I don't tend to remember dreams. I used to say I don't dream, and then I learned that we all dream, but unless we wake up at the right time in the sleep cycle, we don't remember what it was we were dreaming about. So now I use scientifically correct terminology-- I don't tend to remember dreams.
The times I have dreamt of A? That I remember? I don't even need one hand to count. And never have I seen him as an infant, either the way he looked when he was born or as an alive one. Since I am by nature not an easily guilt-ridden parent, this does not usually cause me angst. I don't even know if I ever felt envious of the bloggers who have had these vivid live baby dreams-- the practical side of me kicks in right away with the "how hard it must be to wake up from a dream like that."
The times I have seen A in a dream? Well, a number of times before he was born. When I owned up last year to knowing he wouldn't be staying I left one thing out-- the dreams. I saw him in my dreams, a couple of times, while I was pregnant with him. Never as an infant. Always as a little boy, always in a distance, with a full head of curly hair, never looking at me, always running away. If this was a part of a storyline in a book or a movie, I would roll my eyes. Too much, too thick, too manipulative. But, as Mark Twain famously noted, fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth-- not so much.
A was born with curly hair. Tiny little waves of hair, perfect little squiggles, all wet from the birth, all over his perfect little head. And in one of the only dreams I remember from the weeks after, he was still running away, but this time he stopped and turned his head to look back.
My boys are different people, I am sure of it. Was sure of it the whole time, from before I was ever pregnant with the Cub. (Though who can really say how much of this surety is a pushback against the idea that a living baby fixes the grief and the griever-- one of my absolute favorites, that.) And even if I wasn't convinced of A being distinct from any future baby just on general principle, there would still be the part where he was running away from me in the dreams. That's not to say that I think that bereaved parents who believe that the souls of their children who are gone come back to them are wrong. I am, as with so many things in this grief world, agnostic on this. For other people. Not for myself. My boys are distinct.
And actually, since I was so sure that if we were to have a living baby it would have to be a girl, I considered the whole question, as it relates to me, purely theoretical. I think I was even a bit smug about that in the privacy of my own mind. Obviously that is not how it went. Though now that it went, now that I am getting to know the Cub, I am ready to attest with even more conviction-- they are different.
Except... Except that once in a while I think back to this other dream I remember from the early weeks. Well, "remember" is a bit strong there. The dream that was capital W Weird. Spontaneous human cloning-- oh yeah, baby! I dreamt, as far as I can remember, because it became hazy within minutes of waking up, that there were some cells left of A's placenta, and that at some point one of them went all pluripotent and created another, genetically identical pregnancy. This is both bizarre and absurd. So much so that I think I knew even in the dream that I was, in fact, dreaming. I certainly knew it the very moment I woke up (behold the power of years and years of my not entirely wasted edumucation). In the end, though, after I dismissed the literal scenario of the dream, in the end I had this unmistakable feeling that there was something tangible, something physical left. Even if I couldn't touch it.
Curiously, this dream happened only days before one of the handful of dead baby bloggers I was reading at the time posted about the research that showed that fetal cells can enter mother's bloodstream and remain there for at least 27 years. Physical indeed.
So what about you? Do you remember your dreams? How much attention do you pay to them? Do you dream about your dead baby? Do you want to?