The Beat of the Heart

The Beat of the Heart #BISsisterhood

I will never forget hearing my baby’s heart for the first time. It was at my first pregnancy appointment with my doctor, around 10 weeks. “Let’s see if we can hear the heartbeat”, the doctor said, reaching for her doppler. Huh? I hadn’t expected to be able to hear my baby’s heartbeat so soon. I lay down nervously and anxiously. What if there was no heartbeat? The doctor searched for a few moments, which seemed like ages, with her listening device. Dumdumdum. A flicker of a heartbeat was amplified by the doppler. The doctor put the doppler back on that spot. Dumdumdumdumdum. That was it. That was my daughter. Dumdumdumdumdum. Throughout the pregnancy, that became a familiar sound at check-ups with my doctor. As the months went by, my nerves subsided and I looked forward to hearing our baby’s heart beat away, getting stronger and louder each visit.

Baby T was born last spring. Happy, healthy, tiny. So tiny. I look at her. I think of her beating heart. Did you know that your heart is about the same size as your fist? Her fist must have been the size of a small strawberry… Life is truly a miracle.

Recently we celebrated the solemnity of the Sacred Heart. I regularly listen to Catholic radio and on this day, there was an interview with three medical doctors who had recently visited Lanciano and had viewed the Eucharistic miracle.

I had never heard of the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano before. The miracle dates back to the year 750. A monk, who doubted the real presence of Jesus, was saying Mass. During the consecration, the host miraculously changed into heart muscle, and the wine turned to blood. The heart can be seen to this day in the cathedral in Lanciano. Studies have confirmed that the flesh and blood is of human origin. The blood type is AB, which matches the blood type on the Turin Shroud. Of course, believers should not need proof. This miracle is a reminder of what happens every time Mass is celebrated.

The host elevated at the consecration. I have a new perspective. I see Jesus Christ’s Sacred Heart. I hear the dumdumdum of a human heartbeat. I look up. Jesus I love you. Thank you for your sacrifice on the cross for our salvation.

This post is part of the Blessed Is She link-up on the theme of heart.

My First Mother’s Day

Umbert the Unborn Pro-life cartoon
Umbert the Unborn

This time last year I was 8 months pregnant. My husband bought me flowers and a mother’s day card thanking me for, among other things, the excellent womb service I was providing to our baby (see Umbert the Unborn for an explanation)!

I remember initially feeling a bit odd about receiving the gift and card. I didn’t have a baby in my arms and the world referred to me as a mum-to-be, but I was in fact already a mother.

When does motherhood begin? When the baby is in mama’s arms? At the start of active labour (as some insurance companies state)? At the first kick? At conception? When the mother decides?

Saint John Paul talks about motherhood in the period between conception and birth.

Mary’s words at the Annunciation – Let it be to me according to your word – signify the woman’s readiness for the gift of self and her readiness to accept a new life. (MD 18)

From the beginning, motherhood is linked in a very real way to the sincere gift of self. From the self-gift of avoiding contraception and being open to life, to all the little ‘gifts of self’ a mother makes before her child enters the world; taking prenatal vitamins and having a healthy diet to ensure baby is getting the nutrients she needs (oh the amount of oily fish I ate!), staying fit by going for a walk instead of lying on the sofa, the physical discomforts, which I won’t even begin to describe…

Western culture has little respect for the child in the womb. If I was a mum-to-be, then what was growing in my womb? A person-to-be? No. The little person in my womb was created in collaboration with God. I had said “yes” to life. A baby was growing and a soul had formed that would last for eternity. There’s nothing ‘to-be’ about that! So, while this may be my first mother’s day with a baby in my arms, I’m going to count it as my second!