Baby Trainer

The dreams began near the end of my pregnancy. Each night there was a baby, not necessarily my baby, but someone’s baby assigned to me. Each night I’d forget all about the infant. Each night in my dreams there were fires, floods and other natural disasters threaten our wellbeing. However, I never once remembered to pick up the baby when I ran out of the slumberland house to save myself. 

One night I took the baby given to me and laid it in a crib in the upstairs bedroom of my childhood’s farmhouse. I immediately forgot all about the little one. A few days passed before dreamland me suddenly remembered. Filled with great apprehension, I raced to the crib and peeked in. Somehow, inexplicably, the neglected baby had multiplied to become three or four smaller babies.

I didn’t need to visit a psychiatrist to figure out why I was having these dreams. Eight years earlier, when I was twenty years old, my husband Arnie and I had had a baby daughter. Christy was born with a rare birth defect and was very sick. To make the situation scarier, I had never taken care of a baby before, not even babysat for one. The idea of taking Christy home scared me. I loved her, but didn’t want to take care of her.

I took my daughter home two different times, but she had to readmit to the hospital after only a day or two because of her ill health. The experience made me fearful of childcare. I was ashamed of how I wanted a healthy baby, not the sick one I’d given birth to. Christy died at two months of age on April 2nd, 1971. My guilty feelings began to grow. I felt like a bad mother.

Doctors told my husband Arnie and me that our daughter’s birth defect happened because both he and I carried the recessive genes that cause it. Each pregnancy would have a one in four chance our baby would have TAR syndrome like Christy did. (Thrombocytopenia with Absent Radius syndrome.)

I desperately wanted a family. Struggling to get my bearings, Arnie and I applied for adoption. When we were approved, we were told the wait for a healthy baby could be years. A year later, on our seventh wedding anniversary, Arnie and I decided to pray for a heathy baby and try again. I quickly became pregnant.

The strange dreams as I neared the end of the forty weeks concerned me. Did they mean I’d have a hard time bonding with my infant? Then one night, a week or two before Niki Sue was born, I remembered the dream baby and took proper care of it.

Niki Sue was born on March 16th, 1978. The doctor who was attending my delivery happily exclaimed, “You have a healthy girl!”

Holding the vernix covered, squinting infant wrapped in a large, heated bath blanket, Arnie cried. He needed further assurances, “Doctor, are you sure she’s all right?”

I was still very nervous taking Niki Sue home from the hospital, but she didn’t have a bleeding disorder, didn’t have a digestive problem, and all her limbs were intact. There were no arm casts or hip splints for me to work around like when I had Christy.

I bonded quickly with this daughter. I knew that if our house caught fire, I would walk through a wall of flames to save her. If there was a flood, I’d swim upstream for miles to get Niki Sue to safety.

Niki Sue set her own schedule. She cried when she was hungry and settled down the minute I fed her. She grew sleepy mid-morning and midafternoon, so I knew to put her in the crib for naps. This baby gained weight and met all her milestones at the right times.

When I was a young girl, I had a bike, but was unable to ride it. I didn’t know how to balance and peddle at the same time. Then my Daddy put training wheels on my bike. Because of the trainer wheels, I eventually learned how to ride the bike without the extra wheels.

By the Grace of God, I had been given Niki Sue, a baby trainer who showed me how to be a mother. She is a beautiful soul who introduced me to the strong love I have for my children. This was a huge blessing, because four years later, Arnie and I had another baby born with TAR syndrome.

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