It was warm and my belly was full and round. Life was inside me and in the next moment, in an eye blink, life was in my arms and she was beautiful, not a newborn but an energetic, laughing girl. She, less than a year, still needed me to carry her but she raised her own head. I remember frantically wondering who the man was that would father my child. I remember thinking, was I ready for this? We were in a car and we were going to a home. There was no driver but faceless family members. I left the car and we were in my parent’s backyard, her still in the car. I thought, I need to know where you are forever. I will never walk away from anything as my own person. Part of me, inebriated and worried that I had forgotten about my child for a moment too long, opening the door to her reaching arms. Why did I feel so out of it? Was I already a bad mother? She giggled, she wriggled and when I tried to photograph her, she turned away.
A boy I loved as a teenager claimed the baby girl for his own, she looked nothing like him and I wondered to myself how I could have birthed his child. I searched for blonde in her hair or green in her eyes, but she was golden with big brown smiling eyes that slanted slightly. She was mine, not his. He was as I remembered him, a mess. I told to him he could not be a part of her life, that she was mine and mine alone and that I did not need anyone to care for her. I remember feeling like it was impossible that he could be hers but I never spoke it, never told him that it could be someone else’s. He was hurt either way and took off to slain my name for a child he could never own, another part of me that got away.
The only face I saw in my heart was the only man I have loved, not a boy from my past. I looked in her eyes and saw my own, I looked at her and saw him. When I dream, faces are never clear. Everyone is a blur and an essence of who they represent. Voices are not heard, thoughts are translated from memory. I cannot discern specifics, ever. I wake and feel the images slip between my sheets and dissipate into the fibers, waiting for another cycle of sleep that they may enter once again.
I held her close to me trying to photograph her, through most of my dream, I just wanted her picture. I wanted to show the world how beautiful she was. Mostly, I wanted to show him. I began to panic when I realized she was not a newborn and thought that if her father received a photo of her then, already lifting her own head, not needing newborn mittens, with light brown hair all over her beautiful head, that maybe I was too late. Never did it cross my mind that he should have sought us out, his new family. I named her Madison Charles and she was all I had.
Pregnancies and babies in dreams are part of beginning anew. All I have is this new beginning and I cannot drag my past into it. My life is my own, I can lift my own head.