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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Signs of Life

My stomach felt firm today. It felt almost the way a pregnant abdomen should - tight and round and swollen. It's not the way my stomach has felt for weeks - soft and squishy, like the Pillsbury Doughboy's. It seems I noticed the softening almost immediately - the pregnancy test came back positive, and then my stomach went soft. I guess you could say that was the first sign of life.

The difficult thing about the first trimester of pregnancy is the absence of signs of life. The uncertainty that, yes, you are harboring a life within you. Sure, I've had food aversions and nausea and extreme fatigue. I've experienced the bouts of absent mindedness they say accompany pregnancy - I locked myself out of the apartment and left my wallet at Target on the same day. Surely these are signs of something, but life? They seem more to be indicators of my imminent and sure demise.

Nausea and fatigue and food aversions aren't enough. I want more certainty. And so at my pre-natal appointment, as the doctor runs the monitor across my abdomen, I silently, urgently plead: "detect a heartbeat, detect a heartbeat." And for a moment there is nothing, and the doctor mumbles something about sometimes not detecting a heartbeat until the 12th week, and then, there it is, the rhythmic whooshing of the Doppler, providing audible waves of relief. "It's a good, strong heartbeat," the doctor declares, and I like the sound of it so much I repeat it in my mind. A good strong heartbeat. There's an almost certainty in the detection of a good, strong heartbeat.

As a pregnancy progresses, the signs of life increase. I've already begun my nightly treks to the bathroom. At night I am surprisingly alert, and I find myself remembering my first pregnancy - living in a studio apartment in London, padding and then later lumbering down the glaringly bright hall to the community toilet. The toilet was in a room no bigger than a small closet - and the window was always open, leaving the seat cold against my thighs. And then back to our room, with the blue drapes that covered the window at the head of the bed, drapes that provided surprising insulation from the cold London nights and the ceaseless drone of ambulance sirens. I, with hands on the insulated incubator that was my stomach, would wait patiently for a sign of life, and then...

Movement. Such a curious, alien, wonderful sensation, to feel your baby move inside you. Such a certain, positive sign of life.

And so I wait now for those next signs of life, accepting my expanding waistline as assurance that the life within me is indeed still there. Even still, every now and then I find myself drumming my fingers against the tabletop, ta-tum, ta-tum, ta-tum, mimicking the rhythm detected by the Doppler, hoping that that heartbeat remains as constant and steady as my own.

15 comments:

Brian and Amy said...

Congratulations Kim! I am so excited for you.

Stacy and Mike said...

Well written... Beautiful!!! I am so excited for you and I'm glad you are in the States this time.

Cheryl and William said...

CONGRATULATIONS!! So exciting for you and your growing family. I wish you could have come to the high school reunion- just wasn't the same without you there

Marci said...

YEAH!!!!! I am so happy for you! Wow! I have been meaning to call you, now I know why! I will be calling you, or you should call me, and if we lived any closer I would say we should do lunch!

whitandjoel said...

congrats!!!

Daniel, Lyndsie and Makai said...

Congratulations! How exciting. That little heartbeat is the greatest sound. When are you due?

Mark said...

As nice as going to London seems, it doesn't seem like the most ideal place for a pregnant woman to live comfortably. I'm glad for Munster for you! I wish you were in SL with us now... We're in Murray. Congrats on number two! Does Henry get it?

Kristen said...

Congratulations Kim! I'm sure Henry will be so excited about having a another kiddo around.

jdm said...

I do love the way that you write.
CONGRATULATIONS!
I wish that you were closer.
When is the next visit?

sheri said...

YEAH!! Congrats Kimmy!! i am soo excited for you guys!!

The Beckstead's said...

Congratulations Kim! How exciting, we are so happy for you. Good luck with the pregnancy and I can't wait to hear about the progress & Henry's reactions to it all.

Kimberlee said...

Beautiful, Kim. I am thrilled for you.

janel said...

Oops. That comment up above was not from Mark, but Mark's wife. And what is cup of sugar??? A blog site reserved for an onslaught of pictures of baby Karras #2??

Dana Mania said...

Kim...hey, is Des (Almond) Dana! I'm so glad I found you thru Heather.
Congratulations are in order, I see! That is so exciting! I just had my second girl in May. Hope your pregnancy goes well.
I have a blog that is private and I want to send you an invite, so if you could send me your email at:
desdana@gmail.com
then I can send it to you asap!
Congrats again, and hope to hear from you soon!

katie said...

KIM! Congrats! I am so happy for you. I think of you and Henry often, and I am sure your new baby will be just as cute as Henry!