Pesadillas (Nightmares)


“I’m not an anxious person,”  I told my new social work supervisor a couple weeks into our sessions. We met weekly to review my caseload of clients and to discuss transference (the client’s projections onto the therapist) and countertransference (the therapist’s projections onto the client). Joe felt that my lack of progress with a particular patient was the result of some anxiety, “completely natural for the unseasoned clinician,” he said, glossing over the fact I’d already been in the field for several years.

“But I’m not an anxious person, Joe,” I insisted.

He wasn’t the kind of person to say “Yeah, right,” but his eyes gave him away.


I’m not an anxious person. I let in worries, acknowledge them, and let them pass. As long as the stresses won’t kill me or someone else, I figure they’ll be resolved somehow.

But being pregnant and facing motherhood, I think I’m getting in touch with some anxieties, though they’re still not articulated.

Since I learned I was pregnant, I’ve had three vivid nightmares, the most recent being last night. They’ve all involved children. Two have involved miscarriage. And the one last night clearly channeled my anxieties about today’s doctor appointment- my first.

I wake from these pesadillas unsettled, unsure, for just a moment, whether something fearsome and irreversible really has happened, or if I’m in the liminal state between sleep and wake.

I suppose it’s time to go back and read Jung.


4 responses »

  1. You’re not the only one–I’m having both baby and child related nightmares pretty regularly. One about being in a house that was being firebombed while I tried to save a little girl and a teenager with Downs Syndrome…another about realizing that I was supposed to take THREE prenatal vitamins every day, not one, and that the baby had already died of malnutrition…and so on.

    I don’t FEEL anxious, either, but there you have it. I suppose it would be abnormal NOT to be worried, deep down, about a lot of things, right now.

  2. Julie: hola! Es muuy normal lo que te pasa. Como sabés, los sueños son manifestaciones del inconciente, y es muy sano que tus miedos aparezcan en sueños…

    “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to
    decide forever to have your heart go walking around
    outside your body.”

    ~ Elizabeth Stone

    Impecable. Verdadero…

  3. Wow– I thought about not writing this at all, and held back on details about the nightmares, which still really trouble me. I’m glad I wrote it, though; your validation helps so much. And that quote by Elizabeth Stone– I think my heart is currently in my throat.

  4. Julie, while I was pregnant I spent many sleepless nights…All the skeletons of my closet came to pay me a visit. We all have a past of unresolved feelings, and a healthy pregnancy, birth and postpartum helps us to see things we were not able to see before (and confront them, and yeah maybe win the battle!).
    There is also the fear of the unknown: birth is a mystery and we don’t actually know we’re ready until we’re giving that last, powerful push…

    There are two books I’d like to suggest you to read:

    1) Maternity, coming face to face with our own shadow (Laura Gutman). It helped me a lot! It’s in my list of the Ten Things you have to have (or have read, he) before the baby arrives.

    2) The red tent by Anita Diamant (I can send this one)

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