How I Became a Mother :: Dream a Little Dream of Me

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how I became a motherColumbia SC Moms Blog is bringing you its latest series titled “How I Became a Mother” in honor of Mother’s Day. Each of us has experienced a unique journey into motherhood. Some of us have struggled with infertility while others have relied on faith and science. Some started their families early, while others didn’t begin until “advanced maternal age.” Some joined motherhood through stepchildren and others have dealt with adoption. Bringing a child into this world is miraculous regardless of how it’s done. Over the next several days, we want to share with you the stories of how we became mothers, to let you know that no two families are born the same. Join us on this journey as we celebrate moms!

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How I Became a Mother ::

Dream a Little Dream of Me

When does motherhood begin? At the first positive pregnancy test? At birth? Or later, when your child’s name stops feeling strange in your mouth and you’re able to say “my son” without feeling like an impostor?

You could take a page from my Catholic faith and say that motherhood begins at conception. And so, my story begins like this: I became a mother in a dream.

It was November 2009. My husband and I had been talking about children for years, and that fall we finally felt ready to try to conceive.

I approached this project as I do most things: nerdily. I followed a method called fertility awareness, in which you track symptoms of fertility such as early-morning body temperature and cervical fluid. I bought a basal body thermometer and took my temperature every morning. I used a website called Fertility Friend to make a chart of my temperatures, in order to see the pattern that would tell me when I was likely to ovulate.

I woke up that November morning and took my temperature as usual, then fell back asleep.

There’s something about the dreams that arise from interrupted sleep; they feel more vivid, more meaningful, as if your subconscious is using all its resources to tell you something.

In my dream, I logged onto Fertility Friend, and was greeted with this popup message: “Congratulations! You are pregnant.” I hadn’t entered any data, in my dream or otherwise, that would give the program any reason to tell me this. But there it was.

I knew better than to put much stock in dreams. So instead, I laughed about it the next morning. I told my husband about it and I laughed again. Then I told some friends about it and laughed some more.

My conversations went something like this:

So if I had a dream this morning that Fertility Friend told me I was pregnant. Do you think it could be a prediction from the beyond or just a result of me thinking about it too much?

My other dream was that I broke into Andy Samberg’s car and left him cookies and a love note. So, yeah, dreams probably not that reliable in predicting real-life events.

As the date of my expected period grew near, I proceeded as if it were sure to arrive. I bought an ovulation predictor kit to use the following month. But underneath, I had a quiet certainty that I was pregnant. After all, I had dreamed it.

So I wasn’t too flabbergasted when, two days after my period was due, I took a test and saw two very, very faint lines.

I made myself wait a few hours before telling my husband. When I did, his reaction was underwhelming: “So, two lines … that means you’re not pregnant, right?”

The next day, I tested again. Still two very, very faint lines.

I was headed out of town for work that week, so I resolved to wait until I came back to test again. I can’t remember if I packed period supplies for the trip; but I do remember that I turned down wine, coffee and deli meat. I was surprised at how calm I was; here I was, on the precipice of an event so life-changing that the word feels woefully inadequate, and I was cool as a cucumber.

That calmness went away the second my plane touched down at our home airport, late on a Thursday night. We landed at 11 p.m.; I picked up my luggage at 11:15 and was at the grocery store to purchase a pregnancy test by 11:30. At 11:45, I breezed in the door, barely greeted my husband, and headed to the bathroom. This time the lines were not faint.

When I logged onto Fertility Friend the next week to input my positive pregnancy test, the program’s response was simple and familiar: “Congratulations! You are pregnant.”

I didn’t make the connection until much later, but when I looked at my temperature chart, I saw that my ovulation day had been the day of my dream. I had dreamed I was pregnant as I was becoming pregnant.

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My son, William Owen, born August 2010. Is he dreaming of me the way I dreamed of him?

Our son William was born in August 2010. He looked instantly familiar, and I spent the first few days of his life trying to figure out why. He looked a lot like my husband, and a little like me, but there was more.

“Maybe you dreamed about him,” my mother said.

I don’t remember dreaming about specific babies, before my pregnancy or during it. And I don’t want to diminish the delicate power of my dream by examining it too closely. But it would be so much like Will — my affectionate, tenderhearted son — to come to me as soon as he was able and say, “I’m coming, Mom. You’ll meet me soon.”

I became a mother in a dream. And then I woke up. And real-life motherhood has been so much sweeter than I ever dreamed.

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As a writer and editor, Marian Cowhig Owen made her living crafting – or at least striving for – perfect prose. But motherhood taught her quickly that there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. It’s a lesson she’s learning over and over every day. A Midwesterner by birth, Marian lived in North Carolina for 14 years before her husband’s job brought the family to Columbia in fall 2013. She and her preschooler have quickly found new favorite haunts in the Midlands, including Saluda Shoals Park, EdVenture and the Irmo branch library. In her spare time, this NPR junkie also sings, bakes and does needlework. She’s recently taken up running, with an eye toward her first 5K race in the fall. And as for that perfection she’s been seeking? Her Pinterest boards are very carefully curated.

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