The nurse midwife had done all the explaining, the checking, the blood pressure taking, the exam, and all that was left was to put a little clear goo on the end of what looked like a fisher-price toy antique-telephone and place it on Cara’s abdomen. It was a little cold in the room so the gel must have been pretty chilly, but my wife didn’t show any signs of discomfort, she just looked excited. Out of the tinny speaker on the pale blue device came a wind rushing, whorling noise like holding a conch shell up to your ear, only this time the ocean we heard was Caras womb. In the distance came the calm “thwump thwump” of her own heart beat from what sounded like miles away, strange echos and tides seemed to surge our of the box. As the midwife moved the wand over Caras tummy there broke the occasional staticky squelch, then more ocean. After only 30 seconds that first thought, (the evil one that our brains seem to keep loaded and ready like a round in the chamber to fire at you) began to creep up, “what if they can’t find it?” The midwife seemed to hear something, she put the box close to her ear, made a small adjustment to the right.
People often describe something as happening “magically”, sometimes its over an event as silly as getting an extra sandwich in their McDonalds bag for free, but sometimes something really does happen as if by magic and is true in every sense of that word. Something unexpected, something that you never thought would happen to you. Some aspect of reality changes as if an unseen force willed it into being.
In a moment, magically, came the sound of tiny heart beating. Fluttering almost like a moth trying to come in the window towards the light or the way I imagine a sleeping mouse’s’ heart must sound. I heard the sound of my babies heart. Magically.
I had seen two lines on a pee soaked pregnancy test, I was well aware my wife growing nauseous and her sudden desire to go to bed at 8:30. I knew that there was a little person in her body now, but hearing that heartbeat made reality seem suddenly very much more real.We looked at each other and Cara made that crazy smile of hers where every neck muscle pops out, her head squats down between her shoulders and those adorable rabbit teeth poke out over her bottom lip just emits pure joy. There was no more worry, there was just the unexpectedly powerful sounding little engine pumping away somewhere inside that magic body which had created a human. The midwife assured us that the sound was as it should be, strong, regular, and most importantly, there.
We have plans, of course. Everyone in our situation has plans. Names picked, colors debated, the merits of this sort of upbringing or that. Plans make us feel like are somehow in control of the future. Mike Tyson was once asked by a reporter about what he would do about his opponents plans, “everyone has a plan,” he answered, “til they get punched in the mouth.” I don’t know when or how I’m going to get punched in the mouth, but maybe knowing that this little bambino will be the one to suckerpunch me makes it ok. My life has already changed in an amazing way and in 8 months it will change in ways I cannot even fathom. I trust the work I have done to become a good person, a person responsible to myself and the rest of the world will let Cara and I do a good job of loving and raising our baby.