Week 12 - Heart Beats, Part Two

Dear Baby,

For the second time in this pregnancy, I accompanied your mother to an appointment while dealing with a significant ailment of my own. Throughout the week, I’d been suffering from a severely bloodshot eye, and when we arrived at the doctor’s office on Wednesday morning to hear your heartbeat for the very first time I did my best to not look the doctor in the eye at all. Instead, I kept my head low and listened to one of the most miraculous sounds I have ever heard, the sound of your heart beating.

I’m pretty happy with the way I described this scene in my own journal at the time, so I’ll just reprint that passage here:

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.

That was pretty much the highlight of the week for us, out here in the outside world. Inside the womb, your brain, while not the same size it would be at birth, had attained the same structure it would have when you were born. You now weighed about fourteen grams, double what you weighed the week before. And you were about three and a half inches in total length.

I will now attempt to end one of these letters/entries without getting all schmaltzy and recounting again how much I loved you despite the fact that my life was getting back to normal.

Love, Dad