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The story of the remarkable journey which all of us make from conception to birth has never been more graphically or movingly told. Hour by hour, then day, by day, then week by week, Geraldine Lux Flanagan unravels for us the mysteries of that inner world in which we are first formed as human beings. The mysteries can now be seen as well as told. Scientific advances allow us to peek through a window into the womb, to follow in microscopic detail the progress of our formative weeks. Armed on the one hand with a stunning sequence of photographic images, many of them previously unpublished, and the other with her gift for clear and sensitive description, Geraldine Lux Flanagan provides us with a truly compelling narrative, one that simultaneously sharpens our understanding and expands our sense of wonder. Over the first seven weeks we follow the amazing transformation of a minute cluster of cells to a fully formed, though tiny embryo. The timetable is no less dramatic for being predictable -- by Day 9 the foundation for the brain and nervous system will be detectable, by Day 25 the heart will be beating, by Day 28 the embryo will have recognizable arms, by Day 37 the nose will be seen in profile, and by Day 49 the bone marrow cells appear and the baby is essentially complete. Thereafter development is measured in weeks and become subject to individual differences. We discover how the baby's senses respond to, and are influenced by, the world outside. We learn about, and see, a constant repertoire of movements that seems to contradict the traditional view of the slumbering fetus. As the author says, "The legendary curled-up fetal position exists only in our imagination; the baby does not seem to know if it." The magical combination of worlds and images in Beginning Life will ensure its status as a classic work of reference that will surely claim a wide readership -- from young adults to parents-to-be.
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