At H's 15 month check-up our pediatrician heard a murmur. No big whoop, I thought. Until she said, "It's probably nothing, but I'd like you to have it checked out by a specialist."
In the weeks that led up to our appointment, I continued to mostly think it wasn't a big whoop because I know it's common and she probably just wanted to have us check it to be sure. And in the interest of not creating any suspense, I can say post-appointment that it's totally not, um, a big whoop.
H and I went to check out his heart the other day, only he didn't know it. What he thought we were doing was going to play with a radio that was--for some reason--at his level, steal toys from other babies' strollers, and play with the cord to a portable heater. (NOT ON, people, NOT ON. I only let him play with cords of things that are not on.)
When it was finally--after a good hour--our turn, the pediatric cardiologist came out to get us. He listened to the boy's heart. "Yep, he has a murmur," he said. Were there any health problems? Anything he has trouble doing? Anything that I'd seen that troubled me about him? Any history of heart problems in the family?
No. No. No. And I don't know--he's adopted.
"Of course," said the doctor. "Let's have a look at his heart."
And that was when it finally occurred to me that something could be wrong. I put my little boy down on the table, distracted him with a singing-dancing Elmo, and watched as the doctor got his chest ready for an EKG. It was only then that I thought, What if he sees something he's not supposed to see? What then?
On the sonogram machine, I saw an all-too-familiar image: insides lit up in a static-y white light. The doctor showed me what I was looking at: arteries, atria, valves, ventricles, chambers, my son's heart. It was beating fast and loud, like an amplified windshield wiper working overtime.
All those years of ultrasounds, searching for a heartbeat, came rushing back. The heartbeat they show you when the fetus is only a few weeks old is just this tiny blinking thing. An echo of a dot. It's miraculous because it's beating inside you but visually, it's not much to look at. But the heartbeat of a 15 month old is amazing. The hugeness, the detail, the black and white beauty of it. The fact that it's not going to slow down or vanish or merely end up a picture on your refrigerator that you finally take down when you've accepted that it's really gone. It was a great moment for me just to be able to look--shamelessly and with all the gratitude in the world--at H's heart as it did its work.
In the end, as I promised, there was nothing wrong--no abnormalities or defects. It's called an Innocent Murmur and chances are it will disappear one day. It's common in infants and children and won't restrict him in any way. We're all clear. On the way back from the doctor, I bought H a balloon because he loves them. It was really the least I could do for him after he had shown me his perfect heart.