I love waking up and remembering. No matter where I’ve been taken throughout the night – from the surreal to the whimsical to the horrors of loss and blood and hospital walls – I get to wake up and remember.
I’m still pregnant.
They say that your dreams are more vivid while pregnant. Perhaps due to just how much change is imminent in our awake-life, and how much our psyches are processing this shift into motherhood. Or perhaps it simply has to do once again with the pregnancy hormones that have made themselves at home in our bodies. My dreams take me for a wild ride every night, and every morning I am so thankful I get to wake up to this reality.
In the beginning, I had repeat dreams of being on roller coasters I wasn’t supposed to be on because I was pregnant. Dreaming of roller coasters was likely a humorous side-effect of being married to a man who works for Disney and taking one too many trips to Disneyland. But it was also an obvious metaphor for the ride I was about to embark on, and all the complicated feelings that accompany it after repeat pregnancy loss. The rides symbolized the loss of control I felt, and the fear that I would make the wrong decisions and jeopardize it all. Each night, I would find myself on a ride I thought was safe, only for it to speed up and take jarring turns and drops and I’d find myself screaming and clutching my belly and not knowing how to keep my baby safe.
Soon the roller coaster dreams faded and the loss dreams started. A few times a week, I would miscarry in the night. I would see blood, I would rush to the hospital, I would find out the pregnancy was over, that my baby was gone. Each dream formed it’s own heart-wrenching plot, but the ending was always the same. My heart would shatter and I would feel the same broken emotions that had been so familiar to me in my awake-life. The relief when I would wake up was so intense it would take my breath away. The realization would wash over me, swaddling me, like a warm blanket on a cold, shivering night: it was only a dream, I still have my baby, this is not like the others. I would instinctively clutch my belly for proof.
These loss dreams continued for weeks and weeks until they culminated in a dream that shook me so hard I woke up in the middle of the night sobbing. I dreamt I had been taken to the hospital. I can’t remember why or how I got there, but I found myself in a room surrounded by doctors and nurses. Somehow, without me knowing it and without my consent, the doctors decided to transplant my baby into the womb of another woman. They decided without my knowledge that the baby would have a better chance of survival with someone else. When I realized what had happened, I felt an indescribable shock as I realized my belly was empty; that where I thought my child lay safely was actually barren and hollow. Both literally and figuratively gutted, I started screaming. I felt shame and horror and heartbreak. I felt unworthy. I felt helpless and broken. And most of all, I felt anger. As a normally quiet and reserved person, I took on a new persona, and started yelling aggressively at the doctors, the nurses, and the woman with my child, one by one, demanding to know how this could happen. Just as I imagine I would do in my real life, should my child ever be in danger.
And then I learned, the baby would not survive.
The baby could not survive in the womb of another woman. And we watched as the heart rate monitor slowly dropped.
I woke up in the middle of the night with a gasp, and cried. I couldn’t shake the horror of all the emotions I had just so intensely experienced. I couldn’t shake the horror of all the emotions that I’ve experienced in my real life that had just haunted me in the form of a cruel dream. My heart stayed broken for the rest of the night, as I tried to nuzzle my way back to sleep, safe in the arms of my husband, safe in the realization that it was just a dream.
As I tried to process the dream the next day, I knew I could see the dream in two ways. As a broken woman, who felt unworthy of motherhood and damaged from the trauma of prior losses. Or I could realize what this dream was trying to tell me. That this baby belongs to me, and only I can keep him safe. Because I am his mother.
Soon after that dream we had our 20-week anatomy scan and since then I haven’t had another loss dream. I hope that continues, and that instead I’ll soon be dreaming of holding my sweet boy.
But still every morning, the joy of waking up remains the same. No matter where I’ve been taken in the night, every morning I get to remember. I’m still pregnant.