I spent the first few weeks of my pregnancy terrified that something would go wrong. And when I had first prenatal appointment and the physician couldn't immediately find a heartbeat, my mind automatically went to the worst case scenario. Then, suddenly, I heard it: that impossibly fast beating. I was so wrapped up in the moment, it never occurred to me to ask my husband what it was like for him. It turns out that the moment he heard our baby's heartbeat for the first time was a huge relief for him, too, and made my pregnancy seem more real.
I knew I was pregnant before I ever peed on a pregnancy test, so my pregnancy felt real from the very beginning. I mean, it's hard to forget when you're dealing with unrelenting nausea and utter exhaustion. It was different for my husband, though. Because his first wife had lost her first pregnancy, and he’d been there when the doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat at 13 weeks gestation, he was understandably worried. He doesn't often talk about how hard that experience was for him, but when my OB-GYN was trying to find a heartbeat I know my husband experienced everything from fear, to hope, to joy, and in a matter of seconds. He was just as reassured as I was.
When I asked other dads to share what that moment was like for them, I heard stories that were very similar to my husband's. Most of them found the experience to be wonderful, amazing, and a little weird... all at the same time. You know, kind of like pregnancy itself. For a glimpse into the thoughts, emotions, and first impressions of that indescribable first listen at their baby’s heartbeat, read on. (You might want to grab a box of tissues before you do, though.)
"It was cool. Amazing. It made it so much more real."
"Every time I got to hear it, it was so reassuring. It reminded me that she was forming this life with her own body and it made me want to do anything possible to help get her through the rough time."
"We suffered from infertility for two and a half years, so when I heard that heartbeat it was magical. What was even more magical was when we went back two weeks later and heard two heartbeats. Surprise!"
"We heard the heartbeat at around 10 weeks. We lost our first after a year and a half of trying. It took another year and a half for her to get pregnant again. When she started bleeding, we rushed to the ER. They listened for the heartbeat and I wept."
"Oh sh*t, this is real... but totally in a good way."
"It sounded like water sloshing in a bucket — maybe alien-like. It sounded cool."
"We used a gestational carrier. My partner and I heard our sons’ heartbeat for the first time together. We both cried."
"It was a delight and a relief to hear our baby's heartbeat for the first time. Having that tiny touch point really helped me remain calm and share that calm with my wife throughout the rough patches of the pregnancy."
"It was the most miraculous and beautiful sound. I couldn't relax at any appointment until we either saw or heard both of the boys' hearts beating. We had an ultrasound with my wife's first pregnancy where our baby was completely healthy and then, in the second trimester, her heart stopped beating and we only found out at an ultrasound. It was unexpected and heartbreaking to have that silence. I had the twins' heartbeats recorded and saved on my phone, inside individual teddy bears and on our hard drive. I cried the first time we heard the heartbeats at the same time and almost in the same rhythm."
"It was a really important point in the pregnancy and in my life. It made it feel real. I just felt joy."
"It was humbling. It really was. It was such a life-changing thing. For me, the heartbeat was a lot more impressive than the ultrasound or anything else leading up to that point. The heartbeat solidified it for me."
"When you first hear your child’s heartbeat, it’s the moment that everything becomes real. At that point you fully commit to being as good and as enriching as possible for the little human you are creating. You actively choose to put that person’s life and well being before yourself. That first sound is the start of the bonding process that will link your lives together forever. A celebration of the love you had and the love that will continue to grow outside of their mother's womb."
"As a musician and a drummer, I commit rhythms and beat-patterns to memory. The first time I heard the speedy little triplet beat of my son's heart, I was not taken aback, but my breath was taken directly from my body."