I place my hand on your tiny chest and feel the vibration travel up through my wrist, clenching my heart with a vice-like grip. Your heart beats almost twice as fast as mine – twice as happy, twice as energetic, twice as important. It is soft and gentle, but imperative. I can feel your sense of urgency under my hand.
Urgent – that is your underlying premise in life.
You wait until the very last moment and then express your needs with an urgency that is alarming and satisfying at the same time. You will not sleep unless your eyes are drooping shut, you will not drink a single ounce of milk until the pangs of hunger hit with a vengeance. And when it does you abandon all caution and let the world know that you need something right away. It’s urgent, it must happen now! All our carefully constructed plans fall apart as we scramble to keep pace with you and realize that despite being a very tiny 7 pound infant, you have the vocal chords of a dramatic soprano.
You were not always like this. There was a time when you didn’t hurry up about everything, when you were content to let things take their own time.
I was 6 weeks pregnant when I started to bleed and we went to the doctor, even before I was due for my visit. There was only one thing I needed from you then: a heartbeat. All you had to do was show yourself and then go back to the warmth and comfort I was happy to provide. For some reason, you weren’t ready. I knew you were in there, but you didn’t let me hear or see you. We went back at 8 weeks and there was still nothing. By now everyone familiar with the textbook version of events was trying to tell us that we were wrong. That you didn’t exist. How could they know? How could anyone know the truth except you and me? The truth was that I was as sure of your presence as I was of my own existence.
At 12 weeks, one day before the next ultrasound, I decided enough was enough. I returned home from work, sat in the car in the driveway and talked to you for a very long time. I told you that you were being unreasonable, that you had no right to worry me like this. That was one of the first talks we ever had. I didn’t yell, I didn’t cry, but I was very angry with you, and overwhelmed with fear. I felt you needed to hear the despair in my voice.
In a tiny, claustrophobic room with blinking lights and wires everywhere, the nurse typed away on the ultrasound machine with one hand. Appa had his back to me because he was staring at the monitor, but the warmth from his hands on my ankle was like a tiny little hug that kept me from dissolving into tears. We both felt helpless and afraid but in different ways. I was worried about you; he was worried about you and me.
I really wanted to see what the nurse was typing. What if she made a mistake and typed something that caused an incorrect reading? Did she know what she was doing? Should I have checked her credentials first? There was nothing on the screen, no one. I turned away and bit my lips until I could feel the pain. When I looked at the monitor again I saw a tiny little flower blossoming every few microseconds. It would appear and then go away. “Do you see that”? Chirpy nurse asked. I said “Is that one of my organs?”, felt instantly stupid and turned away again. She moved the stick some more and then just like that, there you were. That was your heart, like a tiny little flower. It would bloom with infinite promise and hope; disappear the next second, only to reappear again. You heart was beating at an extraordinary but perfectly normal 160 beats per hour. The sweet thump thump reverberated around the room like a series of tiny explosions, each one telling me that from then on, we were going to be just fine.
We have talked ever since, and I know that you can always hear me.
A few months after that, when it was time for us to meet, I was induced. But you refused to budge. 27 hours of labor later there was still no sign of you, and we had to move heaven and earth to bring you into this world.
This is who you are even today. You march to the beat of your own drum, you will do things at your pace, when you are ready, and in a way that makes sense to you. I hope that never changes.