Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dream Child

My husband and I met around Halloween of 1989. We had our first date near Thanksgiving. He flew me out to meet his parents for New Year’s Eve. He proposed marriage on Valentine's day and we married on The Fourth of July, 1990. Our entire courtship from meeting to marriage was roughly seven months and yet we waited 17 years to have a child.

Every year, right around Thanksgiving and Christmas, I would have a dream that I was giving birth to a little girl. Everyone around me said the dream was metaphoric and not literal. Dream books told me that having a dream about giving birth was symbolic of projects I was working on that I was giving birth to.

In my dream, after I gave birth, the baby always appeared as a young woman and would introduce herself saying, "I am your daughter; and someday, when you invite me, I am going to be born to you."

n the many years I spent considering the little girl spirit's birth, a play about giving birth was conceived and born of me instead. I was working as an advocate for foster care children; and as the numbers of unwanted kids in America rose past 700,000, the number of women who were no longer able to conceive and who were turning to in vitro fertilization grew exponentially. All this was happening concurrently with fierce evidence of global warming due in part to overpopulation. Under those conditions, the thought of bringing another child into the world seemed inconceivable to me.

I wrote and performed a one woman show on the subject matter and was deeply rooted on a soapbox with the impassioned opinion that if people wanted to have children they should take care of the ones already here instead of bringing more into the world. I did not know how to reconcile my beliefs about breeding and procreation with my spirit child and her periodic visits.

I was obsessed with the topic and it touched every area of my life. I frequently became engaged with others on the issue, probing people's conscience to inspire my own. I continued to go within for answers and listen to my still small voice.

In 2005 — on my birthday — while having my annual gynecological exam and ultrasound, my doctor spotted an egg in my uterus. She said, "Wow, if you go home and make love now, you could make a baby." That frightened us more than excited us. We did not go home and we did not make love. Nice birthday.

I had recently recovered from a series of 13 surgical procedures and a chelation detoxification regimen. I had mercury poisoning from botched dental work as a child. I had endometriosis and polycystic ovarian disease, and I was so severely anemic that I needed thrice weekly iron infusions for an entire year. On paper, my body wasn't capable of conceiving; and if it did, the likelihood of birth defects would be greater than normal due to the mercury toxins in my body.

I rationalized that my health was in no position to take that step nor were our finances nor my conscience for that matter. I did not want to be a hypocrite by saying one thing about breeding in my public life and doing another in my private life.

As a young married woman, I feared pregnancy; but as a married woman of advanced maternal age, I feared not being able to get pregnant, even though I had consciously made the choice not to have children. Knowing that the choice would no longer be mine to make incited a fear of a loss of freedom in me. Choosing to not have sex on a day when I was likely to conceive felt like having an abortion. I felt guilty for not taking that opportunity, but I knew that above all I was not ready psychologically to even invite the thought of that experience into my consciousness.

Once the opportunity passed that I did not take I felt saddened but relieved. I apologized to the little girl spirit for not inviting her and giving her the opportunity of life. That's when she began speaking to me, even when I was awake. She said, "It's OK. That was just to prepare you. I will come back again next year on your birthday and if you invite me, I will be born to you."

The metaphoric seed was planted; and my husband and I made a tentative plan that if my health continued to improve and the doctors gave the OK, and I could reconcile my public beliefs with my private beliefs, then we would try, just for one cycle, on my birthday in March of 2006. If it was meant to be it would happen, and if we didn't conceive right away then it wasn't meant to be and we wouldn't try again.

I told our little girl spirit our plan. She responded by telling me what she wanted to be named and insisted that we give her initials of BLISS. "I will be with you on your birthday," she said. I acknowledged her and the agreement was made. I never came to a place of intellectual reconciliation, but I did come to a place of peace about my choice to move forward.

I could not argue that others had no business breeding children and then breed myself. My only comfort was that as far as I knew I had never met anyone who consciously waited as long as I had to have a child and who had put as much thought into the social and political ramifications, to say nothing of the personal, than I had. This somehow made me feel different enough to justify being an exception to the rule. I didn't think I was worthy of being an exception but I felt I was and thoughts and feelings can be very separate things.

I kept flashing back on a heated philosophical discussion I had with my brother-in-law in the early 1990s. We were writing a screenplay together that touched on this area. He was writing the voices of the moderate to conservative characters, and I was writing the dialogue for the liberal perspective.

For every reason he gave in favor of breeding I would give him two in favor of not. Exasperated he finally just put his head in his hands, and after a few silent moments looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said one word, "Desire."

He went on to explain that for better or worse, right or wrong, he had a desire to have children and no amount of intellectual facts or figures was diminishing that sense of calling in him. If anything, it was only making it stronger. There was nothing I could say to argue against him. I felt I had a calling in my life to be an artist and I couldn't fathom someone trying to take that away from me so how could I argue it away in him? He had the last word in that debate, and it was a powerful one that has stayed with me ever since. He ended up having three beautiful, bright children who I can't imagine not having in my life.

But alas, I did not share his desire. I did not feel that need, urgency or calling to give birth to a child in order to be a mother. This only made me question even more if it was something I should even be considering. Comic Betsy Salkind refers to breeding as genetic narcissism. It was that very line that bonded us as friends because I had also used that concept in my play. How could I believe that breeding was genetic narcissism and yet still be considering participating in it?

It didn't feel like narcissism to me. The BLISS baby was her own unique entity. She did not really feel like an extension of me. She felt more like a friend I cared deeply for who I shared a lot in common with and who I enjoyed being around.

Have you ever had a strong opinion about something and then met a really nice likeable person who held the exact opposite opinion as you? Well, it was kind of like that for me juggling my philosophical beliefs with my BLISS baby spirit visits. The BLISS baby of my dreams kept coming back to me and with each visit she brought out a little more desire from me for her, in spite of my beliefs.

I began to form a friendship with her like I would with anyone who I heard from on a daily basis. I learned her likes and dislikes, her hopes and fears and more of why she had come to me specifically. She told me that we had always been together as spirits, and now we had an opportunity to be together as two physical beings as well.

She showed me pictures of our life together. I was able to view a movie in my dreams of her performing as a comic on a college campus. In a wakeful vision I saw her with her husband and children at my death bed. She introduced me to two other children — a boy and a girl who also wanted to be born to us — and they told us their names as well.

She had a great sense of humor, loved music, had a determined spirit, was super smart and had a passion for learning. I could see what she looked like clearly: light eyes and curly hair with a beautiful smile, nothing like me at all. I shared these details with my dearest friends and my best friend, my husband. He began to see her too and have brief encounters with her during moments of meditation.

As the days turned into months, my birthday was just around the corner. Inviting the BLISS baby to become our daughter no longer felt like a political or social issue about breeding, over population and unwanted children in foster care. It became about finally meeting this spirit in person who we had come to know through our dreams.

When my birthday arrived, the day of the deed, I felt like she was in the room with us which was both awkward and yet also somehow spiritually magnificent. It was a wonderfully romantic experience and not far from movie magic where it's easy to forget what's a documentary and what's based solely on fantasy.

It was beyond an exciting voyage to consciously choose to create life and still not know if it would be successful, not to mention carrying the pressure of living up to the agreement we made to only try once. What if it didn't take? Would we ever meet the BLISS baby?

I felt a bit like Tom Burdet in the Motel 6 commercial saying, "I'll leave the light on for you." She must have had a GPS system installed in her DNA because she never even paused for directions. We conceived that night, and five months later ultra sounds confirmed that it was indeed a girl.

I immediately felt that her personality was already completely developed and I was just the vessel that she was coming through. I was so completely certain of this that I wrote a public description of her in our baby shower invitations before she was ever born which later turned out to be entirely accurate.

There once was a flower of a little girl spirit. Over the course of infinite soul years and 37 earthly weeks, she made her caterpillar to butterfly transition from the ethereal into the physical. She was expected around Christmas and was born around Thanksgiving just like she had been in my dreams for 17 years. She was the perfect holiday gift.

My husband's last name is Bailey. My last name is Smith. She asked for initials of BLISS so we named her Bailey, Love, Isabella, Sage, Smith. She has five names to choose from, two of which are fairly typical another that is common and two new age, spiritual, dreamlike names for the new age, spiritual, dreamlike child that she is. She will carry forth both her mother and her father's heritage, and she got her wish for initials of B.L.I.S.S.

Now I am being visited by the other two spirit children as well, but again I find myself in a state of mystification. I cannot comprehend on an intellectual level the reality of having two more children whether through breeding, adoption or any means really. I feel so completely overwhelmed with just one child. But I continue to forge the family ties on the spiritual realm and leave the reality of manifesting on the physical plain to unforeseen sources of influence that may come into play. Perhaps those of fulltime help with cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping and childcare.

For now our world is content with Bailey. She is everything I literally imagined and more. She is our greatest joy, our bliss, our dream child.

Names have been changed for privacy’s sake but do connote symbolic likeness.

Word count 2,170