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A Simple Omission

Every week I get an update from babycenter.com. The website helps to keep simple track of where you are, where you’re going and what to expect when you get there. It also has interesting facts like, “This week, your baby is the size of an onion!”

The website says that the weekly updates are reviewed by a team of doctors for medical accuracy and whatnot, but I think they’re suffering from some glaring omissions. Take, for example, the update I got this week:

How your baby’s growing: This week your baby weighs almost 2 pounds and is about 14.4 inches long with his legs extended. He can now open and close his eyes, and he sleeps and wakes at regular intervals. He may suck his fingers, and although his lungs are still immature, they would be capable of functioning – with assistance – if he were to be born prematurely.

Your body is gearing up for the final lap, so you may start noticing some new symptoms. Along with an aching back, for example, you may find that your leg muscles cramp up now and then. They’re carrying extra weight, after all, and your pregnancy is putting extra demands on your circulation. Your growing bulge puts pressure on the blood vessels that return blood from your legs to your heart and on the nerves leading from your trunk to your legs.

Now read the update with the necessary corrections.

This week your baby weighs almost 20 pounds because that’s how much extra weight you’re carrying, and is about 14.4 inches long with his legs extended. His legs are often extended, and there are times when he may not be curled into fetal position at all, but rather, standing on one leg with his arms extended above his head to maximize the appearance of your stomach as well as poke you in the ribs now and then. He can now open and close his eyes, and he sleeps and wakes at intervals directly opposite to your schedule, which means he’s most feisty and kicksome from midnight to Fajr. He may suck his fingers, which is a silly habit but at least he isn’t picking his nose, and although his lungs are still immature, they would be capable of functioning – with assistance – if he were to be born prematurely.

Your body is gearing up for the final lap, so you may start noticing some new symptoms. Along with an aching back, for example, you may find that your leg muscles cramp up more often than now and then. You must be careful to work the cramp out before trying to stand up, lest you lose balance and end up hopping on one leg and going ‘ow ow ow!’ Not that we’re saying you’re fat, but your pregnancy is putting extra demands on your circulation. Your growing bulge, the one that no longer fits into any of your pants, puts pressure on the blood vessels that return blood from your legs to your heart and on the nerves leading from your trunk to your legs.

SubhanAllah. I don’t know if there’s any way to describe how it all really feels, carrying a child. Yeah, pregnant wimminz complain, it can’t be helped sometimes. You used to be one person with a waist and a fitness level of some sort. Now you’re two people with no waist and indigestion.

(My theory on heartburn and pregnancy is that indigestion is God’s way of keeping pregnant women from gaining too much weight.)

You used to stay up late, you used to have energy enough to fly up the stairs and zip around, now you take stairs slowly and have difficulty tying your own shoes.

(My theory on pregnancy and shoelaces is that your legs must get longer when you’re pregnant, which is why your shoelaces seem impossibly far away.)

You used to pay as little attention to your stomach as you did to your elbows and knees, it was just another part of your body. Now, you rest your hand on your stomach and feel for the movement of the child held under just a few layers of tissue. You hold your stomach and feel amazed, content, blessed. You put your hand over your stomach protectively when you cross the street, and there are times when you wrap your arms around it as best as you can and pray that you do right by the tiny person inside.

You wonder, you worry, about when your child will be born into the world- into this world, with all its darkness, with all the forces that human malevolence directs against humanity. Your child is weeks away from being born, months away from walking, years away from temptation, but you’re already worried about how the world will treat them. You can give them only so much, you can teach them only so much.

You pray desperately that God protect your child, not from being in the world, but from falling into the world. You pray that your child is given a character that God loves, an intelligence and a faith that will carry them through this life and save them from the consequence of deliberate sin. You hope and you pray, but you don’t know what kind of person your child will be. You do, however, have faith that God is never unjust, and God loves His creations more than you do, and this insane, overpowering, indescribable love towards a small human you’ve never met is nothing compared to the mercy that God has promised yours and all other children.

You wonder what kind of person, what kind of Muslim lies resting inside of you.

You feel the gentle nudge of the child turning from one side to another and you are relieved, reassured for a time at least, that your child is safe.

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