The Flutter of Hummingbird Wings

Because we’re down to only one car for the time being, I drove Sarah to her mid­wife visit on Wednesday. I didn’t think it would be any­thing spe­cial this time; she’s only at twelve weeks, and there had been no men­tion of it. She gave me that wife stare when I said I would wait in the wait­ing room, so into the exam­i­na­tion room I went.

The mid­wife entered the room a few min­utes later car­ry­ing a tri­corder. I mean, I’m sure it wasn’t actu­ally a tri­corder, but it had a lit­tle sen­sor attached to a box.

Let’s hear that baby’s heart beat,” she said. Sarah and I exchanged glances of surprise.

Okay,” we said.

The mid­wife lifted Sarah’s shirt and smeared on some gel. Then she began to search my wife’s stom­ach, prob­ing. The box squawked and squealed; each noise it made was like being jolted with elec­tric­ity. She hmmed and ahh­mmed. A few min­utes went by with noth­ing that sounded like a heart beat.

I hope it’s in there,” I said.

Sometimes its hard if the uterus is slanted, and the baby isn’t very big,” the mid­wife said.

And then the sound.

Have you ever heard a hummingbird’s wings against a win­dowscreen? Or per­haps a moth? At first, it sounded like that. Then the sound grew stronger. dub­dub­dub­dub­dub­dub. It was a tiny, frag­ile sound, but also strong, persistent.

It sounds healthy,” the mid­wife said. And then the sound went away. But this feel­ing remained that even now, I’m strug­gling to describe.

Has some­one ever praised you for some­thing, and I mean truly, truly praised you for some­thing, spo­ken with pas­sion about the great­ness within you? No–me nei­ther, really, but have you ever felt a mix­ture of pride and embar­rass­ment at a com­pli­ment? My face felt hot. My heart strug­gled to keep time with my child’s. And I felt the great­est mix­ture of awe and pride I have ever felt. Deep, abid­ing, pro­found pride. For a moment, I was absolutely con­sumed by a sin­gle emo­tion. The world fell away and it was Sarah, the emo­tion, and the sound.

It was one of the purest moments of my life. For that moment, I lived only in that place, with­out a thought for any­thing out­side those beige walls.

I cried a lit­tle, yes, but more out of shock than any­thing else. It has been so long since I have felt any­thing that new. That for­eign, that plain bloody strange.

The sen­sa­tion faded a lit­tle, but I couldn’t shake this grin that must have been plas­tered on my face.

Prior to the sound, the baby was hypo­thet­i­cal, really; the only real change in my life thus far has been liv­ing with a slightly achy, nau­se­ated Sarah whose boobs have become 25% more mag­nif­i­cent. It sim­ply didn’t feel truly real until that moment.

I’m doing a piss poor job of explain­ing it, I know. But I had to record this here. I know I have more moments like this, but this one was my first, and I want to remem­ber it for as long as I can. I hope I’ve given those who don’t have chil­dren some taste of the sen­sa­tions, and per­haps reminded those who do what that moment was like for them.

I say I want to remem­ber it, but there’s just no way in hell I can ever for­get it.

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