Ritual Turns Us Human

 

“When we ourselves are empty, it is the ritual that turns us human.”  -Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

What used to be a once-every-few-days’ reassurance has now turned into a daily ritual.  I lather myself in coconut oil and listen for the baby’s heartbeat.

When I first bought the heart rate monitor, I really did not want to get to this place, where I would feel anxious unless I listened.  The other night, I tried so hard to tell myself that it was not necessary. But the anterior placenta and resulting lack of ability to feel much movement has led me to this place. Usually at night, when the rest of the house is quiet. I am now skilled enough that it takes under a minute.  Yesterday, I even felt movement just moments before, but couldn’t stop myself. I still needed to hear that heartbeat.  Today, I would hear a few seconds and then it would vanish and I would hear it again in a slightly new position – indicative of movement that I could not feel.

And yet, the other night, I was able to lie quietly on my back with my hand rested on my stomach, and feel a gentle kick from the outside.  Every day, it is a little bit more – though still inconsistent – but more definitive motions, strains, ligament pain. All signs I should take of a growing baby, yet I still listen for that heartbeat.

Today is Holy Saturday. The day between Death and Rising.  That in-between place, watching, waiting for the signs that there is indeed life after death.