The steering wheel sweat-slipped across my palms. I followed the printed directions to the hospital with my eyes and the manic directives of my heart with everything else, wondering if what I felt in my belly was a thump or the road or my head playing tricks. In my prenatal care sessions we stand together in a circle and hold hands, we repeat after the midwives and the social workers when they tell us to: I love my body, I love my baby. But that wasn’t what I told myself in the car on the way to triage after a day without a discernible kick or roll or five-fingered-punch. The word I used instead of love was trust.
Trust is what I tell myself I need if I’m going to be a mother. Hell, to be a human. I’m real good at putting my faith in other people, but I wouldn’t say I feel like I’m the most reliable, that my heart and head aren’t in the business of betraying me and everybody else. My blood pumps an unpredictable bridge between choruses; my nerves cry wolf.
This baby is taking after mama, intentionally or not. The fetal monitor had hardly hit my stomach before the hum-thump of his or her little heart tidal-tugged a smile on to my lips, tears from my eyes. After the requisite twenty minutes without a single contraction, the nurse said she had enough, but left the monitor on all the same. We’d tuned in to a good channel. Why turn it off?
When the midwife waved her magic wand and brought baby up on the ultrasound, she wasn’t surprised I hadn’t felt much in the way of movement. Baby sat cross legged like a little Buddha in my pelvis, head snug under my ribs. I’m glad at least one of us is totally zen.
But I’m thinking of a quote my aunt shared with me recently, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever your heart go walking outside your body.” I’m learning to be okay with that. I’m trying to trust this little person to take better care of it than I have.