This I Believ
There it was— the pink line of success in the pregnancy test window! It had been almost nine months since I had seen the last one, and that line had not endured, had not embraced the world of possibilities around it. I vowed that this line would not perish and that it would manifest itself as a tiny blip of a heartbeat on a fetal monitor, one that had been undetectable the last time. I believe that human life is precious, from the first blip on the monitor to the last.
Two days later, the atrocious events of September 11th converged upon the world, making us question our very existences. I held on to that pink line of success, willing it to continue to prosper, even in a world of fear and terror. I remember trying not to become too upset, afraid that I might endanger the life of the child that grew within me if I fully immersed myself in the horrors of the time. I wept, but quietly, constrained by a protective survival instinct that pervaded my being.
Death surrounded me, surrounded us. I watched as countless families and friends searched in vain for lost loved ones in the aftermath of 9/11. I shuddered to think about all of the devastation those people must have felt, must still feel. And here I was, almost ashamedly, in the midst of it all, silently celebrating that I was pregnant; I had a secret life within me, growing in the shadow of destruction.
Weeks later, at my first prenatal visit, I saw a blip, again and again. That beautiful, miraculous, blip that signified that the baby within me was truly alive and well. However, in that particularly glorious moment, I could not help but flash back to the disappointment and utter despair I had felt nine months earlier when that blip did not appear; that embryo had not pulsated with life. I juxtaposed the two experiences, and found that seeing that repetitious blip was the stronger of the two; the loss I had experienced paled in comparison to the absolute joy I felt at the sight of the blip.
As my brother-in-law, John, a New York City firefighter, dejectedly continued to attend enumerable funeral services, I remained on schedule with my prenatal appointments. Each time, as the doctor listened for a heartbeat, I held my breath, wondering if she would have bad news for me. And each time, as I exhaled, I said a silent prayer of thanksgiving as I reveled in the rhythm of my baby’s heartbeat. At the same time, John was surrounded by a cacophony of funeral marches and mournful bagpipes.
Time passed, and that gorgeous blip was replaced by the triumphant cries of my newborn daughter. And now that I have my baby, my five-year-old baby girl (and four-year-old boy), and the world is still healing and fighting in the aftermath of 9/11, I am still celebrating the precious quality of life. This I believe is what I should be doing, what we all should be doing, even in the face of despair.
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