Soft Spot

By Lynne Nugent

October 30, 2017

Soft Spot

A few weeks into my second son’s infancy, I've noticed that when the lighting and angle are perfect, I can see his pulse on top of his head, at the place where the bones haven’t yet fused. Under the fine hair-fuzz, a nickel-sized patch of skin flutters in and out. It reminds me of that blinking shadow on my first ultrasound and how it thrilled yet undid me. Everyone talks about the sweetness of expecting a baby, but less about the terror at having created something so vulnerable. I spent each of my prenatal appointments barely breathing until the moment they swirled the Doppler through cold gel on my belly and relocated that rhythmic swishing. 

Once he was born, I missed the certainty the pregnancy surveillance had provided. Newborns do so many things—go glassy-eyed, roll their eyes back, fall asleep on a dime—that in the rest of us would be considered signs of an aneurysm. A winter baby who’s swaddled up and sleeping shows few signs of life; when he buries his face in my arm and seems to subsist without breathing, I seek out the pulse for reassurance. 

I know his skull will fuse and his hair will grow, and he’ll eventually become opaque to me in all the ways humans are opaque to each other. But for the moment, I’ve found what I need: semaphore, lighthouse, clock-tick in a quiet room, a telegraph tapping out in Morse code the message I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive.

Comments (13) - Post a Comment
Oh, this truly is a beautiful thing. What a stunning piece of writing—brava to you, Lynne Nugent.
Elizabeth Hilts at 9:07am EDT - October 30, 2017
You exposed the tension between love and fear so beautifully here.
Lisa McKenzie at 9:24am EDT - October 30, 2017
Lynne, first, congratulations! This piece is so compelling. Thank you for the way awe inhabits your words——tender, almost breathless observations laced with terror——daily, nightly, pulsing through your life, and his. And now mine.
Laurie Klein at 11:43am EDT - October 30, 2017
Stunningly, exquisitely authentic and evocative. Thank you.
Leah Silverman at 11:50am EDT - October 30, 2017
oh, I love this! Just right and so fleeting a time! Thank you.
Julie Lambert at 1:06pm EDT - October 30, 2017
Truly powerful, visceral, lovely.
Kate at 1:51pm EDT - October 30, 2017
gorgeous!
martha mclaughlin at 2:15pm EDT - October 30, 2017
My one-and-only "baby" turns 22 this week, but your words instantly took me back to being pregnant and a new mother. You captured the feelings I felt exquisitely. Thank you!
Gladys Strickland at 6:56pm EDT - October 30, 2017
I love this line so much!!! "I know his skull will fuse and his hair will grow, and he’ll eventually become opaque to me in all the ways humans are opaque to each other." Nice piece!
Deb Cohan at 12:16am EDT - October 31, 2017
This takes my breath away. Our children do become opaque to us. All the best on your journey as a mom.
Mary at 9:38am EDT - November 1, 2017
Thanks everyone! What a supportive community of readers!
Lynne at 10:46am EDT - November 1, 2017
So beautifully said.
Michele Schoenfeld at 1:51pm EDT - November 1, 2017
Thank you for such beautiful thoughts and observations.
Jennifer Lang at 4:55am EST - November 14, 2017


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