This week, I had a pregnancy-related dream. It has been a long time since those types of images have invaded my sleep, so when I awoke I was shaking and unnerved.
In my dream, I was in labor and at the hospital. I kept insisting to the doctor and nurses that something was wrong. My arms were cradled around my pregnant belly, and I was crying, saying, “The baby is too small.” Everyone kept assuring me that things were fine, normal. But as I cradled my nowhere-near full-term belly, I knew.
In the dream, I finally started screaming that the baby wasn’t moving. A doctor came over and did an ultrasound, only to find what I was dreading: the baby had no heartbeat.
The dream version of myself had no reaction. I’ve had dreams in the past where I immediately start sobbing upon hearing the news that my baby had died. Not this time. Perhaps because I knew. Perhaps because I woke up before I could fully react in the dream scene.
I woke in the morning and shuddered. This dream wasn’t like others — where the scene is a familiar one. In this dream, I was surrounded by unknown doctors in an unfamiliar hospital. It was less of a flashback and more of a new scene, one pulled from my experiences with pregnancy loss. “The baby is too small” was likely triggered by Nelle, who was growth-restricted. And knowing that something was wrong came from my months of pregnancy with Iris, where I couldn’t shake the feeling of dread I had.
I know what triggered that dream. Earlier that same day I had been giving Autumn a bath and she was talking about how “babies come from mommies’ tummies.” She knows that she came from my tummy. And she was talking about other babies, like her baby cousin, and where they came from.
She has moved into the, “I am a big girl” phase of her life. And it’s true — she will be five in August, entering kindergarten. As she talked about being a big girl and babies, I stared into her round, inquisitive face. Five. Nelle would be seven. I looked at her dark hair and dark eyes, knowing that Nelle would likely have the same features. For a fleeting moment, I imagined a 7-year-old instead of a 5-year-old.
But then I shook my head, trying to erase the thought. If Nelle were here, Autumn wouldn’t be here.
And later that night, the dream.