Sunday, October 4, 2009

Baby Dreams

(I haven't posted about my dreams during Noah's and Joni's pregnancies. I wrote this in response to a discussion topic in a support group I belong to.)

When I was pregnant with Noah, I had a dream he had died just a couple of weeks before it was so. I couldn't remember the details but I told my husband about it and asked him if we could try again if something happened to Noah. (Noah had been very unplanned and we had been in desperate financial straights - so we really had no business having another baby). He said "of course but nothing is going to happen to him."

Around the same time I was at a rummage sale and struck up a conversation with another very pregnant mom and we discussed due dates. I said "we're having a boy and he's due September 13th - but he's not going to make it." I checked myself immediately. What I meant was he wasn't going to make it to his due date because he was so big and I was having so many contractions - unlike anything I had experienced with my other two full term pregnancies. In the end both my slip and my feeling that he was a big baby and would come early were both true. He arrived at 37 weeks, big, healthy, but still.

On the day of his funeral we had family over to our apartment, an apartment we moved into only 4 weeks before Noah died. When they left, I walked into the kitchen and looked at the remains of the gathering on the counter - a half empty ginger ale bottle, a bakery box filled with bars from the funeral lunch, paper plates, plastic cups - and I deja vued back to the dream. I hadn't thought of it in the week since Noah's death, but the scene in my tiny kitchen had been part of that dream. I knew at some level the Noah was going to die.

In the last days of November, just three months after burying our son, I was pregnant again. Like many newly pregnant women I had lots of crazy dream. It was not new for me - I experienced crazy dreams with all my pregnancies. But as a babylost mom, the dreams seemed more macabre - which of course, given the dream in Noah's pregnancy, scared the crap out of me. The dreams escalated in intensity until one morning I had the loveliest/scariest dream about the baby I was carrying. She was a big happy healthy chubby dark-haired little girl who looked exactly like me. In the hospital I carried her on my back wrapped in a big native looking cloth - she was so big and strong. And then she smiled right at me with all her teeth - a big wide gap-toothed smile. I was so incredibly proud of her.

And then in the dream she started to wither away. I was showing her proudly to everyone, but I could tell she was slipping away and I knew it was because I wasn't feeding her. I tried to get her to nurse, but she refused. I tried to get the nurses to help me, but they were too busy. And so, in my dream, my big girl withered in my arms.

Interestingly I woke from that dream overjoyed that I was having a girl. I talked to my therapist (a rather wise hippie counselor) about it and asked if she thought I could be excited about it even though it ended badly. She said she thought the sad part was more about Noah than my new baby. And so I was happy about my baby girl (yes the baby is in reality a girl), but my worries about her "withering away" lingered.

As the days went by I had more and more dreams. One had me in the hospital again - asking for help and getting none - wanting to see my baby. They finally brought me my baby - one I was expecting to be dead - and then she opened her eyes and looked at me. I was confused and looked at the nurses and said - you brought me the wrong baby - this baby is alive but my baby is dead - he died yesterday.

The dreams continued like that until finally I had what could only be described as a nightmare. It was clearly about Noah this time. I was trying to bring him back to life - but he was dismembered and I couldn't do it - so I tried to bury him again - but I couldn't do that either - so he just laid there in pieces on the dirt.

I woke up in tears - sobs really - and stayed that way the entire day. I couldn't shake the dream. I decided I needed to go to the doctor to have my baby checked. Because so many of my dreams had been about seeking help from my primary doctor and not getting it, I decided to call an OB I had seen in the past instead. I explained my anxiety - just short of describing the dream - and was fit in with an NP who was very kind and reassuring. She did a quick ultrasound and the baby was still alive. I was happy, but not quite relieved. I asked her if they could run a progesterone test. She said there was really no need since the baby measured right on track and had a beating heart. But then she looked at me and I think she could tell I needed something more to be reassured and said - "well if it will help."

I was about eight weeks pregnant at this point. I had seen my regular doctor a week before because of a tiny bit of spotting. My progesterone was 21 which was low for me compared to my other viable pregnancies, but my doctor declared it "great". Now at eight weeks my progesterone came back at 9. I spiraled into panic. I was put on prometreum - 200mg per day. A few days later I had more spotting and cramping so the prometreum was doubled.
After that everything with my body - if not my mind - was calm. No more spotting or cramping. And although I remained a basket case during my waking hours for most of the pregnancy, the dreams never returned.

The pregnancy was not easy. There was much to give me pause even beyond the anxiety that seems to be part and parcel of a subsequent pregnancy after loss. Even after she was born things were not perfect. I've thought of the dream often - of my big healthy girl withering away - and wondered with each dip in the road "is this what it meant - am i going to lose her now?" In writing it all out though, I think it was about the progesterone - I think my body needed that little extra boost to keep her safe - and Noah was warning me.

Another funny thing about that dream: when Joninah was born, except for being a girl, she looked nothing like the baby of my dream - she was SKINNY! Now, at seven weeks she is that girl. Far from wasting with lack of breastmilk, she is an avid, sometimes ravenous, nurser with chubby cheeks, chubby legs, chubby everything! She is dark featured, and a quick look at her toothless gums seems to point toward a gap between her two front teeth - just like mommy, big sister, grandma, and great-grandma. Poor thing!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, you poor thing how hard that must have been. When I was pregnant with no 4 I knew something felt strange...I kept watching those birth shows and not thinking it was real.

    I wrote about my story on

    Thanks for sharing.