Monday, January 15, 2007

‘Multiple’ Reasons To Freak Out!

Well, the wife and I decided to take in a movie last night. It was the National Geographic Channel’s premier of a show about the development of multiples in the womb. We figured as parents of multiples (i.e. Lucy and Ethel) that it would be exciting for us to see what they went through. So we thought. Two hours later we were both stupefied that they developed into the little ones they are today. It is all such an amazing process that you can either walk away spouting the miracles of development or scared to death about everything that has to go like clockwork to turn the little cell into a baby. We both agreed we were glad we hadn’t seen anything like this before Lucy and Ethel were born and that we didn’t tell our friends who are expecting twins about the show. Maybe sometimes, it’s better just not to know how something happens, you know?

The show begins from the moment the egg is fertilized (although every time they showed the sperm, I could swear they were playing the sounds of seagulls) and then follows the process through the cell’s division into twins and beyond. The program followed a mother of twins, a mother of triplets and a mother of quads, which were all identical in some freakish 1-600 million chance. It was neat to see how the different scenarios occurred to create twins or higher multiples, but as the embryo’s development progressed, you felt like just speaking might screw everything up. Apparently so many things happen in development that it seems it wouldn’t take much to have the whole process go wrong. In fact I’m pretty sure that I caught myself holding my breath a few times. It was helpful to see all the different crossroads of development that could have gone wrong to explain my quirky backwards being, but that’s another story. It also begs the question of why we decided to sit and watch this on a holiday weekend, but I’ll plead the 5th for that.

The development from conception through fetus is absolutely mind-boggling. I give you for example the approximately three weeks that we have gills and a tail and are on an evolutionary track to become Mr. Limpet instead of human. Or how about the fact that during development the brain produces literally millions of neurons each day to the point that when we are born we have billions. For the record, this is most likely where things went wrong for me. The special also explained how all of a sudden the cells that make up our heart just start beating randomly one day, which sets in motion a chain of events that get our circulatory system going. It also talked about the development of the eyes, the ears, how the embryo attaches to the lining of the uterus and a whole bevy of things that have to happen just right, but always seem to go fine.

Aiding all of the story telling were models and computer generated ‘inside the womb’ videos. Interestingly, every time they showed them, it sounded like a Sparklett’s bottle gurgling and whooshing. It made me think that if that’s really what it sounds like in the womb, Sparkletts and other bottled water makers have an entirely new younger market to target. “Bottled water, it’s the sound you grew up with.” (I guess I should have trademarked that before committing it to internet, oh well.) The viewer really got the sense of how cramped it can be for multiples as they start to get bigger. They explained in detail how multiples can compete for room and resources (like fuel, water, education and money, I guess) while inside the womb. Apparently I wasn’t that far off when I told my wife after one of Lucy and Ethel’s sonograms that it looked like they were having a boxing match. If only I’d put money on Lucy.

Of everything mentioned or shown during the two hours, perhaps the most intriguing fact was how often there is something called the ‘vanishing twin’ (which coincidentally is the name of a horror flick coming to theaters in October). It seems that midway through a pregnancy, one of the fetuses can get so deprived of what it needs (like credit and a college education) that it literally vanishes. The show said that sometimes the remnants of a vanished twin could be seen in the placenta (which I think is Latin for ‘meat pancake’) or when an empty embryonic sac is spotted during a sonogram. It is thought that some left handed people could have had a vanishing twin because of the way the development occurred. The idea of the vanishing twin brings up so many different issues that I’m probably better off not even thinking about it. Although it probably explains why I talk to myself so often. You know, maybe all people who speak of themselves in third person had a vanishing twin. It’s just a thought, but why else would someone talk about themselves as if they were a whole different person? Spooky, huh?

The show wrapped up neatly showing the birthing process, which for two of the three mothers meant a C-section. It was quite something to see my wife covering her eyes trying not to see the C-section as it showed the cutting of the uterus, plenty of blood and the doctor reaching inside and pulling out each baby. Although I guess that’s better than me covering my eyes during the ‘natural’ birth to avoid seeing the….uh, well, you know…fuzzy wuzzy…

11 comments:

Awesome Mom said...

Wow, that sounds like a neat movie. It truly is amazing how little actually goes wrong in the development of a baby.

Rach said...

hey...I saw the previews for this show. I'm so sad I missed it, but thanks for the recap.

ShadowFalcon said...

have you ever heard of the terrifying myth of a child who murders its twin in the womb?

Odat said...

The beginning of life is certainly amazing, isn't it? It makes one keep wondering. Thanks for sharing that.
Meat pancake?????? ahahahahaha
and oh, I believe I had a vanishing twin too..hehe

Meloncutter said...

I was always told that a buzzard crapped me on a fence post and the sun hatched me out.

You have now ruined my perception of my origins.

Happy now?

Dang. ;)

Later Y'all

Pickled Olives said...

wow. I guess after that movie, smoking and drinking during pregnancy are out of the question...

mist1 said...

I always think of seagulls too.

Dan said...

WHAT??? Get out of here!!!

Yeah, sure, like I started as that little thing? Yeah right. Tell me another good one.

Cece said...

Aw man I missed that show! I had planned to Tivo it but forgot. Maybe I'll check to see when/if it airs again, I'd love to watch it.

Josie said...

Michael, that's amazing. I wish I had seen that show. Thanks for sharing it with us. I wonder how many of us had a vanishing twin. Eerie.

A woman here in Vancouver gave birth to sextuplets a couple of weeks ago. Must have been pretty crowded in there.

Josie

Natalie said...

I am a big fan of the vanishing twin but I prefer the absorbed twin. That would be when one fetus just engulfs the other one. It is the most effective solution to sibling rivalry, you just have to hope that the absorbtion was complete and you don't end up with an extra face coming out of your ass or something.