I’ve mentioned before the funny and sometimes alarming facial expressions that the baby makes when sleeping/dreaming. We noticed that almost from day one. Within the past few weeks, we’ve also noticed something that’s not so cute/funny. She seems to be having bad dreams or nightmares. While sleeping, she will sometimes jerk or twitch and cry out. Once or twice she’s even awakened crying, which is totally uncharacteristic.
At first we kind of poo-pood it. After all, with such a limited range of experiences, what could a baby possibly have a memory or image of that would constitute a nightmare? After the first few times, I finally got online and started doing some digging. Sure enough, there seems to be quite a bit of credible evidence that young babies do, in face, have nightmares or even night terrors.
What a horrible thing. You would think that babies could be exempt from that, as the bulk of their day to day existence is eating, watching adults make asses of themselves for their amusement, sleeping, and going about their bodily functions as noisily as possible. They are blissfully unaware that there is something called cancer or that some little girls go to the Safeway and get gunned down by an asshole. There’s even a moment where, as a mom, I wondered if it was somehow our fault. Too much Spongebob? Should I have eaten that pasta?
Some of what I read makes a lot of sense. Babies’ first real memories are of birth, which is gnarly from either side of the cervix. And even though we went the c-section route, that still had to be pretty upsetting for Stella. One minute you’re in your warm dark cocoon, the next minute, someone’s dragging you out head first into a horribly cold room and you’ve got a spotlight on you. Not cool. Then there are probably moments where even the best parent will startle their kid – maybe putting them down a bit too quickly (no, damn it….not dropping them) or walking backwards at a rapid clip.
I guess as a parent that’s a hard thing to learn: that you can’t protect your kid from everything. Even their own brains.