Zoë, reimagined

The first in our series of monthly guest posts submitted by Glow readers. Robynne's daughter, Zoë, was stillborn at full-term last July. Zoë was her first child. We are so grateful for her words and perspective. --Angie


In my dreams, you are alive. It is a trick my imagination plays.  Like when I was carefully putting away your baby things, sorting what to keep and what to return.  I held a toy in one hand, and said aloud, "I think I'll save this one for Zoë."  My mind just couldn't wrap itself around a future without you, around the idea of a child that would someday play with your toys and would not be you.  It is still a future that makes no sense to me, just as the present now lacks the logical outcome of my healthy, full-term pregnancy.  I have the baby weight, and the silvery stretch marks, the insomnia, and the instincts of a new mama, but I am missing the most essential piece of this puzzle that I started long before your arrival.

I dream that I go to the hospital where I delivered my daughter, and they give me her body, wrapped in blankets. I decide to take her home because I want her with me. Suddenly, she wakes up...she is alive! I am so happy; I want to show her to everyone. I can hardly believe the miracle that has happened. She is just as I remember her - beautiful, perfect. She speaks to me, almost telepathically, telling me things I need to know. Her words touch the deepest places in me, and I wake up crying in the dark. 

Nine months.  You would be nine months old now.  How have I come this far?  The books say you would be playing with sounds, syllables, even "ma-ma," the two-syllable word I long to hear most.  You wouldn't quite be talking in full sentences as you did in my dream, but you might repeat things after me, and copy my facial expressions.  The other day, I saw a photo of my friend's little boy, born the same day you were.  He was sitting in the bathtub with a huge smile on his face.  He looks more like his mother now, and has lost the look of "newbornness" and taken on infancy.  I cannot believe you would be this size, that you would be smiling at me in pictures and growing into yourself.

I dream that Zoë has grown suddenly from a newborn to a little girl of 5 or 6. She runs around the house screaming with laughter as I pretend to chase her. It is bedtime, and she needs to put her pajamas on. It is her birthday. I catch her and tickle her feet, and then kiss them. "I love you so much!" I tell her. I never want this dream to be over. I play it over and over for days, never wanting to forget the sound of my daughter's laughter. 

I want to believe that these dreams are more than dreams. I want to believe that somehow in sleep the part of me that cannot grasp other realities falls away, and that you are alive and laughing in a place where time dances easily between childhood and infancy.  I want to believe that there is more to this world than what I can see here, in front of me.  I watch a TV show that follows a medium through her day-to-day life, giving people messages from their deceased loved ones.  She reads mothers who have lost children, and assures them that their babies are with them all the time. I want to feel such confidence, to know that you are out there, that you can hear me when I tell you how much I love you and miss you.

I dream of the grief I have over the relationship I lost with my daughter, the connection I felt with her and all it opened in me.  Emotion fills the dream, eclipses any scene or series of events.  I remember it only as a knowing, and a sense of my loss.  Then, in the dream, I am told that I still have this connection with Zoë, but that it can only be like this, in dreams. 

I do not know much of anything anymore.  I find that the ideas I had about life, about religion and spirituality, about things beyond or unseen, have all been scattered and broken open to reveal a deep sense of unknowing.  A realization of how little I have been designed to comprehend.  A sense of humility about what I am meant to know, and see, and understand.  If there is a God, I am like the blindfolded men around an elephant, trying to describe it, and thinking it is a trunk, or a tail, or a rump because that is all I can feel at the moment.  I do not know where you are now - if you are in heaven, or in my dreams, or if Nature just took you back and you became a part of everything.  But I know that you were here.  I did not imagine you.  I know that my love for you is immense, and infinite, and all-encompassing.  I know that you are my daughter, and I will always be your mama.



Do you dream of your baby or babies? Do you dream of grief? What kinds of dreams do you have?