The other night I dreamed that I was pregnant.
I am not pregnant.
Likely I will not become pregnant.
I know this for several reasons: my husband and I said we wanted two kids, we had two kids, and we took measures to ensure that we would only have two kids.
I have been pregnant exactly two times in my life, but I dream of being pregnant often. If I had a real child for each dream pregnancy, I’d need a bus for transportation and dormitory-style bedrooms.
People nod knowingly – smugly – when a woman shares about dreaming of pregnancy. Ah, there’s something unresolved there, they muse. Does your husband know? You want more children! You desire babies!
I loved my babies. I enjoy other people’s babies. Babies are part of who I am; I notice babies in the world because I’m a mother. Each baby is a joy, his or her perfect little face a shining light. I like babies, but that doesn’t mean I want another one of my own, despite the dreaming.
Being pregnant in my dreams is both familiar and new, a strange pairing of feelings that I remember from my own experience years ago as a mother-to-be. Every feeling is recognizable yet novel – like I’d done this before, but knowing that everything will be different at the end. It’s a combination of wariness and excitement, adventure and fear, power and vulnerability.
But in each pregnancy dream, there’s also an undercurrent of dread. Dread of toting a diaper bag. Dread of feeding, and bathing, and dressing, and immunizations, and little toys everywhere, and potty-training. Of finding babysitters, and post-pregnancy body woes, and hormone-swinging, and starting all over. Of living that life again. My dream self may be pregnant, but she isn’t happy about it.
I don’t usually admit that I disliked being pregnant.
It’s unpopular to say you have an aversion for something that brings joy and life. There’s nothing more natural and extraordinary about growing a human inside your own body. So many people experience hardship related to pregnancy, whether it’s infertility or baby loss or birth complication or even old fashioned unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, as well as passing the stage in life where pregnancy is ideal or even possible, and having no children. It’s downright ungrateful, to appear to disparage the name, the miracle, the institution of pregnancy. It’s hard not to feel guilty when you had an easy time of something that others struggle with. It’s hard not to feel inhuman when you admit you really didn’t care for it at all.
Pregnancy dreams are just that: just dreams, probably planted in my subconscious by the babies I see every day, their images prompting memories of pregnancy to surface later, when my mind is relaxed and unguarded, when I am asleep in my bed, during this stage of life when pregnancy is unlikely now. My dreams are not longings for the future. They’re recollections of the past.
A past steeped in warm feelings of nostalgia, but without the desire to relive it.
I was pregnant in my dream the other night.