Photo: Heller family photo

Music was the first way we actually communicated with our children. While pregnant, I could feel them moving differently based on whether I was playing guitar or my husband was playing piano. When we sang, that changed things, too. I found that they tended to slow down their movements in the womb if I began to sing and often moved around even more as my husband sang, almost like they were looking for him. Unless it was night time…when I got into bed each night, my husband would sing a lullaby right next to my belly and all movement settled.

During my first pregnancy, I fell. I was about 24 weeks along, so the lack of movement after my fall was disconcerting, to say the least. After doctor phone calls and several hours with nothing, I was getting ready to call the doctor back when I decided to pull out my guitar. Gently strumming, clear vibrations at my belly, I began to sing one of our family favorites and soon enough he was dancing along.

My first delivery was via unexpected c-section, so my husband was the first one to hold our son. The moment he began to sing, Zeke stopped crying and just stared at his dad. It was incredibly powerful. I’m certain he recognized the voice and the song.

They loved music and it was an avenue for them to learn so much—balance, sharing and turn taking, emotional expression, language (spoken and signed)—at 10 months when Zeke’s mobile stopped playing, he signed “More music.”

There was such awe and beauty and intense love being a new mom. But we all know it’s also a constant challenge to be a parent. I had to keep them healthy and safe and dressed and eventually have them ready for college… (Okay, baby steps…!)

Having an active toddler while pregnant was exhausting at times, but Zeke took after his dad and often sang to Ossian in utero—I wish I had video of that, but I can still hear his sweet voice! Bedtime wasn’t ever easy—both my boys nursed to sleep and then still often needed to be held in order for successful separation—gradual separation—sound asleep separation…

And they didn’t always want our songs. We thought Zeke was enthusiastically applauding us one night—or asking for more—before we realized it was actually his emphatic sign for ‘stop!’

Our boys are both musicians—just for fun; one plays guitar and one plays drums. We jam as a family now and then, but mostly they play on their own or with friends. Our focus has shifted from diapers to boxers, from toddlers to teens and from home life to college. Spoiler alert—it gets harder as they get older. Yet it’s also exciting and rewarding, even when you wonder how your adorable, affectionate, soft little angel has become hairy and muscular and rude.

But when I can’t think of anything else they’d want to talk about (I’m not always up to date with sports statistics and such), we can always talk about music. It was, after all, our first means of communicating and will somehow remain essential to each of us in our journey together and apart.