Wonders: Hearing a Heartbeat, Fifteen Years Later

Zeke sonogramToday, I sat in a doctor’s office and heard my son’s heartbeat through an ultrasound machine for the first time in almost 15 years. Fifteen years ago, I was the one lying on a table having the sonogram, feeling both excited and somewhat terrified at impending parenthood.

This morning, my 14 ½ year old didn’t quite fit on the exam table; his legs and feet hung over the side. I don’t know how he felt as he watched his heart from every possible angle on a tiny screen, hearing that rhythmic swoosh, swoosh, swoosh, swoosh. But as for me, I felt… 

Amazed. There on the screen was the boy’s heart, beating. Pumping blood, sending oxygen, opening and closing valves (the valves looked like they were dancing—really!).

Grateful. Connected in time through a heartbeat, an office, a swooshing sound, and a boy to a different sonogram moment, fifteen years ago.

Moved. Thinking about my boy now, all stretched out, taller than I am—and my boy then, still a part of me; not yet fully formed; a tiny bundle of growing cells, hopes, dreams, and wonderings.


Jewish tradition offers a gratitude and awareness practice of saying blessings. There are blessings to recite upon seeing a rainbow, meeting a learned teacher, and smelling a fragrant herb or spice, among many others.

One of my favorite blessings—and the one that came to mind as I sat in that office—is the blessing traditionally recited after using the bathroom. Here it is, in Hebrew and in English:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר יָצַר אֶת
.הָאָדָם בְּחָכְמָה וּבָרָא בוֹ נְקָבִים נְקָבִים חֲלוּלִים חֲלוּלִים
גָּלוּי וְיָדוּעַ לִפְנֵי כִסֵּא כְבוֹדֶךָ שֶׁאִם יִפָּתֵחַ אֶחָד מֵהֶם
אוֹ יִסָּתֵם אֶחָד מֵהֶם אִי אֶפְשַׁר לְהִתְקַיֵּם וְלַעֲמוֹד לְפָנֶיךָ
.אֲפִילוּ שָׁעָה אֶחָת
.בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה רוֹפֵא כָל בָּשָׂר וּמַפְלִיא לַעֲשֹוֹת

“Blessed is God who has formed the human body in wisdom and created many orifices and cavities. It is obvious and known before You that if one of them were to be opened or closed incorrectly, it would be impossible to survive and stand before You at all. Blessed is God, who heals all flesh and does wonders.”

I thought that by the time of this writing, the doctor would have looked at the sonogram and called me to say that my boy’s heart looks A-OK, but…well, he hasn’t called yet. Most likely, the symptoms aren’t heart-related, but I’m listening to my boy and his doctors and getting everything checked out, just to be sure. For now, we wait, and walk slow.

There’s so much about this life—all life—that’s amazing. If we were truly aware, we’d bless every moment.

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