered.
This week, I find myself impatient. To rush through the remainder of Week 9 and then skip and hop over Weeks 10, 11, and 12. Another month feels unreasonably long, unnecessarily tormenting. Haven't I earned my way to Chapter 4 already?