Nightmares are pretty common to parents after child loss. For weeks after Liam died my nights were mostly filled with nightmares. For the first three weeks K and I would stay up until 3 or 4 am watching Friends and sleep in until 1 or 2 pm. For some reason that seemed easier. Maybe it was waking up from nightmares to a bright room.
I remember how relieved K was when I told him I hadn’t had a nightmare in a while. It was hard for him knowing there was nothing he could do to take them away. So it was a relief for both of us when I was able to sleep normally again.
A lot of the time they weren’t about child loss. They were completely unrelated–I’d be fighting off an abductor or about to be buried by a volcano. I always thought that part was strange. My life has provided a living nightmare, but my mind was still determined to use new material. Until one night it didn’t. It reused Liam’s birth, only it changed all the details. How old he was, when he died, how the hospital staff reacted… It started out pretty. It was what his birth was supposed to be. Only I knew the ending from the start. And that was the worst. That was more painful than any of the others.
I rarely have the unrelated nightmares anymore. But occasionally I’ll dream about the living nightmares. Especially when I’m pregnant. Over and over I dream about seeing blood and rushing to the ER. Or I dream about someone else having miscarriages, and even that triggers me. And I wake up in a panic, and I check my sheets and hurry to the bathroom. Or I poke the babies and roll from side to side until they wake up and poke me back. And then for the rest of the day I obsess over this fear. It doesn’t matter that an early miscarriage is out of the picture at this point. The same fear is there. The fear that I’m going to wake up one morning and they’ll be gone. Because twice since the nightmares started its come true.
As the babies’ delivery date approaches, I get more and more of these nightmares. And sometimes that means not sleeping because I just want to feel every little movement and never let them stop. We’ve had to go to labor and delivery once not because I was genuinely concerned about the babies, but because I had hardly slept in two days. I was involuntarily waking myself up every couple hours to check the babies’ movements. Hooked up to the NST for an hour was the most restful I’d felt in days. I wish I could always sleep with the babies’ heartbeats playing in the background.
I am getting so anxious to have them out I can hardly stand it. I just want to be able to see them breathing, or hook them up to heart monitors constantly and know they’re always beating. I don’t want to have to rely on my body to tell me something’s wrong. At doctor’s appointments there’s always a small part of me that hopes they will find something wrong–just some minor complication, but something big enough that they’ll decide they need to deliver immediately. Because then I’ll know they caught it in time. That we conquered the shadow threatening us this whole time. And of course I’ll still worry about them when they’re out, but at least it will be different.
I sometimes pray that if God has to take either of these babies He just wait until they’re out so I can stop fearing my own body. So I can know it wasn’t my fault for not getting them out sooner. And then I pray that he please please please just let me keep them, though.
But for now, there’s always that fear. That every week they tell us everything looks great they’re really missing something. That the first sign of trouble will be waking up in blood or not finding a heartbeat. Three doctor’s appointments this week and I still can’t shake this fear. How am I going to get through five more weeks of this?