Baby Dreaming

Published on July 21st, 2020 | by Amy Mattes


When Can I Tell the World How Lonely I Am?

Another month passed unsuccessfully and the amaryllis bent and withered. It’s been four years in a row that he bought me one before Christmas. It flourished like a white winter lily, but with more delicate folds and creases, that then reminded me of my vulva, somehow aging before my eyes, but still beautiful. Before my days with him, I didn’t even know what an amaryllis was. Now a tradition that felt like a peace offering. Another thing that I couldn’t keep alive and would throw away. 

Leading up to each negative test I analyzed the online forums and symptom-spotted. I always came away with the conclusion that women were desperate and confused by pressure and our own strength. Clinging to acronyms like TTC, DPO, TTW, and BD, baby dance, baby dust. Sprinkles of digital “baby dust” on your post, to wish you good luck on your journey to get pregnant, stay pregnant. Baby dust sounded like the remains of dried mummified infant skeletons. I pictured keeping some in a totem around my neck. Voodoo child. BFP: Big Fat Positive. Women grasping at each other, comparing, wondering, if they thought it was possible that this meant maybe, because it meant yes for someone else. Clinging to any shard of hope that this cycle worked and they could call themselves a mama. I didn’t want to be there, on the forums silently lurking in the background, but in the TTW (Two Week Wait) the phantom twinges got the best of me. Pseudocyesis. Convincing yourself you’re pregnant by manifesting the symptoms. I knew that it was not going well when I began reading the articles more than once. My search history would tell you everything you needed to know.

When can I tell the world how lonely I am?

Photo by Tanya Shrivastava on Unsplash

There was a time when I thought that I was connecting with my unborn child. It happened because I named him in my mind and willed it to be and then my husband said the name out loud before I told him what it was, so I knew that it was him. A son. Then at the movies, which we rarely go to, the young ticket helper had a name tag that bore the same and it isn’t common, so I took it as a sign and then he gave me a survey with his name on it. I kept it in my jacket pocket for weeks and held it and fondled it, and thought of the name, until one day I set it free in the park. I left it on a green nurse stump on top of clumps of moss and said the name out loud and asked the ravens for help. It wasn’t the first time I called upon nature to aid me. This has to be bigger than me. What’s inside doesn’t work, maybe what is outside will. 

I drove to the rugged coastline and spent a day on the beach. I wrote a wish; on paper from my journal and folded it carefully into an abalone shell and closed it. They are the ears of the sea, opalescent, furry and wise. I sat on the rocks and there were three eagles surrounding me. I convinced myself they were a family and I watched the juvenile one squawk in the nest while the mother and father watched the ocean tides rise and fall, waiting for the fog to lift so they could sustain their baby. I hiked carefully to one of the spires of black rock, where no one else would go and I carefully tucked my wish into the jagged top. I placed it on a bed of broken shells and sea grass. I imagined the mother eagle swooping down to it and carrying it in her talons to the nest. An omen. “Please help me!” I called.

For months there was nothing. I was angry and depressed. Tears can come so hard the throat has no option to swallow them. They fall so freely I begin to wonder if my face might freeze that way, like when you are a child making contorted faces. The tears come when I drive my car, so I play a game with the radio, asking it to tell me my fate. I have more faith in music than doctors. The next time you see three eagles…

“Baby, I love your way.” Baby! He’s singing Baby! Change station: “Bridge over Troubled Water.” Sign of hope. Keep hope. Change station: “Try a little tenderness.” Try! Keep on trying! 

Sometimes the game doesn’t work. In silence, I envision myself driving right off the road and into the sand-weathered barnacles and oyster shells along the only stretch of beach on my commute I’ve never set foot on. Seems a fine final resting place. I am so tired. Tired of pretending, tired of failing.

When can I tell the world how lonely I am?

Image by quillerpl from Pixabay

I doodle on my to-do list. I find that infinity symbols begin to form uteruses. My despair grows with every picture-perfect social media birth story, and I am also jealous of a pregnant drug addict who was just caught with a tube of someone else’s piss in her bra, because I know she already has four kids in care and is now being granted a fifth. I have followed the diet tips, spent hundreds on vitamins and supplements, acupuncture, no alcohol, less coffee, back to coffee–because if I can’t have that, what can I have? I found black market Chlomid, but was too scared to take it. I can’t read my body anymore. When I bleed, I am broken. Is this my mind’s way of protecting itself from postpartum depression? You don’t need this, it is telling me, I am certain. 

I dreamt of conception. It looked like a science film. I dreamt again that I had a swollen belly and I found crystals in the sand of a foreign country. I lost friends along the way. Those who conceived early and easily. Their excitement destroyed me, and then I was destroyed further by taking personally the joy of the people I care for. Selfish shame. My best friend told me that the stars will align, that babies choose when to come, as though a baby must have then been choosing not to pick us. You must be stressed, quit trying so hard, your age, your body, your hormones aren’t balanced. I argued with three male doctors three months in a row, begging to be given a blood requisition and a referral to a gynecologist, begging because I am over 37. It’s been over nine months, but I was shunned, as though being proactive meant that I was a control freak. One drew me a picture of my menstrual cycle. Intimacy and fun makes babies you know? I appeared to them to be a try-hard. My husband is hurting too. He can’t give me what I want most. He has begun to avoid my despair.

I am over 37, and the world acts as though my sexuality has nose-dived and I am back-shelved. Eyes don’t look upon me in the same fashion. The message I get from society is that mothering is what makes me female. I wasted my childbearing years and this is my punishment. 

I stared at the amaryllis again and again. The blossoms shrunk into brown curls, but the open top ones were like bright paper lanterns, with precious veiny patterns. I stared at it and then took it out to the curb with the garbage, in the drab, post-Christmas coastal rain. The petals were stunning, but it could no longer hold itself up. 

When can I tell the world how lonely I am? 

Photo by Ryan Stone on Unsplash

I tried to stay busy in January to curb the pain. I signed up for a tarot reading course and found out my birth cards were the moon and the nine of swords, which spoke of depression and grief and sorrow and anxiety. The moon was the life-giver, the intuition, the cyclical womb. Nine, the length of pregnancy. I shuffled my deck vigorously for the activity and when I pulled a card, it was again the nine of swords, but now reversed. Was I getting to the end of this cycle of misery? It felt that way. I had to remain positive. The specialist appointment was still another month away. There was still another chance. Ovulation always gave me that boost to believe, but it was destroyed when my period came. How much would we spend to do this? 

I saw three eagles this morning on my commute. I summoned them, I am sure. Two were flying together and the other one, I saw right before I got into town. She, the Mother, was looming proud on the highest tree branch with sharp yellow eyes that see more than I could in a lifetime. I saw three eagles divine and powerful, and this month they listened. 

When can I tell the world how happy I am? Sustain in me, please. If I lose my faith in nature, if I lose this baby, I will lose my spirit too. 

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About the Author

Amy Mattes was born and raised in a secluded mountain town called Kaslo, British Columbia, Canada. Following her high school years there, Amy dropped out of the art school she attended for writing and then spent the next decade in a scrapbook landscape of transient travel and relationship ups and downs, which created a tapestry of pen-worthy experience. Writing is Amy’s most long standing companion. Her writing style saunters through the grit and beauty of human connection and often explores themes of identity, sexuality, grief, and addiction. As a feminist fascinated by society, Amy went on to receive a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Victoria in 2016. Now a new mother and wife, Amy remains on Vancouver Island, continuing to pursue her love of both literary fiction and women’s non-fiction. At present time she is working on her second novel.

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