Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bodies and babies

"I always have to remind myself that I'm human and that the potential of the human being is that there's a magic that can happen within that... That's where it can bring you beyond what your body might be able to do. I'm so excited just to go there and just let it unfold."
-Clara Hughes

Today a group of us from work went to the Bodies exhibition downtown. The exhibit has been in town for the last few months, but of course I didn't around to seeing it until it extended its stay. I wasn't sure what to expect; however, I'm still reflecting on it. It made a stronger impression on me than I thought it would. At least a hundred people have been dissected and then preserved by acetone and polymers, showing the different body parts.

There were probably ten rooms, each highlight a different system of the body: respiratory, circulatory, etc. At one point all of the nerves had been extracted and were pulled out to show how they extended from head to toe. In another exhibit the body had been dissolved, leaving the millions of blood vessels. It looked like kind of like moss. As I walked through each room, I found myself twisting my wrist when they described joints and squeezing my biceps when they explained muscles.

As a kid I was always amazed by the many functions that the body performs--at every second of everyday. An organ like the stomach performs its job in the size of a large fist, where it would take a large factory for men to do what stomach does. Illustrations in biology textbooks have no sense of scale, but real bodies do. And believe me, now I'm even more amazed than before.

However, the exhibit that touched me the most was the fetal development room. Before entering, a sign informed guests that they could bypass the room if they so chose. I have a tough heart and a rather liberal perspective, and thought that I would be fine. But those little babies sure did tug on my heartstrings. Some had a head full of hair.
I just wanted to hold them.

About a month ago I ran across an intriguing blog written by a mother about her pregnant teenage daughter. She speaks of all of the emotions that go along with a situation like that, from anger and sadness to excitement and anticipation. When I got back to the office after the Bodies, I checked in and found out that Jayme had had her baby last night! A full-term, healthy baby boy! God bless Gabriel and all the other little babies in the world!

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