Heartbeat

As he guided the small device over Stephanie’s abdomen, the doctor warned us that we might not find anything. Given enough time and patience, he was usually able to find something in three out of four cases. But as the miniature speaker he held in his other hand crackled with static, I wasn’t hopeful. He found Stephanie’s pulse and it was loud and steady. “The baby’s would be much quicker,” he tells us. And then, suddenly, there it is. Faint at first, and only ever picking up slightly in volume, my child’s heartbeat sounds like a sound effect from some B-rate science fiction movie. Strong and steady, it could’ve been the sound of a laser beam sucking the air out of a room. And that’s pretty much what it did. For the few moments we were able to hear it, I felt as I did during that moment weeks ago, when I saw the two flashes of light on the ultrasound monitor, the two flashes of light that were actually just air bubbles between our two embryos, but which seemed to me like something far more miraculous. For those few moments, as Stephanie and I listened to that first faint bit of communication from our baby, I felt part of myself extending beyond the flesh, beyond conscious, rational thought. I felt what I can only describe as pure joy.

The moment was shortlived, and I was upset about that, but there are so many patients and so little time. The doctor shuffled us into his office to discuss our next steps briefly, giving us the encouraging opinion that we should no longer be any more fearful of disaster than the average pregnant couple. Though we had jumped through hoops to get here, he said, we were now just like everyone else. The reproductive process works, he assured us, or else there would be so many of us running around the planet.

That sense of normality was comforting for me; it was exactly what I needed to hear. And I know that I’ve joked that my sense of security regarding this pregnancy only ever lasts a day or so, but this time felt different. With the first trimester almost over with, we have now gotten beyond that three month milestone after which the dangers of miscarriage decrease significantly. Stephanie’s health and medical history give no cause for concern, save for the weight she lost over the last week due to an insane amount of nausea. And my part, the part that gave us all the problems, is over and done with. For the first time, I’m beginning to feel safe. I’m beginning to feel as if I can focus my energies on things other than worrying.

Which means that it’s time to think about my novel again. I’ve stayed away from it for a few months, as my advisor suggested, but I think it’s about time I went ahead and finished the damn thing. Structurally, it doesn’t need a lot of work. The bulk of this next revision will be tightening up and expanding. And the revision after that will be about polishing. And then, I think, it’ll be time to start shopping it around.