|Looking for frog eggs
Eggs. Red-legged frogs lug them around this time of year, and they don’t look comfortable. After consulting with the hormone department, I got rid of all mine. It was one of my better moves.
We female humans have all the eggs we’ll ever need and about a million more when we’re born. In fact, the high point of our egg-carrying life occurs well before then. At twenty weeks gestation we’re packing five million of the suckers. Fortunately, brain development is continuing apace, probably including the ability to track the egg surplus, and we begin feverishly killing them off until we’re left with only about a third. Don’t tell the Pope.
That still leaves a lot of eggs to lug around. The human female trots out only about four hundred during her reproductive (“bloaty”) years and the rest have to die, because otherwise she’d menstruate for several hundred years, and you think men are warlike. So our human female continues to destroy some 11,000 eggs a month until she hits or otherwise smacks into puberty. Now we’re down to a more reasonable 300,000 eggs, which is a lot of attrition by any standard. There is no evidence that the selection of eggs to discard is anything other than random. If there were quality control, the 2016 election would have turned out a lot different.
The immature eggs live in little bags of goo called follicles. Thirty or forty of them audition to be a human being every month, but only one matures and gets sent out to the show. Tryouts go on constantly and are not hormone-dependent. But the winning follicle is generally the first to react to Follicle Stimulating Hormone and gets a head start that none of the other follicles can catch up with. The now-mature stimulated egg gets the tiara and all the others die. Which means all of you are here because at some point you sprinted ahead and turned your back on all your fellow follicles. You must be very proud.
The egg with the tiara then gets pooted out of the ovary and into the uterus via the Fallopian tubes. Amazingly, a man named Gabriello Fallopio discovered them 450 years ago; he probably was alerted by the name similarity. He was noted for his dissection skills early on, a distinction that can lead to a life as either a respected scientist or a serial murderer. As later developments revealed, he should have studied tuberculosis instead.
Anyway, our mature egg now travels to the uterus, which has recently been staged with overstuffed sofas and a full pantry, and sits back comfy with the tiara waiting for a date, but when he doesn’t show, all the furniture gets shoved out for another month, through a tiny hole, and isn’t that a righteous picnic for everyone involved. Sure as shit is.
You’re done with it all, however, when the eggs run out, which they will. One thing about those last eggs, though, is they are not spring chicken eggs. They’ve been through the wringer. Older women have a far greater percentage of Abbie Normal eggs and although the most common consequence of that is their eggs don’t properly take to the comfy furniture and turn into humans, another possibility is that they do turn into humans, but not necessarily the kind you were hoping for. There’s a lot more likelihood of chromosomal aberrations in an older woman’s eggs due to longer exposure to free radicals and fevers and stress and whiskey and such.
Which might have been a thing for my mom to think about when she had me at age forty, if indeed I had been thought about at all, although indications are I was not specifically on anyone’s agenda. But my egg was probably all right. It was tucked inside a Norwegian. You can’t get much safer than that.