Last night, I had a classic panic dream. The kind of dream where everything goes wrong as you run down the stretching hallway, never reaching the door at the end...
It's the first night home with the baby. Since I had gone into labor so quickly, I was forced to go a different hospital in Everett, one that, in waking life, I detest. They sent us home immediately after delivery with no time to recover. I put the baby into his crib at the foot of our bed. He is sleeping peacefully. So my husband and I crawl into bed and try to get some much needed sleep.
Before long, I am startled by the sound of the baby crying. He is awake and hungry. My body aches everywhere as I get out of bed to feed him. But as I get closer to the crib, I notice there are piles of clothes and Christmas wrapping paper, boxes, and tissue paper all over the floor. The piles get higher and higher as I try to get closer to the crib. Before I know it, I am pushing and kicking my way to the crib which now seems to be stretching further away from me. I can hear the baby crying harder.
I have to feed him! He needs me!
Somehow I wade through the piles up to the edge of the crib. I reach out to pick him up when I feel a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. My bladder feels painfully full. I pause for a moment wondering if I can feed the baby before going to the bathroom. But my aching bladder twinges, winning the battle.
I'll be right back!
As I run to the bathroom, my husband gets up out of bed looking calm and happy. Without any piles of clothes or garbage in his way, he is holding the baby within seconds. I look back enviously at their bond.
"I'll feed him." My husband says as he starts mixing up a bottle of formula.
"No! I want to breast feed him!" I call out from the bathroom, huddled awkwardly on the toilet with my panties around my ankles. "I'll be back in just a second!"
"You better hurry!" he taunts me, "If you're not in here soon I'm just gonna give him the bottle."
Quickly I finish up my business in the bathroom and rush back to the bedroom. My husband is just about to give him the bottle when I snatch the baby from my husband's arms. My husband laughs at me as I shoot him an angry look.
"I said I want to breast feed him!" I insisted, "Why couldn't you wait two minutes? If we get him on the bottle now, there's no way I could get him back onto the breast!"
Trying to hold the baby carefully in my arms (which I clearly didn't know how to do very well), I fumbled my way back through the piles on the floor towards a chair sitting in the corner. The chair is lost under more piles of clothes and trash. With one arm holding the baby, I try to clean off the chair so I can sit down to feed the baby. He is still crying with hunger.
"Would you please help me?" I command my husband as I impatiently try to kick the piles away from the chair.
Again he laughs at me as he pushes away a path to the chair. With little relief, I sit down, looking down at my crying son. But a lump catches in my throat. I look up at my husband with panic in my eyes.
"I don't know how to breastfeed!" I look back at my son helplessly. "The hospital never told me how to get him to latch on properly. I don't know how to feed our son!" With an aching body, swollen breasts, and a crying hungry son, I sit amongst the piles of garbage and clothes clueless, frustrated, and scared.
The cries of my son echo into reality as I slowly wake up...