kind of like that dream where you step onto a stage and realize you’ve forgotten to put on pants

In my dreams I give birth and miss it. Baby in my arms, I wonder how I could possibly have missed/forgotten the entire labor. I would call it wishful thinking, but I’m not sure that’s it. I’m really excited about the birth. Excited to finally know what a real contraction feels like; to be in our Wagen (fingers crossed) going through labor with the Beard, Frau Doktor, and the most badass midwife of all time to help; to finally meet Peanut. It’s going to hurt, it’s going to be intense, and maybe everything will go wrong and I’ll end up being shipped to the hospital in a mad panic—yet, I’m still looking forward to it. I’m sure a number of you are already mentally banishing me to the looney bin as you read this, but I’ve always loved diving into the kind of intense experiences that change you, that make you feel like a superhero for having managed. Even if those experiences aren’t always pleasant at the time.

The dream appears to be a common one among the pregnant. My guess is that our brains, pre-first-child, simply can’t fathom what labor and birth will be like. Or maybe they are protecting us, making sure we don’t get too scared and assuring us that once it’s over we’ll barely remember anything about the pain at all. Because we’ll be totally in love with the little wrinkley bundle we’ve created and released. And we all know that falling in love is one of the best ways to inspire amnesia, to dim all the background noise that would otherwise be distracting us with everyday pettiness.

My anxiety dreams have remained singular—there has only been one. Once again, Peanut arrives, and once again, I miss the birth. But laying on a couch with Peanut I suddenly remember that I haven’t pre-washed the cloth diapers yet, the diapers whose instructions say to pre-wash three to six times before use. Nothing else happens and the panic isn’t as bad as that of the nightmare that follows (make the room I’m sleeping in too hot and I’ll always have a nightmare), but upon waking I finally sorted the diapers out of the meter-high pile of baby stuff on the bed in my Wagen and put them in the machine. Now all the fodder for the anxiety that remains is the folding changing table/shelf combination that I still haven’t built in the red Wagen. Anybody want to drive me to the building supply store?

I’m curious: All of you who have been pregnant, what sort of dreams did you have during your nine months? And to the never-been-pregnant (including the dudes) have you ever dreamt that you were? What do you think the missed-birth dreams mean?

0 Comments on “kind of like that dream where you step onto a stage and realize you’ve forgotten to put on pants

  1. My wife is 21 weeks now but hasn’t reported any strange dreams yet.

    We listened to Jenny McCarthy’s “Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth about Pregnancy and Childbirth” audiobook – and she reporting a recurring dream where she would perform a self-cesarean, pull her baby out, play and talk with it, and then put it back in and sew herself up. And Jenny said she LOVED that dream. Seems a bit frightening to me?

  2. I had a lot of ‘panic’ dreams when I was pregnant with my first. I have four now. Gulp.

    It will change you. Beautifully.

  3. My youngest is 8 now, and I still sometimes have dreams about giving birth. Make of that what you will. It’s a pretty damn intense and archetypal experience, so I guess it makes sense that other anxieties and themes cluster round it. First births can often be tougher than subsequent ones, but sounds like you’ve got a good team around you, so all the runes are good.

    Just wait for that moment when you hear a series of loud, primitive, soap-opera stylee groans and think, “Gosh, somebody’s making a hell of lot of noise”, before realising that it is in fact you bellowing like a cow in pain. But I was at the time giving birth to a 10lb baby in 15 mins flat with no pain relief, so I think making a bit of noise is fair enough, really.

    It’ll be fine.

  4. I have had four pregnancies: In every one my dream was basically this: I’ve already had the baby for a few days. But I go about my life as I always did. Then all of a sudden I remember: THE BABY!! I FORGOT I HAVE A BABY!! Then, frantically, I search the entire house and find it. Luckily it is still alive even after being ignored for 3 days. I then pick it up and feed it and everything is okay. I think these dreams had to do with my anxiety over whether I would be an adequate mother. But I was a good mother and I have four wonderful adult children who are the light of my life.

  5. Peter: I actually like the sound of that dream too. Don’t know why. Just seems interesting to be able to take the baby out and put it back in as you will. Would make child care a hell of a lot easier. Heh.

    Sarah #1: What did your panic dreams center around?

    Freya: And did you dream about the birth in detail beforehand? I am curious to see what kind of noises I end up making. A lot of the folks I live with are all like, oh no, and then we’ll hear you screaming and it will be horrible to have to wait outside and not know what’s going on. And then I always tell them from what I’ve heard and seen videos of, that cow and lion noises are much more probable.

    I’m confident that whatever happens that it’ll be good too. My panic seems to revolve around not getting all the stuff ready in time. Which, if it really does happen, really won’t matter anyway. So I feel pretty ok about that too. And I am SO looking forward to having my body back to myself again.

    Sarah #2: Ooh I’ve heard a lot of people talk about having that dream. I feel like I might have had it too, sometime at the very very beginning of the pregnancy, but now I can’t really remember. It’s been blocked out by my favorite baby dream so far, where I have a baby, put it down on the bed, turn around, and turn back to find I have actually given birth to a raccoon, a really happy friendly fluffy raccoon. Have had a lot of dreams about the baby just running around (being maybe a year and a half in most of these dreams) laughing and laughing and laughing. Those were pretty good too.

  6. i dream that i’m pregnant or breastfeeding fairly often. i can’t remember ever having a dream where i’m actually in labor. & i dream every once in a while about OUR CHILD, the momentous nature of that. those are really special.

    i always loved hearing my mom’s pregnancy dreams. in one the doctor cut her big belly open & served soup from it with a ladle. i love the ones with crazy baby names; have you had any of those?

  7. I didn’t have any crazy pregnancy dreams, but did have a couple similar to Sarah #2’s. But I’ve always had dreams like that since I was a child, except that it was a pet I accidentally left in a room and forgot to feed or something. Oh how awful (shudder).

    The “scariest” dreams were a few I had after she was born, that I was pregnant again, YIKES!

  8. Your post reminded me of the woman I worked with who found giving birth a rush, which she enjoyed. She was pregnant with number five when we met.

    Please don’t get addicted.

  9. I had slightly similar dreams to Jenny McCarthy’s, though I didn’t dream about the C-section just that I had got my daughter out and was able to talk, play, and hold her for a while before she was born. I think I was just desperate to meet her and see what she looked like. When she was born, I was totally surprised because she didn’t look AT ALL like I had dreamed/imagined her to be. One of my first thought was “Oh, I thought I would recognise you!”.

    P.S. Don’t sweat the baby changing table. As long as you don’t have a c-section you can use a changing mat on the floor, which is what I ended up doing anyway once all the rolling started!

  10. I don’t remember dreaming but it’s such long time ago now. I wonder if you’ve been practising the breathing, where you take in deep breaths but sort of ‘lift’ the abdomen away up whilst you doing it, like stomach breathing? All those years ago I learnt it from a book, I was pregnant whilst in Germany but gave birth in the UK. I found it helped me so much – and I”m not a relaxy sort of person either.
    Good luck with the birth.

  11. Finn: Cool. I very rarely ever dreamt about being pregnant before being so. Once or twice my entire life I think. And I LOVE your mom’s dream about the pregnancy soup. What a great image.

    FVM: Haha. The after pregnancy “but now I’m pregnant again” dreams do sound a bit scary. Especially with the ferocity with which I’m looking forward to having my body back to myself and being able to walk normally again.

    Paula: I’m already betting that I probably won’t be one of those people who find birth a total awesome addictive rush. (Though you never do know.) I am just totally fascinated by the whole thing, which I suppose goes a long way in the same direction, especially in combination with my love of putting myself in uncomfortable situations in the name of growth. We shall see, we shall see…

    Fiona: Oh my god it is going to be so crazy to finally see what she looks like!!! Holy shit.

    Anni: I haven’t done any breathing practice yet. My birth prep course with my midwife just started, and we’re going over some of those methods starting next week I believe.

  12. You’re not crazy to want to experience birth! I was sooo curious about the contractions and what everything would feel like. I don’t regret going naturally one bit. Yes, it hurt…and there were moments when even I thought I was crazy. But, it was totally worth it to hold her in my arms and be completely aware of everything that was going on. Harper is only 7 months old, and I already long to experience labor again. I can’t wait!! Regarding dreams, I had some super weird ones. I kept dreaming that I forgot my baby in random places or that I left her alone. They were quite disturbing, actually!

  13. I know this doesn’t apply to the general thread of comments, but you asked…I once had a dream where I was pregnant and going through a narrow and low tunnel underground on my hands and knees. I was wearing an old-fashioned white nightgown and there was a little rivulet running underneath. When I finally reached the end of the tunnel I saw myself holding a baby in my arms and to my surprise it was me as a baby. Someone offered an explanation of rebirth, as I was going through big changes in my life then, and I felt they were right.

    Although I haven’t given birth, I’d wager that it’s normal to have some anxiety about actually giving birth and about being prepared for the baby and that could come up in your dreams. If it happens for other things, why not something as major as having a baby? Good luck with a big hug from me!

  14. I don’t remember having a lot of really unusual dreams- my dreams are often pretty strange when not pregnant. The only one that stood out was one where I had a teen daughter & knew that meant I didn’t have my son ( who was 4 at the time) this was when I was pregnant with babe #2 -also a boy.(which I knew at that time ) I’d always said I’d have loved a daughter- But in addition to my boys not instead of them. Labour & birth are life changing-but as I say to 1st time pregegant friends,”Most people aren’t only children. ” We get through it. For me I realized the pain actually is short lived – compared to the lifetime ahead with our kids. ( and between both boys that was 30 hours of labour with no pain meds ) Good luck & happy dreams!

  15. I had a lot of wacky dreams while pregnant! The worst was when my partner came to bed after I’d been asleep for a while and dreaming I was about to receive an award. Half-conscious, I thought I had overslept and missed the ceremony and now wouldn’t get my award; I panicked, began to sob, eventually puked (easily triggered at that point), and went back to sleep having never quite waked enough to understand the award wasn’t real. My partner felt bad for me…so he tinkered with his jewelry-making supplies and a few days later presented me an Award for Gestational Valor! 🙂

    The funniest of my pregnancy dreams: I live near a business called Alan’s Pets & Plants. I dreamed that I walked by and saw that “Pets &” had been pried off the sign, and by the curb was a big pile of broken aquariums, flopping fish, twisted cages, and panicked hamsters. I looked in the door and saw Alan glowering. What could have gone wrong?!

    Oh, and I also dreamed that my baby had been born, we were having a party, and Yoda was there. He was sitting on the couch next to the baby, saying, “Cute you are, but weak in the ways of the Force.”

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