zen habits : breathe

The Simple Joy Of A Beating Heart

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Eric Hamm of Motivate Thyself.

The average human heart beats around 100,000 times per day. It’s one of the most common occurrences in our human existence.  And yet for Liz and I, hearing that tap-tap-tap was the only thing on our minds.  As we waited in that room, Liz on her back in that awkward position once again, the tension grew while we anticipated the findings.  We were 9 weeks pregnant and all we wanted in that moment was the assurance that our little baby was alive and kicking.

6 months earlier…
6 months earlier we were in exactly the same situation; excited to finally see the progress of our growing child.  This would be our first.  A first for many things, actually.  The first time we would go to Babies ‘R Us for a personal reason.  The first time we started thinking about where the crib would go.  And of course, the fist time I started worrying about diapers and preschool and all that a new baby brings to the table.  But these were wonderful firsts and worries that I could handle.  We were just happy that we were finally starting a family.

Here we were, 12 weeks into the pregnancy and awaiting the doctor’s entrance.  He assured us that today we should hear a heart beat; a sign that all was well.  Liz had to lay on that table in that vulnerable position while the doctor searched for the signs of life.

As the process finally began, we held each others hand as we awaited the results.  It didn’t take long, though, for me to realize that something was wrong.  The doctor was quiet as he checked and rechecked the same location as if to verify what he already knew.  I looked up at the monitor and saw just what I had feared…nothing.  The room grew loud with silence as I looked over at my wife.  Her face seemed blank as if unsure of the findings, but the tear running down her cheek revealed her true understanding.  I tightened my grip as if to say, “Hang in there.  We’ll get through this.”

The weeks that followed were filled with sadness and frustration.  All the plans we had made had to be put on hold.  My wife had to go through the struggles of postpartum depression without the benefits of actually having the child.  The whole experience came out of no where and left us shell shocked.

More common than you would think.
1 out of every 4 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage. A staggering numbering if you think about it.  And yet no one even mentioned this as a possibility.  It’s a subject that few like to talk about, so you find out through experience only.  It wasn’t until we actually had one that others spoke up.  All of a sudden we would hear, “Oh yeah, we had two miscarriages before we had our first child.”  Or, “I’m so sorry to hear that, we also had a miscarriage.  It’s quite common, you know.”

This is not to say that knowing before hand would have prepared us for the experience or that it would have softened the blow.  I just think that couples need to be aware that it CAN happen and there’s a decent chance it will.

Back to the present…
So here we are again, awaiting the same doctor to perform the same procedure.  Once again, he started probing for the signs of life as my wife and I nervously held our breath.  But this time, within seconds, the doctor burst out with his findings, “There it is, the beating heart of your little baby!”  I could feel the tension in Liz’s body evaporate as she took in the wonderful news.  This time when I looked up at the monitor I was greeted by a peanut shaped image with an amazingly powerful little heart beat; 175 beats per minute to be exact. :-)

What truly matters.
Earlier that day I had been concerning myself with all kinds of ‘issues’.  Worrying about the many things I had no control over.  I’m quite certain that my mind was focused on everything except those that truly mattered.  But in that moment, every one of those thoughts had disappeared.  One thing and one thing only concerned my soul.  It was the continued existence and good health of a fellow human being that captured my every thought and emotion.  Just knowing that life was still in tact was all I needed to rejoice.

Celebrate the lives of those around you!
The fact is, we shouldn’t have to be in such dire circumstances to appreciate the simple gift of life.  It is in every day living that our highest priorities should reflect those of ‘the anticipating father to be’.  So let go of your worries as they have no useful place in your pursuits.  Stop seeking happiness in things that do not matter.  Instead, be thankful on this day as you truly appreciate the simple joy of a beating heart.

For more from Eric Hamm, check out his blog, Motivate Thyself (or subscribe to his feed).



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