My life up until a few years ago rarely featured my heart. It showcased my sense of adventure, my need for freedom, and my conflicts over how to love in light of those things. There were many pieces of me on display, true. But the way my heart works wasn’t among those pieces.
In recent years, I have worked through yoga and through some soul-searching to open my heart, to accept and love myself in spite of my flaws (and because of them), and generally be more honest and authentic in recognizing what I need and what I want. I feel good about what I’ve done. It’s been a lot of work, and a lot of truly amazing reward. But, nothing so far has prepared me for this.
Today, I heard my baby’s heartbeat.
Via a monitor on my stomach, through some little speakers, this wildly powerful little chug-a-lug of a heartbeat shook me to my core. I’ve seen the little one on ultrasounds a few times, and watched the little flicker of his or her heart blink along in the sepia swirls, trying to see limbs or a discernible form. Today, though, hearing the little being within me thumping along made it all seem more real to me.
It’s been a few months (3 to be exact!) since Rick and I found out we were expecting. In that time, I have suffered barely any symptoms besides being a little tired and uninterested in eating. As a result, the fact that I’m carrying another human inside of me has at times felt unreal. I have been reading voraciously about birth, fetal development, and trying to absorb everything under the sun about this massive change which will soon be a reality in our lives. But, all the reading, diminished appetite, and the increasingly tight waistband of my pants has not really sunk in for me personally. That is, until today.
Maybe this will make me more protective of myself and my cargo, where I have otherwise been treating my life as normal – going rafting, hosting parties, riding my bike around, running, doing inversions and twists in yoga. Who knows? I recognize that pregnancy in many ways is a test in flexibility and managing expectations. Things can move fast, and even though I seek a healthy and safe pregnancy, that could change in a moment. As such, part of me doesn’t want to give up too much too quickly. I am trying to keep a good handle on my life, recognizing that there will be PLENTY of time for me to alter my life to accommodate another little member of our family soon enough.
What I have actually found to be the most noticeable part of being pregnant, for me, has been a very deep recognition of the incredible man who got me into this position. Comprehending the immense experience we are sharing together (be it as common as ever) reminds me of what I love about Rick. He is reading pregnancy books and following along with my apps that tell me what fruit compares to my baby’s size (lime this week). He listens to my every observation and constantly reminds me that I’m pregnant, and not getting fat. He busts his butt to keep up on the schoolwork to get his teaching certificate and just got a great teaching position, all the while doing daily projects on our adorable little house and managing a totally deranged little puppy. And when I come home from the office he, more often than not, has dinner cooking for me. He is coaching me back into running so that I can run a race in Aspen this summer, and he supports me in all the little things I ask of him. He is so truly a good man. And, I think in knowing I am bringing another human into the world his goodness gives me such hope and joy for the whole process. I am recognizing that this is an experience I can’t imagine with anyone else.
So, to bring this back full circle, let me finish this post on a point about the heart. Today when my heart cracked open a little bit as I heard thumping through a little speaker, I recognized that there is so much still to feel within me. At times I look at Rick or my puppy and feel like my heart will explode a bit, but today assured me that there is another threshold of love that I’ll soon be aware of. The vulnerability that comes with pieces of your heart being outside of your control is absolutely terrifying and incredible.