Sounds Like a Baby

I am pregnant with my first child, and as any other first-time mother will tell you every step of this journey is littered with little discoveries. Something as simple as perusing a baby registry gets me thinking about all sorts of things that I probably would not have encountered ever in my academic career. (For example: what’s with all the bibs and outfits displaying “Daddy’s Little Princess” slogans? Gender studies, anyone?)

One of those new sites of discovery are my doctor appointments. At every appointment it seems like not much goes on: usually we discuss my overall health, new symptoms, and questions I may have. My doctor also monitors the baby through a Doppler instrument to make sure it is doing well inside the uterine home. For a few seconds, we are both very very quiet as we strain to hear a quickly beating heart. And then it’s there, clear as a bell: beatbeatbeatbeatbeat. Interestingly enough, very few people talk about this aspect of the pregnancy; they prefer to focus on the ultrasound, which is where you get to see a visual image of the baby. Is it because ultrasounds are so few and far apart in a pregnancy, or is it because the visual is the preferred representation of reality, of the concreteness of a thing?

My first encounter with my baby-in-the-making was the first trimester ultrasound. It was meant to certify the pregnancy; I had yet to see my OB at this point and didn’t know what to expect. It was certainly exciting to see this little kidney bean of a baby beating on the screen, and I couldn’t wait for the next one where I would see something resembling more a baby than a legume. In the meantime, at every monthly appointment my doctor and I would tune in to the little one’s heartbeat; every time I’d hear the quick palpitations I would secretly sigh in relief that the baby was still there. (I couldn’t feel the baby moving at this point, so the only evidence of the baby was my day-long nausea, tiredness, and belly popping out.) However, it wasn’t until drjsa told me I should record the baby’s heartbeat that I really thought about the magnitude of what was going on at each appointment. Sure, the ultrasounds are impressive (have you ever seen a baby on an ultrasound? It is beyond belief!) but listening to the baby’s heartbeat is the real indicator that all is well in there.

All of a sudden, it wasn’t the visual representation I was excited about, but rather tuning in every few weeks to that little heart beating inside of me. The ultrasound pictures are amazing and I’m looking forward to my third trimester ultrasound, but hearing that heartbeat at every appointment is the reassurance that the baby is still there. Sound becomes the manifestation of the baby. To hear is to know.

P.S.: I have yet to record the little one’s heartbeat, but I will soon find out how to do so and share it with you, the reader.


[Added by JSA on 5-7-10: Here’s our recording of Martin’s heartbeat, made fittingly on 8-8-08]

01 8_8_08 1_34 PM_ Baby’s Heartbeat

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7 responses to “Sounds Like a Baby”

  1. wendy stewart says :

    I love this post, Liana! (discovering, obviously, a little late). When I was pregnant with my daughter I heard for the first time a song that I think is called “Head to Toe”: “Got a little heart inside me beating/and with each beat it keeps repeating your name/ whoa-ohhh Sweet Baby/ don’t you know/ that I am yooooouurs from head to toe. . . .” Though the recording was likely fifty years old, I was convinced it was written for my baby and me. Still am, six years on ; )
    Hope you and yours are well and so thrilled to discover you here.


  2. gtra1n says :

    My wife is over five months along, and since we’re older she was having essentially weekly ultrasounds through the second trimester. And the very first thing in each session was sampling and measuring the baby’s heartbeat – always very strong and clear through the ultrasound equipment, and stunning and exciting as well. I’m not familiar with the doppler device your doctor is using, but with the ultrasound of course the first thing to get captured is the sound, the images require more manipulation. I always look forward to starting off with that fast bump-bump-bump-bump.

    For technical reference, iPhone OS 3 includes a VoiceMemo app standard, and personally I highly recommend the FiRE Field Recorder which does an excellent job just with the built-in mic.


  3. CZ says :

    You pose a really interesting question about visual vs. sonic representations and “realness.” Think, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” There exists this tacit understanding that “seeing is believing,” but sounds can’t be trusted (as if things visual can’t be false or misleading).

    P.S. I’m so excited for you!


  4. drjsa says :

    The most reassuring sound in the world, next to your voice, of course, resonating through your bones right into the womb. a sound bath.

    Two suggestions:
    1) Micro memo attachment for your ipod. . .turns it into a digital recorder.


    2) voice memo app for the iphone? there must be one!

    And then you just put it right next to that Doppler machine speaker and press record. . .


    • angbandking says :

      Heartbeat – why do you miss when my baby kisses me
      Heartbeat – why does a love kiss stay in my memory

      Piddle dee pat – I know that new love thrills me
      I know that true love will be

      -Buddy Holly


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