There's nothing in life like going for a prenatal check-up and hearing your baby's heartbeat for the first time. It's awe-inspiring and invigorating at the same time. And after you've heard the evidence of a little life hidden away inside of you once, the promise of hearing it again keeps you excited and focused month after month.
That heartbeat is one of the few connections you have to your unborn child so you listen deep and hard at every OB check-up, making the most of every second. Once the baby is born, however, hearing the heartbeat is no longer a priority because you can finally see your precious newborn. Instead of listening intently to the heartbeat, you're listening to him breathe and cry, you gasp at his every sound and carefully inspect every inch of his tiny being- from head to toe. It's rare to hear the heartbeat again after he's born.
I am blessed to have gone through this mind blowing journey seven times. Through seven pregnancies, each just as exciting as the first, I was able to feel connected to my child by hearing those racing thumps being amplified on the Doppler tool that's on my swelling belly. There was one pregnancy, too- my eighth- that came with all the same anticipation as I went in for my first appointment to hear those heart tones. I left that appointment heart broken beyond repair after learning that there wasn't a heartbeat. So I know the emotions that run with the absence of the rhythm, too.
All this came to mind as I was washing dishes late one night while my littlest ones were sleeping peacefully in their cozy beds. Suddenly it hit me that I had this soon-to-be-adopted son and I had never heard his heartbeat! Of course, I didn't get to feel him grow inside of me, carry his weight inside of my womb for the better part of a year or, with purposeful pain, push him into life and those things I can not change. But his heartbeat? Well, it's been there all along and I had never heard it. Sure, I see the evidence of the blood pulsing healthily through his veins as he plays, sleeps, dances and yes, even as he screams. But I had never actually heard it.
I stood at the sink stunned, dropped my dishes, dried my hands and headed for his room. Tiptoeing quietly, I navigated through the toy maze and made my way to the side of his racecar bed where he was lost in sweet dreams of motorcycles and mac n' cheese ('cause he loves them both). I slowly laid my head down on his little heaving chest and tuned in. Ahh. There it was. That heartbeat. There all along but only audible when I slowed down, tuned in and listened. What a joy to hear it! And now what a joy to know that I've heard the heartbeats of all of my children- except the one in heaven- and I'm thinking that I'll have to repeat this scene with that one too... when I get there.