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In a heartbeat

The heartbeat is the sign of a life. We know this from biology class and watching re-runs of “Quincy M.E.”

That guy knew everything.

As for the humans they’re attached to, hearts are more than hunky, musclar organs. For our species, hearts are what we historically relate to in love through deep, personal connections pulsating through us like the blood they pump.

Really that’s via the brain, but don’t tell the heart I said that.

“While comics know timing is everything, babies don’t always follow step. From my recent experience and what other parents tell me, they call all the shots in the beginning of their lives.”

Couples know the feeling. That excitement of first meeting and the energy of attraction and mutual interest in each other’s cares and feelings that make the heart feel as if it’s figuratively skipping a beat.

Literally, that happens if a person has palpitations.

Singles experience the thrill of infatuation, too, in the rush of doing something alone for the first time. Say speed dating at a whiskey bar, ordering a pupu platter for one or paragliding off a mountainside. They can practically feel their hearts beating out of their chests.

The latter gives the best thrill.

In parenthood, heartbeats serve as gentle reminders for moms and dads to hear and feel the forever connection to their children through a timeless bond. In the last few days, my experience with my own unborn son’s heartbeat has generated a myriad of feelings I liken to emotional bipolarity. Sometimes in our room, when it’s quietest in the earliest hours of the morning, his heartbeat pounds from the monitor like a tribal drum, announcing his place in the universe. He’s like Helen Reddy singing “Hear me roar …” in “I Am Woman.” Except he’s a boy and more like a cub.

I imagine him giggling and whistling along to it.

I’m all across the board of motherhood feels this week. I’ve been scared, happy, concerned, relieved, strong, weak, tired, motivated, relaxed, disappointed and confident. I’ve been lost in these emotions all within a 48-hour window.

Throw in two days of a magnesium sulfate drip, antibiotics and steroids, and it’s a real party.

No matter the challenge, the familiar sound of his heartbeat through the monitor from the sensor strapped to my pregnant belly is like Beethoven to a symphony fan or audience laughter to a comic. It’s music, art, peace, love, assurance, relief, vitality, promise and life, all bundled up in a 130-beat-per-minute pulsation.

Life delivers like that.

The adventures in our nine-month journey to bring baby into this world now find us in the permanent hands of healthcare professionals. This week, my amniotic membrane ruptured early, at 29 weeks, just into my third trimester. Basically, my water broke.

But I would say it was more like a trickle.

So I, and the baby boy I’m calling Will after his dad’s middle name, William, and the valiant fight he’s waging to remain in the womb, are resting in a highly lauded Indy women’s hospital, bed-bound. We have an extended five-week stay ahead of us with doctors and nurses providing 24-7 care. Hopefully I’ll sleep, a luxury I’ll soon lack in my life, and the baby receives round-the-clock in utero care. Plus love from friends and family.

He is one lucky little cub.

While comics know timing is everything, babies don’t always follow step. From my recent experience and what other parents tell me, they call all the shots in the beginning of their lives. This one is already showing his strong will and resolve with a sooner-than-expected delivery in August. Who needs that last pre-parenthood trip to Colorado to see two dear friends marry under the mystic watch of Mount Sopris? Not us, apparently. All those planned baby showers will need to wait until after he makes his arrival. And Dad now has baby room-decoration duty, as we didn’t exactly get to that part yet. I’m not going anywhere outside of these four hospital walls, so I’ll have to trust him.

And his mom. And my mom.

To those dear friends, Liz and Jono, marrying this weekend in what’s sure to be a stunning celebration of two hearts becoming one in my favorite place, the Rocky Mountains, I’m sad to miss the fun. I know it will be the valley’s premier event of the year. I am happy their hearts beat in the same rhythm — I’m convinced of that, no matter what they do — and the fate of our separate friendships in Glenwood ultimately connected them in true love.

Jono was smitten from the start.

I wish the soon-to-be newlyweds all the love, happiness and little heartbeats heard and seen on monitors and felt up against their chest at feeding time. I hope they enjoy their big day with friends and family, including those who’ve traveled many miles to the mountains to celebrate.

And that everyone looks classy and dapper at their lovely summer affair.

Most of all, I want them to know there’s a little heart in Indiana beating strong as the drums at Mountain Fair for the commitment they’re making in Colorado. This determined kid already loves his Aunt Lizzy and Uncle Jono, and he can’t wait to meet them.

Maybe he will even introduce himself as Will.

April E. Clark is pretty sure this open-backed hospital gown is not considered dapper wedding attire. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail.com.


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