Dear Cynthia: When I was expecting my first child, I was pretty nervous. My husband and I had been married for four years, and we had raised two cats from kittens. We kept them in the house, and we really loved and spoiled them. Anyway, one night I dreamed my delivery time had come, my husband rushed me to the hospital, and I gave birth to a kitten!
Dear Reader: Giving birth to a household pet is not uncommon since, for many of us, a pet's birth may be the only live birth we have ever seen. As such, it becomes a subconscious frame of reference. Cats are associated with femininity, a possible clue from your unconscious mind as to the gender of your child.
Dear Cynthia: When I was about six months along, I dreamed I had given birth to my baby. It was my husband's birthday, and family and friends were in our house. I was baking his cake; it was in the oven. I realized we didn't have any candles, so I went to town to buy some. It was evening. I heard rock music coming out of a club and stopped in to listen. A band was playing on stage. They reminded me of the Doors. A very sexy lead singer wanted me to dance with him on stage! I did, and it was very sexy and very fun. Then I remembered the cake in the oven at home. And I hurried back.
Dear Reader: Your dream reflects feelings of the change of identity you will experience in becoming a mother. As a mother, you fear you won't be able to go out and have fun. Two-thirds of the way into your pregnancy, there is no turning back. Your one last trip to town for candles indicates that you wonder whether you are and will still be sexy after the baby comes.
Your dream assures you that you are still desirable, since the sexy lead singer wants to dance with you on stage, where everyone can watch. Since it is your husband's birthday, I sense he may have been a little more excited, at least initially, about the baby, or that it was his idea to begin your family since your dream indicates you view this child as a gift to him.
I love the humor of your unconscious mind, with the-cake-in-the-oven reference! "A cake or bun in the oven," slang for pregnancy. You wonder how your body and life will change--these are normal concerns. Most moms do regain their figures. With the help of family and friends you can manage, and should arrange, some time for adult night life after the baby arrives.
I was thrilled when I learned I was pregnant. My husband and I had been infertile for seven years. But while I was pregnant with my daughter, a subconscious fear was revealed to me in a dream. I dreamed I delivered a baby, but it had the head of an old man. His face reminded me of Fred Mertz on "I Love Lucy." He was bald and bossy and grumpy. To me, this dream meant that I was afraid that the baby would be born and then take over my life, that everything would revolve around her, and that she would be very hard to please.
In addition to dreams reflecting fear of delivery, change of lifestyle and the baby's health or appearance, other common pregnancy dream themes include feeling trapped in a confined area and swimming, since we begin life in a liquid environment. An expectant mother may fear the effect of her diet, drugs, alcohol or even destructive emotions, such as anger or jealousy on her fetus. Some women report beautiful and peaceful dreams in which they feel they have communicated with the baby inside them. Some dream of the baby's gender. Some dream of certain foods that would be beneficial to eat during this time of gestation.
Adding a child to your life does change everything. But it doesn't have to create anxiety and apprehension. Noting and interpreting your dreams will help you become aware of feelings you may be afraid to admit to yourself or others. New mothers may fear harsh judgment from others if they discuss their ambivalence toward motherhood or their concerns about being a good mother. Motherhood is sacred in our society. Many of us worry about falling short of the expectations of our partner and family.
So once you are aware of your fears or self-doubts, talk them over with a trusted advisor. A therapist, birthing coach or other new mothers can relieve your fears. You are not alone. The fact that you have concerns indicates you have the qualities you need. Listening to your child's dreams can help you understand his or her unconscious fears and give you clues about how to guide the child's development.
Behavioral therapist Cynthia Richmond's column appears every other Tuesday. To contact her, write to "In Your Dreams," Life & Style, L.A. Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, or send a fax to (213) 237-0732. Please include a daytime phone number. Letters should be no longer than 100 words and cannot be returned. "In Your Dreams" should be read for entertainment purposes only.