by Aurora Bordeaux
Okay, so this is something I had to blog about because I saw it on not one but two online childfree forums in the last week. (One of them was, of course, the Baby Off Board Forum—Have you visited yet? It’s grand.) Basically, women across the globe who are childfree by choice are finding themselves struck with kooky baby dreams. And I’m one of them.
The dream themes vary, but they range from childfree people becoming baby crazy (nightmare?) to suddenly having a child they don’t want (night terror?). Both cause some level of self doubt and panic. The question is, are our subconscious minds collectively falling victim to the parenthood bug we believed we’d never catch, or is there some kind of global psychic epidemic targeting us since we’re destined to lead the world into revolution but we can’t defeat the pending robot uprising if we have kids? Forgive that second reference, we’ve been watching a lot of Supernatural on Netflix lately and I’ve got apocalypse on the brain.
I may have had a baby dream here or there as an adult, but they didn’t make much of an impact until I heard the word “childfree” and realized it was the team I’d been playing for all along. It wasn’t until a few days before the hubs got snipped that I started having some vivid dreams of babies. They rattled my cage big time because in the dreams I was suddenly baby c-r-a-z-y. I was desperate to be pregnant, then was pregnant, then had a little baby (I think it was a girl). I relished in picking out tiny frilly clothes, whereas in real life I want to take a flamethrower to frills. Dream me was over the moon to be a mommy, but live me feels weird juxtaposing the word “mommy” with myself even in a blog about dreams.
I woke up, panicking and disoriented. Oh my God. Did I want this life? Did I want a baby? Would we be “that couple” who cancels the vasectomy five days before show time? My stomach twisted into nauseous pretzels.
As the tide of the dream retreated and I sat up in bed, I could feel myself becoming more, well, myself. Even though I was me in the dream, I was a version of me that doesn’t match up with waking life. I experienced and felt every breath of that other reality, but it wasn’t my reality. Within 60 seconds of waking, I’d rebalanced and cooled down. I did not want a child of my own. Parenting is sticky. The zillion reasons for not wanting a baby gave the misty dream a series of uppercuts and life marched on.
What’s weirdest is that even now, I can remember a brief flash of the back of a baby’s profile. I can see her little funny potato head dusted with peach fuzz, the sweet curve of her fat cheek, and I remember loving her to the innermost core of my bones with affection that radiates like light. She doesn’t have a name. But I can see her wobble where she sits up, slightly off balance in the way infants so often are. If I try, I can still smell her, a scent like powder and ducky feathers and new things.
When I think of this baby in my dream, I still feel a memory of strange affection. It’s different than the love I feel for my dogs, but not bigger. What’s also strange is that remembering seeing and smelling this baby in waking life, and still feeling a shadow of that love, doesn’t make me miss her or regret our choice. It’s almost comforting in a way, like I made a small friend and part of me is glad to have met her even if I can’t see her face.
I think maybe dreams are just our mind’s way of working out the questions that sometimes bounce around in the back of our minds as we go through everyday life—listening to friends gush about little Jane, watching kids scream behind us in the Target checkout line, parental accounts of messes and stomach flus. What would that be like? Everyone tells me I’m missing out, but am I really? I know this is what I want, but is this what I want?
For me, the answer is a solid yes. But if baby has to pop in now and then for some pattycake and a visit in dream world, I guess that’s not so bad. I know who I am and what I want. Maybe the fact that I didn’t name her, that even now I feel a strong aversion to naming her, is enough to be sure. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends if she comes around again.
It’s funny that as I wrote the bit about loving my fake dream baby, I really did feel that love. But by the time the digital ink was dry and I went back to reread my words, I didn’t feel it anymore. I mean, it’s just a dream. Maybe if we meet again I’ll name her something funny I’d never use in waking life–Tabitha, or Jillie, or Bella Rue. See you in the dream world, Kiddie.