That Was Easy

So I had my first dream/nightmare about the baby’s birth.  I tend not to remember my dreams and, when I do, it tends to just be the middle and maybe the end; they always seem to start in medias res.  Anyway, here is how it went down:

I was rushing through the hospital entrance, where I immediately heard the sounds typically associated with childbirth: one person screaming “PUSH!” and another person screaming bloody murder.  As I speed through the automatic doors, I look through the first door on my left and see an anteroom and, through that, the typical Hollywood labor room scene.  I say “typical Hollywood” because there was no blood or poop, two things I am told make frequent appearances during labor.  I push through the anteroom and into this second room just in time to watch the baby slip effortlessly out of Zazzy.  I manage to grab and squeeze her hand before the final toe emerges so that no one can ever deny I was “there”.  The nurse (it all apparently happened so quickly neither I nor the OB/GYN really made it) took the baby, wiped it down, and placed it in a warming tray (the type they showed us during our hospital tour which they should really rename because all it made me do was think of old McDonalds food).  Zazzy promptly passes out and everyone leaves the room, leaving me alone with the baby who is standing up in its warming tray staring bullets through me.  It was a girl.

So… that’s how it works, right?!?!


One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.


  1. My first child entered this world following 40 hours of labor.

    No, that’s not how it works.

  2. I have a theory about nightmares of this sort. Jung, for all his finger-wiggling mysticism, understood dreams were windows into the unconscious. What you faced in this dream was what he called the Shadow, the un-Kazzy. I don’t believe this was a nightmare at all. At the risk of deepest pretentiousness and with the full understanding it’s worth every penny you’re going to pay for it, I would like to interpret this dream.

    You arrive at the very last second, pushing through several sets of doors and rooms to find Zazzy already in labour, in the capable (and order-giving) hands of others. PUSH, she’s told. You’re pushing doors, she’s pushing out your child. At the very last moment, you connect with the mother of your child, only to have the child emerge effortlessly into the world.

    Note who’s absent: the OB/GYN, the one person I’m guessing the both of you trust in this pregnancy. The baby is competently if impersonally handled like so much product coming down a food prep line and placed into a warming tray, whereupon everyone either leaves the room or passes out. You are left with this new baby, intently watching you.

    BlaiseP’s theory of dreams says the mind processes the short term memory through the process of dreams, compacting it into long-term memory, rather like a search engine crawls through a site. The process is quite efficient and amazingly sensitive to context: for example, you can recall certain traumatic incidents from long ago with cinematic frame-by-frame recall but most of the mundane details aren’t preserved beyond a cursory I’ve-done-this-a-million-times iterator tick. This process isn’t always foolproof, often we forget details or if the incident was particularly horrible, we don’t remember it at all. And I don’t hold much stock in all remembered dreams being particularly significant: unless this dream woke you, this was simply your last dream and you happened to wake while this dream was being processed in short-term memory. Notice how quickly we forget the details of dreams upon waking.

    You were processing the hospital visit, where you saw the warming pan. The possibility does exist, however remotely, that Zazzy would be in the final stages of labour and you’d arrive at the hospital just in time and the OB/GYN wouldn’t be there and the child would be a quick delivery and the nurses would be impersonal. But beyond that point, everyone leaves the scene, including Zazzy, after a fashion. Thereafter, it’s just you and the girl child, looking intently at each other.

    Most of this dream is just a setup for that moment. Of course you’ll be there with Zazzy as she delivers. Of course your OB/GYN will be involved. It will be a moment both solemn and terrifying and suffused with deepest joy, more intimate and profound than any moment of your life and the significance of that moment will only grow with every child you’ll have.

    You will look into your child’s eyes, Kazzy and you will never forget that moment. A new soul will look back at you and all the world will fade away as your world collapses into the focal plane of your child’s face. It will be you and your child, nobody else, not even Zazzy. Zazzy will have that moment for herself, a moment into which you will not enter, either. I’m sure you’ve both had intimations of that moment as the child quickens, moves and appears in the sonograms. The tree of your mind will grow a new branch in that moment and you will never be the same.

    The dream is not a nightmare at all. Yes, the birth will take place in a somewhat impersonal contex and you will open many doors and cross many antechambers to the birthing room. Within that room, your child will be born and you will look into that child’s eyes. And she will look back and it will be you she sees.

  3. The only Hollywood thing about my delivery is that my water broke naturally and at home. The instructor in my birthing class told us that only happens 10% of the time, so we weren’t really expecting it.

    You know what else they don’t show in movie? Vomit. Yep, it’s pretty common, as labor progresses, that mommy vomits on the person closest to her. Think of it as indoctrination into fatherhood because that kid will throw up on you.

    How far along is Zazzy now?

    • Heh. There’s vomiting and then there’s sympathetic vomiting. The mother of my children would yark and I’d be right there at the same emesis basin in two seconds.

      Apropos to nothing but sympathetic yarking, one of the funniest stories I ever heard was from a kindergarten teacher. Seems one girl yarked in the room and another kid sympathetically yarked. Soon everyone was wandering around, crying and yarking on each other. Pandemonium. The storyteller was one of the funniest women I’ve ever known. Maybe you had to be there to hear her tell the story.

    • 30.5 weeks. Due date is 4/4. A nice number if we should hit it. Though I’m already sort of pissed that it might ruin the Final Four.

      I shouldn’t be thinking in such terms… right?

      • I assume this Final Four thing is a sporting event. Don’t look at it as missing the Final Four, think of it as not missing some more significant sporting event. Besides, it will make it easy to remember when people ask when her birthday is.

        • Few sporting events are more significant than the Final Four. Sheesh, Mary.

          • Absolutely. It’s a great day for the kids, many of whom won’t graduate from college, make the NBA, or have anything positive happen in their lives ever again, as well as the schools, several of whom who are only a month or so from being banned from postseason play for the things they did to get there.

  4. You say it may have been a nightmare… are you saying that because it felt like a bad dream at the time or because, in retrospect, it feels like it should have been creepy?

    • The baby was standing up! Babies aren’t supposed to stand up at 5 minutes! That should take at least… [counts on fingers] 20 minutes, I reckon!

      Also, missing the birth, or even almost missing it, would be hugely disappointing.

      • Modern babies have evolved the ability to stand shortly after birth so mother and child will be ready to flee upon the approach of any member of La Leche League.

  5. leaving me alone with the baby who is standing up in its warming tray staring bullets through me. It was a girl.

    I’d say this is the heart of it. Kazzy worrying about being late, about not showing up on time — though he does make it, like writing the term paper the night before it’s due, and that stare’s the grade reflected.

    A first child is a dive into a fearsome unknown. Birth is dangerous. It’s hard work. Above, Blase spoke of the difference between traumatic memory and regular memory. My first was born in 1986. We lived in Boston, and the Celtics roster included Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale. I’d woken in the morning in labor. Mid-afternoon, we went in, and they put a monitor on me, and sent me home. So we went home and watched the game. Bird one it on the buzzer with a three pointer. (This is March 13, 1986 — you can look it up.) After, in an interview, Bird described being aware of 1ooths of a second passing, and I remember sitting there thinking I could not relate to that. About the time the game ended, the contractions were getting pretty rough and frequent, so we went back to the hospital.

    Round about 3 a.m., my sweetie had dozed off in the chair. We were supposed to close on our first home the next day, and I didn’t want to wake him. But I’m also hitting transition. Contractions are coming fast and hard, they’re painful, he’s asleep, and I’m all alone. My lower back screeches in pain with each contraction; and while I know they were only a few seconds long, they seemed to last forever. Suddenly, I knew what Bird meant about being aware of 100ths of a second. And there’s never a time in my life I felt so alive. I think I let my sweetie doze for about a half hour before an inadvertent scream woke him. He got the nurse, she called the doc in from his sleep. 7:03 the next morning, we had a new baby in our arms.

    And I understood the passage of time in a profound new way.

    It’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay for your daughter or son to look bullets at you. You will be late sometimes, nearly letting Zazzy down sometimes. You will make mistakes.

    And you’ll be an awesome Dad, because you’ll get things right, too. More often then you get them wrong. You’ll also be there early, ready and waiting to provide and protect and pamper and pride. If you doze off during the birth, and she doesn’t wake you? Know she trusts when you do wake, you’ll be there. And when she’s in transition, and her lower back pains, put as much pressure on it as she wants, look for those contractions before they start and apply that pressure without waiting for her to ask, once she’s asked for this help. Because that’s a freakin’ beast; the place where you learn about the reality of time.

  6. as far as baby nightmares go, that was a pretty decent one. for whatever reason, eerily aware babies is a common theme. very unsettling.

  7. I had recurring baby nightmares of similar character when we were expecting our daughter and for months after. I would be holding the baby, usually about 1 to 3 inches long, concerned but happy, and something would grab my attention. When I’d think about the baby again, I’d have misplaced it. The rest of the dream would be me looking for the baby, catching a glimpse here or there, but never quite finding it, until I realize at some point the baby has died or been forever lost, and that would wake me up.

    I am SO glad those days are gone. Good luck!

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