"Sometimes I wish I knew the nature of night thoughts. They're close kin to dreams. Sometimes I can direct them, and other times they take their head and come rushing over me like strong, unmanaged horses."
--John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
I know the nature of my night thoughts. They emanate from a tiny demon that likes to laugh at me when I'm too drowsy to fight off irrational anxiety. Perhaps the demon is not real, but that is how I picture my anxious brain. I think somebody somewhere must be laughing hysterically as I try to wade through the desperate illusions in search of concrete reality.
Which is to say: I've been having trouble sleeping. When I awaken in the darkness, my brain plays out all the irrational (and rational) stresses that are plaguing me just below the surface during the day. I struggle toward wakefulness to cast out these fears, but my body resists: Sleep! Sleep!
My inner demon has lately been whispering to me all my fears about this pregnancy. It alternately made me terrified of miscarriage and terrified of having FOUR children! I got out of bed grumpy and past my breaking point. My morning was scheduled to the minute until my first obstetrician appointment. I was sure that they'd have to give me terrible news.
When I arrived, the nurses welcomed me by name and told me how excited they were that I was pregnant again. My doctor put his arm around me and told me how much he loves being my doctor. I told him he must have forgotten my last pregnancy and he assured me that it is difficult patients that get under his skin and never difficult pregnancies.
I vocalized all my fears and anxieties and my doctor reassured me that I had all the right symptoms of pregnancy and my uterus was measuring at just the right size. They took me back to the ultrasound room and within moments of starting the procedure, the nurse exclaimed, "There is the heart!"
And then I heard it. I was unprepared for that little thumpa-thumpa-thumpa that means life. I couldn't help it: I cried.
If I cry when I watch "The Biggest Loser" or "The Apprentice" (for heaven's sake!), you can bet I'll cry when I hear my baby's heartbeat.
If I cry when I drive past a traffic accident and think about how somebody's life just got turned upside down, you can bet I'll cry when I realize there is a living creature, with a heart independent of my own, that has just turned my life upside down.
That little heart beat, coming out of a little tiny human bean, washed away all the anxieties and fears. Life is good.