October 27, 2022

Pregnant Dreams

 People keep telling me to cherish my sleep during pregnancy, in anticipation of the sleep deprivation that comes with a newborn. This advice feels extraneous to me, because I’ve treasured sleep ever since my medical residency introduced me to working for 28 straight hours, and 100 hours in a week, with only four days off in a month. I’ve heard from doctor friends that the sleep deprivation of mothering a newborn is worse than that of residency, and I believe them. But thanks to the priming of medical residency in my mid twenties, and all the ways it screwed up my ability to sleep soundly, I already savor all the sleep I get. 

Besides that, I’ve found that sleeping while pregnant sucks. For the first few months, morning sickness for me was contrary to its name: constant and worse in the evenings. After the dissolution of the first trimester symptoms that made nighttime the worst part of my day, my second trimester brought a new nocturnal flavor--that of vivid dreams. Dreaming was not infrequent for me before but it was not regular; now I dream every single night, and most often it is related to pregnancy, birthing, or motherhood. It disrupts the depth of my sleep, as I feel super stimulated while dreaming and wake intermittently to reorient myself and my sense of time is warped by the nonsensical chronicity of my mind. I also cry more in my sleep than I ever have. 

I’ve dreamt that our son came out of my womb as a full-fledged toddler, making us grateful to bypass sleep and potty training, and sad to have missed the wee beginnings.

The most vivid to date is a dream in which I’m able to physically remove my uterus while leaving our baby inside me. At first, I’m amazed at this convenience, thinking that without this organ, I can be pregnant without all the baggage. I’m free! Then I panic, realizing I need my uterus to give birth, and how is our baby going to get out without its vessel? I try over and over to put my uterus back in. My waking self thinks, “This is like trying to put in a diva cup” (I tried every folding technique with the cup and each one was uncomfortable). My dream self thinks, “Did I just destroy our baby’s life?” 

It’s interesting to me that I wrote earlier about how I want to keep my uterus, regardless of whether I want to use it for its organic purpose, and in my dream I want to be rid of it unless it’s necessary for my baby’s birth.  I suppose that the uterus is the bodily organ that inspires in me the most complex multitude of feelings: gratitude and respect on the one hand, and resentment and mistrust on the other. And maybe when I said that I desired pregnancy because it’s part of our full spectrum of humanhood, this is a reminder that fullness contains a lot of fear and darkness. Whether that’s the space left behind from the uterus removed from its body, or the emptiness of the uterus when a baby exits, or all the crevices in between. 

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