When I was pregnant, the overarching theme of those ten months, the focus, the moments that could ground me or send me into a panic, was heartbeats. It was that way from the very beginning. Did the embryo implant? Could we see the tiny heart beating at 20dpo? What about 22dpo? When we saw that first tiny flicker of Ivy's beating heart, it triggered such a confounding feeling of joy and worry, and it took weeks of followup ultrasounds and then Doppler uses before the worry mostly faded. When my heart rate started to go up a short time into the pregnancy, I'd sit as quietly as I could at the beginning of each prenatal appointment, breathing slowly and half-meditating, telling my heart to relax, but in the end it took medication (that I'm still on) and borrowing a blood pressure cuff from a friend to monitor myself every day. And then in the waning days of pregnancy, sitting for an hour at a time in the clinic's recliner, belted with monitors, knitting wool soakers to keep the minutes ticking away, listening to the quick heartbeat of someone I'd never met but already loved, already was so connected with.
Last night as she slept next to me, I spent a few moments (as I usually do) smoothing Ivy's hair and kissing her little forehead. I rested my fingertips on her belly and felt her slow, even breaths. And then I found her heartbeat, silent under my fingers (so unlike the amplified galloping I heard during prenatal appointments), beating delicately under her little ribs, and I realized that it may have been over a year since I last searched for her heartbeat. All of the prenatal appointments came rushing over me as I felt the tiny thump. So did how I felt during what was likely the last time I felt her heartbeat, when she was newly home, her tiny body between Cory's and mine on the bed, when I couldn't sleep for the disbelief and overwhelming emotion of having a REAL LIFE BABY after all these years and treatments and needles and days in the NICU. Every day I'm thankful for our miracle, but sometimes the littlest things are the greatest reminders of that.