Published on November 5th, 2020 | by Becky Kling0
Postpartum Dream Sequence
I am out at the mall, a place I visit far more often in my dreams than I do in real life. I am not trying to find the food court, or Bath and Body Works. I am looking for my newborn baby, who has crawled off of me and onto the floor. This wouldn’t be a disaster, only now it is, because my baby is an insect…a tiny ant, to be precise. And the floor is one of those speckled floors that is multicolored and makes it impossible to find anything but is magical for disguising stuff you don’t want to see.
I am squatting down, afraid to move or call anyone over because I might crush my precious baby, whom I have grown for nine months inside of me, and who has emerged from me as a perfect, beautiful, and microscopic ant. I am surprisingly unashamed I gave birth to an insect, though I am still trying to figure out why my belly got so big for him, amongst other quandaries. He is clearly a royal ant, who likes to have lots of space. I still hardly know him, but I love him to an unbearable degree. My whole world will fall apart if I cannot find him.
After an interminable stretch of searching, I awaken in a panic. I find my newborn, who is slightly larger than an insect and who resembles a rubber chicken, sleeping in the bassinet beside me. I reach over to touch him, to make sure he is really there, relieved I do not need to learn how to take care of a baby ant.
It’s a beautiful sunny morning and I am strolling in the park with my baby, who is napping with a blanket draped over the carriage. I feel light and punchy, as if the spring breeze is blowing right through me. It is good to be alive. I gently pull back the blanket to check on my baby, and I jump back with horror. My carriage is occupied by a human heart, and in a panic I grab my own body and realize that is in fact my own heart, and the reason I feel so light is because I have been ripped apart from the inside. I cover up the carriage again, afraid to look back inside.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I am still alive, which is a miracle, but my heart is outside my body and my baby is not recognizable. I had been told of this phenomenon, this disembodiment where your heart travels outside of you, but it had always sounded fantastical. I had seen pictures of women smiling down at babies and tickling their feet, in beautiful beds that were always perfectly made. I wanted my money back. Was there a number I could call and complain about false advertising? No one had told me I might actually be handed my own bloody innards and be left to wander the earth like a zombie in the making. There probably was some god-forsaken tiny print at the bottom of these photos, warning you of these possible outcomes. For now, though, I muster up strength I did not know I had and I pull the cover back off the carriage. There is the bloody, beating organ, in all its glory. I am surprised to see it has eyes, and they are looking at me. I smile at it, then I pick it up. It squirms toward my chest where it clearly wants to return. My insides ache, and all turns dark.
I awaken alongside my baby, who looks up at me smiling. My insides still ache, though the blood is gone. All I can do is hold him to me, and cry and cry.
The place is one I have been to before; a campground on the California coast where I once did mushrooms back in my 20’s. High on the mushroom tips of new motherhood and sleep-deprived dreams, I am laughing, and my face aches. I am pointing at the mirror, saying “I know you!” And each time I say it, the face in the mirror starts laughing harder and harder, and its overwhelming ecstasy sends me reeling again. I am in in the public bathroom and people glance over as they walk by, maybe bemused or concerned at the whole scene.
Now I see clearly the face in the mirror is not mine, but it is my baby’s, and I am no longer in my 20’s. There are no drugs involved, but the sky is melting into all different colors like a kaleidoscope that is bleeding into the eye of the storm. I am giddy and as light as a feather. Nothing makes any sense and I think my head is falling off, but the loss of context no longer frightens me. I am in the midst of the most wondrous and enthralling love, and nothing else matters.