When I was a kid, every time our family adopted a puppy my mother would create the same set up: a small bed and blanket with a heating pad and ticking clock tucked underneath. She said the clock would remind the puppy of his mother’s heartbeat and sooth him. I’d think of him searching for his mama during the night only to find a clock as a substitute for her heartbeat and wonder if that would suffice. I’d wonder when he would stop searching for the comfort of her beating heart, if ever.
Of course, all puppies grow up and learn to search for other things.
I think about my baby boy soon to be born and how it might feel to fall asleep with him heartbeat to heartbeat. I think about how he eventually won’t need my heart so close. He’ll grow up and seek the heartbeats of others, fall in love, and get his heart broken, all while longing to get back to the space where hearts beat in unison.
In the first trimester, I began to feel my heartbeat in my belly. At the end of a yoga practice, I prepared for savasana letting one hand rest on my heart, while the other rested on my solar plexus and I felt something new. I lifted my head and peaked at my still flat(ish) stomach. My heartbeat was so strong that I could see it through a thin layer of cotton. There it was, my own pulse in my belly – a strong and steady flow taking oxygen and nutrients to the little bean growing inside, growing his own beating heart.
Believe it or not, the heart of an embryo starts beating around day 21 of a healthy pregnancy. Remarkable. I recently got to see his heart and all four of its chambers up close during my 20-week ultrasound. It was amazing. Just beating away as he rolls and kicks in there, pondering life. Tucked deep inside my body, this tiny boy is becoming intimately acquainted with my every movement, impulse, and flow. Learning the rhythms of his own heart beat while dancing to mine. Our heartbeats falling in and out of sync with each other, echoing throughout one body.
And then he’ll be born.
On deciding to have a child, Elizabeth Stone said, “It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” (Tweet that!) So I wonder if this is the journey we all go through – learning to live without feeling the heartbeats of our mothers, never realizing that her heart lives within us. Learning to be content only hearing our own until we find another that matches it, a heartbeat we can’t live without. I wonder when I see him running around outside my body if my heart will notice. I wonder if I’ll feel the tear of too much distance between our two heartbeats. I wonder if my heart will fill when he falls in love, if it will break when his hurts.
I wonder if this is the dance that all mothers must dance.
I guess I’ll find out.
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