Last night I had a cruel dream. I've had a few of these lately and they seem to be getting more frequent. In the dream I have a baby. The baby is mine. I hold it and feed it. I look at it, I lay it in a crib. I kiss on it and touch it. The baby morphs and changes shape, growing older or younger, getting chubbier or skinnier. All the while I am kind-of lacking in emotion about the whole thing. I can't feel joy or pain... nothing. It's just the actions. It's just me and the baby going through the motions. The baby isn't necessarily Wolfie, but in the dream I know that this is my baby.
I had these kinds of dreams all the time when I was pregnant. I think most women do, whether they've already had children or not. At the time I loved them and I thought it was indicative of a psychological connection to my little one I was carrying. I would wake up with a warm fuzzy feeling, rub my belly, feel Wolfie moving around or kicking and usually talk to Ben about how I just couldn't wait for him to arrive.
Now, it's bittersweet. While it's wonderful to get to experience these things in an emotionless dream-state, I eventually have to wake up not only to reality but to my true emotions. Why do the dreams continue in the face of my loss?
The dreams are somewhat connected to this other feeling that I have a lot now in reality. It's a perception I have of myself. Sometimes I just feel like I'm the "alternate" in the alternate universe somewhere. I feel like somewhere, far away, the "real" Brooke is taking care of Wolfie, getting spit up on, doing endless loads of cloth-diaper laundry and being a real mom. I feel like I'm the alternate. The ghost of the real Brooke. The side of the story that went wrong and split off from the main branch. In the air there lingers a scent... like a transparency laid over my actual life... that I'm supposed to be a mom right now. That I'm supposed to act and be different. This universe can feel the other one. It wants to even base decisions on it.
For a split second I want to say, "No, I can't do that right now because I'm a mom now and moms don't do that." This could be about anything from getting drunk to couch hopping. Childless, married women can do things that moms typically can't. I have a hard time remembering that I am still childless. My natural inclination is stuck to the alternative universe. I'm stuck on a ghost, a transparency of a life that wasn't to be. It was all planned out. The fantasies were all played out, too. Our plans and hopes and dreams and ideas of having a child.... all those things in reality come with things, responsibilities, chores, limitations.
It's hard to shake it. It's hard to accept that I don't have those things. It's hard to get drunk or go couch hopping because it just doesn't feel "right". Like, it's going against the natural order of things.
Be a mom and do "mom" things.
Enjoy being a mom.
My alternate universe:
Total confusion. Plans derailed. Go back to step 2. Uh what?
Maybe the dreams are working hand in hand with this weird universe I'm in. I mean, the road's not supposed to be easy, is it? I keep feeling like one day I'll wake up from reality. I'll gasp for air, roll over and touch Wolfie as he sleeps in our co-sleeper, glance at my snoring husband, breathe a sigh of relief... "oh thank goodness it was all a dream" and go back to a peaceful sleep.
No no. I'm well aware that I'm living in reality, friends. It's just a strange thin feeling I have sometimes. Or maybe it's a fantasy. Or maybe it's a dream.
I have cruel dreams and I live in the original universe. I lost my baby and I'm dealing with that. My life was not meant to be so simple. I don't follow the natural order of things.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Dear Wolf, it was about this time last year that you were conceived. You were just a little simple-celled thing rapidly dividing and growing, releasing hormones and affecting the world around you. For three days straight my kidneys were aching and I knew something was up.
I was pondering all this stuff this past weekend. On Saturday Ben and I were stopped behind someone in traffic who had "PSLM139" on their license plate. I said "psalm 139" out loud because it seemed a little silly to me. It's not like I have the bible memorized or anything... and I found it a strange thing for a personalized license plate. The next day we went to church and wouldn't you know it? Psalm 139 was the first bit of scripture to be read in our liturgy for the day. I mean weird. Weeeee-urd.
This has only ever happened to me one other time in life. My friend Andrea and I were driving around many many years ago and I was complaining (as usual for those days) about being single. Unlike Atlanta, everyone I knew in Columbia, SC had already gotten married by the age of 23. So there I was, 25 and not a good man in sight. Anywho, I'd just finished a rant and we stopped behind this huge cadillac and the license plate read "BENNETT". That's my maiden name. Yeeeahhhh. I mean what are the odds of that?! Like God telling me to simmer down and enjoy being a Bennett for a while.
So I guess God likes to speak to me through license plates sometimes.
From Psalm 139:
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
Even before I really knew what was going on in my womb, God did. A few weeks later two little lines would appear on a test strip and Ben and I would have a better idea of things, but in the beginning all I had was a hunch. A sneaking suspicion.
We made Wolfie with our cells and our bodies but God would do with his life what he would. And Wolfie did a lot with his little life.
As I'm getting back into the creative swing of things, and trying to get back to work I am struck with the power of creation. I am constantly in awe of the "life" my creations take on, how other people see them or desire them, or how they influence the world (however small a world that might be). Just like a baby they are conceived and delivered.
And so begins an eternal season of remembrance for Wolfgang... beginning with conception.
It also seems only fitting that until today I'd been too terrified to call the hospitals to make sure that our bills were paid. I had so much anxiety this morning about it that I was literally shaking while I gathered all the paperwork. I called around and somehow miraculously, all our bills were zeroed out... nothing to owe. The insurance has paid for it all. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Praise God who cancels all our debts. Praise God who has fearfully and wonderfully made us.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
Friday, July 1, 2011
here, you lean on me and I'll lean on you
the hours are long but our days are few
and troubles are heavy and so hard to bare
so let's lean together and learn how to share
here, you lean on me and I'll lean back
the pains are too many to ever keep track
and we can't decide how to act or deal
so let's lean together to help how we feel
here, you lean on me and I'll lean as well
the heartache is not very quick to dispel
and the past has some grievances left to atone
so let's lean together and not be alone
here, you lean on me and I'll lean the same
the world keeps on turning and no one's to blame
and we are but grains in a great sea of sand
we lean on eachother, but it's faith where we stand
--written by me, inspired by my husband. Photograph was taken by the wonderful and beautiful Que Brown, who was the doula who attended the birth. She took this picture while I was in the early stage of active labor and I just think the picture alone is worth a thousand words...but I wrote a poem anyway.