The First Beat of my Second Heart

The First Beat of my Second Heart

The First Beat of my Second Heart by Natalie Graham

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When the doctor tells you that you’re going to have a hard time conceiving, you believe her.

When you’re holding a plastic stick that says (long before you could even wrap your mind around being ready) you’re pregnant…Well. You believe that too.

Although everything inside of me had rebelled against my doctor’s somber proclamation, and I had KNOWN that I would do whatever it took to be a mom, I was still totally and utterly thrown by this unplanned pregnancy.

They say you can’t plan for a miracle or for a surprise, but in those early days, I felt less bright and shiny and more doom and gloomy. I was the quintessential Type A personality- I had my plans, and a 12 step programme of how to get from whichever point to the Ultimate Goal, whatever the goal was, and absolutely no deviations were allowed.

First-Beat-640x427I’d love to say that as I sat there busily drafting new and improved life plans I was energized and infused with the maternal glow, but really what went down was days of weeping and moaning and sickness beyond any earthly malady. I was nauseated, I was bloated, I was fall-down-sleepy 24/7, and I couldn’t keep anything down except pure lime juice concentrate. Every single movement felt like I was working against gravity. Walking felt like a pirate ship obstacle course at full storm and I could frequently be seen propping up against walls every two seconds, trying to shake the fog from my head and the churn from my gut.

I was miserable. And even as I obediently swallowed my supplements and teas, I wondered what kind of mother I was going to be if I was struggling so much with this ‘bonding’ I’d heard about.

In my head, I had planned to be that mom who glowed from start to finish, and took daily photographs of the blossoming bond between mother and unborn child; I was going to spend days bathed in ethereal sunlight, blessed and beaming. I was NOT supposed to be this mom! Not this puking, groaning, green-faced wreckage!

The day of my ultrasound, I was queasy, anxious and something else I couldn’t define. The radiologist took in my conflicted expression with a small, knowing smile. As she rubbed the freezing gel over my tummy, she said quietly but confidently, “In a few seconds, you’ll see… Everything will be okay.” Then she ran the wand over my belly.

I lay there completely unconvinced by her encouragement.

And then came that sound. It was like I’d known it my whole life although I’d never heard it before. It sounded like heavy rain against a seaside roof; like wind on the hilltops. It sounded like life.

A heart beat.

That’s what it was, and that’s how long it took for me to become someone else entirely: a mom.

Suddenly there was never a “Plan A”. There was just There and Then. There was just him, and just me. And it was enough.

Although I intended to write about the bonding begun by those first baby kicks, for me the bonding began so much earlier than that. For this type A control freak whose shattered plans faded into memory within

A HEART BEAT.
…THAT’S HOW LONG IT TOOK FOR ME TO BECOME SOMEONE
ELSE ENTIRELY: A MOM.

I’d love to say that as I sat there busily drafting new and improved life plans I was energized and infused with the maternal glow, but really what went down was days of weeping and moaning and sickness beyond any earthly malady. I was nauseated, I was bloated, I was fall-down-sleepy 24/7, and I couldn’t keep anything down except pure lime juice concentrate. Every single movement felt like I was working against gravity. Walking felt like a pirate ship obstacle course at full storm and I could frequently be seen propping up against walls every two seconds, trying to shake the fog from my head and the churn from my gut.

I was miserable. And even as I obediently swallowed my supplements and teas, I wondered what kind of mother I was going to be if I was struggling so much with this ‘bonding’ I’d heard about.

In my head, I had planned to be that mom who glowed from start to finish, and took daily photographs of the blossoming bond between mother and unborn child; I was going to spend days bathed in ethereal sunlight, blessed and beaming. I was NOT supposed to be this mom! Not this puking, groaning, green-faced wreckage!

The day of my ultrasound, I was queasy, anxious and something else I couldn’t define. The radiologist took in my conflicted expression with a small, knowing smile. As she rubbed the freezing gel over my tummy, she said quietly but confidently, “In a few seconds, you’ll see… Everything will be okay.” Then she ran the wand over my belly.

I lay there completely unconvinced by her encouragement.

And then came that sound. It was like I’d known it my whole life although I’d never heard it before. It sounded like heavy rain against a seaside roof; like wind on the hilltops. It sounded like life.

A heart beat.

That’s what it was, and that’s how long it took for me to become someone else entirely: a mom.

Suddenly there was never a “Plan A”. There was just There and Then. There was just him, and just me. And it was enough.

Although I intended to write about the bonding begun by those first baby kicks, for me the bonding began so much earlier than that. For this type A control freak whose shattered plans faded into memory within a single moment, I lay on that bed with my eyes closed as I fell into the bars and spaces of the symphony within me, his heartbeat connecting his spirit to mine.

Whenever I think about “When I became a mom,” that’s the day I remember.

By the time his secret flutter-kicks began to bubble their tiny way through my system, he and I were already bonded. As he grew, his kicks moved from champagne tickles to much more solid thumps and whacks against his womb-home. Sometimes, as I sang to my burgeoning belly, I imagined us as roommates on opposite sides of a dividing wall, developing our secret codes. One kick for “hi”, two for “You okay?” Three for, “I love you.”

Every twist and turn and curl that I counted was another measure in my running countdown to the day that I would finally feel his fingers curl around mine, feel the heft of him against my chest, stare into his eyes, discerning the destiny in their depths.

When that day finally came, every contraction, every gasp and every squeeze of my husband’s hand was just an echo of our earlier kick-conversations, a glorious syncopation leading up to that singular, life-changing moment when my wonderful, beautiful, surprise child finally made it into my wide open, waiting arms.

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