When I was pregnant with my rainbow, there was this fear that lingered deep in my mind, combined with a peace that sat strong within my soul. This pregnancy was different. Or was it? Was it my desperate need to believe that I would actually hold a living child within my arms that made me think this way? Because every time I felt brave, the stark reminder of vulnerability came rushing back over every bone in my body leaving me utterly petrified. Now that my sweet girl is seven months old and very alive and healthy, I am trying to process my pregnancy with her. Living within a literal constant state of fight or flight took a toll on my mind, my heart, and my body. And let’s be real, my cortisol levels as well.
I recently had a
dream nightmare that woke me from a deep sleep in a body full of sweat and a racing heart. It took me hours to get back to sleep and I still haven’t shaken the dream completely. In this dream I lost another baby, this time it was during childbirth. She was a little girl but clearly not my living daughter. But I loved her fiercely. In this dream, my now living daughter Margaret did not exist. The hospital staff was the exact same crew as it was with my son who was stillborn 2 years earlier. Everyone stared at me in disbelief with empty eyes. They were shocked that this was happening again. I was gloomy and sad but far from shocked. The doctor brought my previously stillborn son into the room so we could take family photos. The four of us. My husband, myself, and our two deceased babies. My son was just as still as I remember him and my daughter in my dream was just as still as him, only bigger and with more color in her skin. We didn’t smile for the picture.
Then I woke up. “She’s okay, she’s okay. She’s right there in her sleeper. She’s breathing.” I had to keep reminding myself over and over until I exhausted myself back to sleep.
I keep thinking about this little girl who died in my dream. She was my daughter, but she never really existed. Yet she was real to me. It was Charlotte, the other baby I was mentally preparing myself for.
Charlotte was the other name we had picked out for our baby. Except this name was chosen for her if she didn’t survive. If she were to live, we would name her Margaret, after her late grandmother. You see, we couldn’t bear the thought of burying a little baby girl named after my husband’s deceased mother. So we had two names. I was mentally planning for two different babies. Two completely different lives. This is why we never shared her name until she was born.
These past seven months my anxiety has become manageable, but I still fear my Margaret could be taken from us at any moment. Sometimes the fear is so intense that I feel that same fight-or-flight feeling again. My mind was so terrified for so long that my body began to respond accordingly without me even realizing. After Margaret was born, it took several weeks before the panic stopped overcoming my body. I vividly remember sitting on the couch next to my husband who was holding our newborn baby girl on his chest. I took a deep gasp and held my stomach in fear. I hadn’t felt her kick in some time so my body panicked. And she was right beside me.
My dream felt relieving in a way. Or maybe it felt like I was finally letting go. I had to give birth to Charlotte in order let her go and fully accept my reality. She wasn’t real. She never existed.
But somehow she did to me.
I am grateful I never truly met Charlotte because that would mean there would be no Margaret. My reality is this…my baby did not die. This was pregnancy was different after all.