Recap for Blog 18 – The science of baby making: Zani is ecstatic. After hours of researching what being a new father involves and really feels like, Jake is ready to take on the challenge. And now we are allowed a peek into Jake’s research on what we like to call the birds and the bees – the truth is a tiny bit more complicated!
Finally, he stumbles across a multimedia program that allows him to personalise his and Zani’s experience, to delve further into this daunting world of conception. His fingers fly over the keyboard as he keys in their particulars and reams of data that will put an entirely new spin on the adventure that lies ahead for them both. He clicks Submit, and then settles back as the program kicks in, a serious BBC-type voice launching into a monologue on what he and Zani can expect.
Authoritative but perfectly accessible – even to his addled mind, Jake thinks. Within minutes, he is entirely captivated.
Jake and Zani … Nature long sensed their genes would complement each other well. When they met, the pheromones they both released meant there was a natural attraction. Pheromones are nature’s way of communicating with itself to select a good partner and with Jake and Zani they acted as a magnet that drew the couple together.
Pregnancy doesn’t start when a couple decides they want to have a baby. Both partners had been preparing to have babies even before they themselves were born.
Zani’s sex organs developed early during her mom’s pregnancy and within five months of conception all the eggs she would ever produce had already formed in her ovaries. If her budding sex organs had been exposed to toxic substances, or if Mom had had an infection during this period, it could happen that any harm only became apparent later in life when she suffered from menstrual disorders or failed to fall pregnant.
It is Zani’s weight more than her age that determined when her body would start to ripen in preparation for falling pregnant. When she had a certain percentage of body fat, a signal was sent to tell her body that she was ready to become a woman.
A miraculous series of events took place to bring about menstruation and her first menstruation indicated that all was well and ready for the 400 opportunities to fall pregnant during her lifetime. This series of events is set in motion every four weeks, when the pituitary gland and the ovaries start flirting with each other to release the female sex hormone oestrogen.
Oestrogen made Zani’s breasts develop and triggered hair growth in areas of her body where her personal smell is more intense. Oestrogen also made the young pubescent Zani giggle with her friends, become aware of her appearance, and was the reason why she suddenly became interested in boys.
As she grew more mature, it became easy for her to notice when an egg is ripe and ready to be fertilised because the mucus in her cervix and uterus would increase in volume. When the mucus starts forming a threadlike substance it is her body’s way of letting Zani know her body is becoming more alkaline and is literally paving the way, by means of the mucus, for the sperm to enter the uterus with greater ease. If this doesn’t happen, the acidity in her body kills sperm even before they have a chance to compete in the race for conception.
“Yoh!” Jake laughs to himself as he clicks on Pause. “One helluva ride. The race is on before there’s even a brain! Poor oke.” He empties the coffee cup before sitting back again, and clicking Play to learn more about the ‘science of baby making.’
Roughly two weeks after menstruation starts, an egg is released into Zani’s fallopian tube where the egg waits for more or less 24 hours to be fertilised. If a sperm does not manage to fight its way through the mucus to reach the egg in these 24 hours, the egg disintegrates and dies. For Jake and Zani that would mean having to wait one more month to fall pregnant.
When a strong and healthy sperm manages to reach the egg, a second female hormone called progesterone is released, and that brings about changes in the lining of the uterus that allows it to receive a fertilised egg. Just like weaver birds build a nest and break it up if it is not used, so the uterus prepares to receive a fertilised egg every month and if no fertilisation takes place, the lining is shed. Menstruation is the shedding of that lining and is nature’s way of preparing the uterus to create a fresh lining in case fertilisation happens next month.
Jake’s body has also been primed to reproduce. In fact, he was born with numerous immature sperm. As in Zani’s case, his pituitary gland is mostly responsible for his sexual maturing and sperm production. Strangely enough, the pituitary glands produce exactly the same hormones – male and female – in both Jake and Zani, but it is the hypothalamus that regulates its functions to bring about vastly different cocktails of hormones in both sexes: more male, fewer female hormones in Jake, and more female, fewer male hormones in Zani.
Jake feels a little awkward hearing himself being spoken about in the third person – especially considering the narrator is some dude he’s never even met. And here the oke is chattering on merrily about his hormones…
“Awkwaaard …” Jake mumbles to himself.