REM and I'm Not Talking About the Band Y'all
05/20/2010 6:36 AM
12/10/2010 11:23 AM
Today, I saw my daughter on the sonogram. She took a big yawn then smacked her lips like a fat dude on the couch. Of course, this was all in that fuzzy 2-D world of skeletal structures and cavernous eye sockets, but there was a moment when a 3-D view of her lips came into full view, and that’s when she took that magnificent yawn. It took my breath away, and not just because her rump is now located somewhere near my esophagus.
I was reading yesterday that at 28 weeks gestation, the baby begins to dream. This is theoretically possible because some smart guys in lab coats were able to detect REM sleep in babies of that age. I think it’s a funny exercise to speculate about what unborn babies must dream about, but for me it’s funnier to speculate about what a toddler dreams about. The infant’s dream is probably not much removed from its actual experience — if ALL you know is light and dark and muffled voices, then that’s a very small pool from which to compile weird dream scenarios. (You think Al Roker shows up in yellow swim trunks somewhere to the right of the placenta and asks if you want some toast?) But a toddler has had a wealth of experiences to draw from, even if he doesn’t understand them. I suppose toddlers wouldn’t think their dreams were weird because all of life must seem weird to someone so new to it. Maybe dreams are just weird to us grown-ups who have made a habit of setting way too many expectations for “normal.”
I actually haven’t had many weird dreams lately that are worth recounting. When I first got pregnant, I seem to recall writing a blog about a dream where I ate endlessly at a pasta bar. It’s been a while since one of those. I’ve been sleeping pretty soundly, actually, mostly because of the sheer exhaustion of moving into a new house. The other morning I woke up, Gordon was out of bed, and the sun was shining bright. Gordon came into the room with Drew in tow, announcing he had already fed him breakfast.
“I didn’t even know he was up,” I said.
“You didn’t hear him calling for you this morning?” asked Gordon, not accusingly, just curiously.
My baby boy had called for his mother but she would not be disturbed from eating toast with Al Roker. I felt about 1.3 seconds of guilt but was then overwhelmed with gratefulness to my husband who couldn't have known his wedding vows would include “for more sleep, or for less sleep.”
And with all this sleep talk, I am reminded in a matter of mere weeks I will soon be deprived of it. I remember the first two months of Drew’s life — getting up every two hours to nurse and wondering when it might be appropriate to send my child back with a return-to-sender stamp. The first morning after I slept six hours straight, I sat up in bed and declared, “And THIS shall be called Day TWO of motherhood. And we shall eat pancakes.” The first eight weeks had been Day One because no version of “nighttime” (with any meaningful significance) had yet taken place. Motherhood, or early motherhood at least, is no place for the weary kind — to quote Jeff Bridges in a movie I saw recently.
And with that, fair reader, I’m off to take a nap. Just yawned like a fat guy on a couch.
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