Thursday, February 25, 2010
Though there are many things that I love about being pregnant (and some things I'm not so fond of), there is one special side effect that thrills me above all others: fetal movement. I'm twenty weeks now, and for the last half month or so my baby's kicks have gotten more and more regular and pronounced. I woke up this morning to a tap dance, and even as I write I can feel my little one exploring her tiny world. I still have serious panic attacks about this pregnancy and our fragile babe, but feeling those gentle nudgings helps. Thank you, Lord, for small miracles.
I was enjoying my last pregnancy this morning, and it struck me that I wrote an entire passage on "the quickening." A box of Summer Snow resides in my office closet, so I grabbed myself a copy and read the chapter entitled Quicken. Thought I'd share this morning.
From Summer Snow:
I felt the baby move for the first time on an unseasonably warm morning in the middle of April.
At first I didn’t realize what was happening. There was a flutter in my abdomen, a feeling like falling from a great height. A dip and turn deep inside me that caused me to reach out and grab the porch railing as if Iowa had just experienced the tremors of some far-flung, coastal earthquake and I needed to ground myself. I stayed there, splinters of peeling paint digging into the soft palms of my hands, and thought, We really need to put a new coat on the porch this summer.
And then it happened again. There was the faintest, cosmic beat of hummingbird wings at the very center of my being. This time, steadied by the thick cedar rail and quiet in my thoughts, I knew what it was.
I held my breath and waited to feel her once more. She didn’t disappoint, and a grin burst across my face to match the sunrise that I had witnessed only moments earlier. I laughed out loud and pressed my hands to my stomach, hoping to feel her there. Awed that she had finally made herself known to me.
I was twenty-two weeks along, give or take, and Dr. Morales had expressed only mild concern that it seemed to be taking so long for me to become aware of the child growing inside. However, I wasn’t worried. Grandma had bought me What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and it suggested that eighteen to twenty-four weeks was a perfectly acceptable timeframe in which to experience “the quickening.”
The quickening. I was dubious upon reading it, confused at first because I didn’t know what it meant and then downright skeptical because it seemed such a portentous title for something that was surely rather small and routine. But when she first twirled circles inside me, I understood that her inaugural movements were anything but small and decidedly not routine. She introduced herself to me with all the eloquence of a rehearsed speech, all the passion of a lover’s embrace. Surely the earth itself must have paused in its orbit to acknowledge the celestial movement at my core.
Suddenly, I very fully appreciated that there could not be a more perfect term for what I had just experienced than quickening. My breath quickened; my pulse quickened. My fingertips hummed with significance. Even the very life that coursed through me accelerated abruptly toward some distant goal and blurred forward with new meaning and purpose. It was indescribably exhilarating.
And it was the perfect morning for such a momentous event. The horizon was filled with the growing bands of a golden-peach sunrise, like a slice of fresh nectarine with the honeyed sun a glistening pit at its center. The earth below was yielding and warm; a green tractor across the field from where I stood dug a silver disc across its fertile surface and made hillocks and furrows of the rich, soggy dirt. Best of all, the scent in the air was of spring and newness. Everything seemed crisp and clean, ready for renewal.
*Copyright Nicole Baart, 2008