Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Pause that Changes it All?

Yesterday was my youngest son's 2 1/2 year well-baby check up.  It seemed to me pretty unnecessary--Kiefer is robust and strong, stocky and smiley, full of giggles and joy and pure love.  As a third child, he benefits from the always present, mostly positive example of his two older siblings.  As my third child, he benefits from my experience; I'm more able to separate the grain from the chaff.  Though sadly for him I'm really good at ignoring tantrums.
Meet Kiefer.

While his big brother and big sister were at school, Kiefer and I strolled, hand-in-hand into the doctor's office.  The wait was long, and we sat in our little waiting room, he on my lap, playing silly games--like pretending to hide from whomever we thought might open the door.  "Someone's coming!" I'd whisper urgently, and he'd bury his face in my shoulder.  I love when he plays really close to my face, just inches away, so I can see every millimeter of his perfect skin, the brightness of his blue eyes, the unevenness of my last trim of his hair.  I just breathe him in.  Pure love, this child.

Finally, the nurse practitioner comes in.  She's a harried lady, but kind and thorough.  We like her.  We chatted for a few minutes about Kiefer's overall health.  I had no concerns, though like every mom I wish he'd sleep a little more (exactly when I wanted him to.  what's wrong with that?!).

She reached for her stethoscope and began the exam.  She didn't get far.

She pulled up Kiefer's shirt and listened to the lub-dub, lub-dub of his perfect little heart.  And then she listened some more.  In fact, she just kept pressing her stethoscope into his chest again and again, listening very, very intently.  This is my third child--I know how long this part of the exam should take. Read: not long.

I took some deep breaths, this time not just breathing in my littlest guy but the ease of these moments, before the doctor spoke.  We've been so lucky with our health.  A family of five and all we complain about is a sneeze or a puke episode every now and then!  Lucky, lucky us.

Is this it? I began to wonder.  Is this the pause that changes it all?  What is she going to tell me?  How could anything be wrong with my child?  Even as I thought it, I knew that that is the exact thing that every mom thinks, even the less fortunate ones who get news of complications moments after thinking it.  Underneath, we are all kids with super hero capes thinking that we and ours are indestructible, totally immune to anything bad.

She looked at me.  I steadied and readied myself.

"He has a slight heart murmur.  It's nothing to worry about.  It's called a Stills murmur, and it is very, very, very subtle.  It shouldn't affect him at all in his life, just something to know about."

I thought I had breathed sighs of relief before in my life.  Nope.  They were nothing like this one.


  1. Omg. My own heart filled with fear for a bit reading this. Beautiful descriptive piece.

  2. Moments like this are truly terrifying. But, glad that the news was good - that it's just something to be aware of, not to have to run out and fix.

  3. I was holding my breath as I was reading this piece. I could picture the world around you running in slow motion as you wait for the news about your son's heartbeat. I am thankful that the news turned out to be something minor that will probably never affect your son.

  4. So glad everything is alright! You really had me trembling for a few moments.

  5. I wish doctors would be more cognizant of their moves and words to us. It can be terrifying.

  6. "Is this the pause that changes it all?" What a line!