Date: March 1, 2011
Age: 9 Months
You sleep on your back without a care. We call it “wild abandon”. The blanket has been thrown off to the side, your hands are above your shoulders and your bow-shaped lips have a perpetual half-smile. I place my hand on your tiny chest and feel the vibration travel up through my wrist, clenching my heart with a vise-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 existence as I was of mine.
At 12 weeks, one day before the next ultra sound, 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 the first “talk” 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.
The next morning, 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 little hug that kept me from dissolving into tears. We both felt helpless and afraid but in different ways. I was consumed with worry 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 lip until I could feel the pain. “Do you see that”? the nurse asked, and I looked at the monitor to see a tiny flower blossoming every few microseconds. I asked “Is that one of my organs”, felt instantly stupid and turned away again.
She moved the stick to another point on my belly and then just like that, there you were. It was feeble but ferocious – your heart filled the room with tiny little thumps and whooshes, like small sweet explosions that were churning an ocean. It was around us and inside us, it was your first hug and your first kiss, it was the first time we held you. That was your heart I was looking at – it was you . It would bloom with infinite promise and hope; disappear the next second, only to reappear again. It was beating at an extraordinary but perfectly normal 160 beats per hour. Everything was going to be ok from then on.
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. Every milestone happens at your discretion, you follow no textbook, no pre-defined manual. You do things at your pace, when you are ready, and in a way that makes sense to you. I hope that never changes.