Dreaming With Jen Doll: The Ethan Allen Express -The Toast

Skip to the article, or search this site

Home: The Toast


Previous installments in this series can be found here.

Dear Dreamers,

I am writing this from on board the Ethan Allen Express train to Albany. Yes, I will spending a few luxuriant summer days in the Berkshires at a very special dream seminar I just made up in my head. There, I will be drinking lots of wine and gossiping with friends, because wine and dreams and friends go together like peas and carrots and sporks, except, obviously, better. Anyway, did you know that the Ethan Allen Express train does not offer special high-end on-board furniture, or even a catalog of such? No, it’s just the regular old train decor, alas. But no matter. No Parsons table in the foyer means for fewer distracting mail to sort through, and that is important, because today we have a very important matter to discuss: DREAMS ABOUT BEING PREGNANT. Or about our parents being pregnant. Or about babies pooping. Or whatever falls in the general topic area.

If you’ll recall, the last time we convened, I asked for your dreams in this varietal, and, oh my, you delivered (ho ho ho) and with a vengeance! I am proud of you, dreamers, because you have some truly weird and wonderful and also practical and reasonable stuff going on in those noggins of yours! (By the way, I very much appreciated this sentiment from a reader: “Now if I have a random pregnancy dream, it’s pretty run-of-the-mill, with me being pregnant and becoming furious because I haven’t had sex with a guy in a really long time.” Well, I hear that, friend.)

Consider this the first trimester of pregnancy dreams. Shall we begin?


Full disclosure: Catie says that when she had this particularly vivid dream, she’d been playing “a LOT of The Sims on my phone.”

“My mom has another baby. In her fifties. I go home, or just am home. Baby is a girl, very tiny. ‘Why aren’t you into your sister?’ ‘I dunno, she’s kind of boring so far!’ I realize that I keep forgetting that she exists; I told some people yesterday about my brother but forgot to mention that I have a sister now, 24 years younger. I try to ask mom, “Was this planned, or an accident?” She deflects.

“She asks me to change a diaper. The baby is pooping a LOT — the diaper almost breaks. I don’t feel like diaper-changing so I just sit there watching her. Eventually I go to do it and it is not very much poop at all, and some of it looks like raw eggs, which is weird/horrifying. ‘Is this normal?’ I ask mom. ‘Just make sure it dries,’ she says. I Google ‘baby poop raw eggs’ and even then see the symbolism a little bit.

“At some point I think ‘but the toddlers on the Sims are so cute!’ I think maybe we are in the Sims.”

OK. The first thing I get from this dream is that you’re 24. You’re young, but you’re also firmly planted in adulthood. Even though frequently in our twenties we face issues that make us want to return to the womb, we can’t. (At the time of this dream, were you facing anything challenging that made you wish you were a kid again, even if just for a moment?)

The other thing, of course, is that in our twenties we may be starting to think about whether we want to have our own babies, if not now, then maybe at some point down the road. That your mother, instead, has done this in your dream means she’s pre-empted you, and it’s reasonable that you feel a little bit annoyed by having to deal with what’s her either accidental or on-purpose new member of the family when it’s YOUR life that’s really getting going right now. (How are you feeling for attention from your elders this moment?) Of course, that’s a literal response. There’s tons and tons of symbolism here. Babies in dreams are often thought to stand for new beginnings and innocence. Eggs, particularly the yolks, are dream symbols of life, ideas, and creativity. Broken eggs can represent fragility. And dreaming about baby poop has been said to mean that luck, money, or happiness are coming your way. I presume this is from the same lemonade-out-of-lemons folks who decided that a bird shitting on you was a good omen.

My symbolic interpretation? Your dream-mom’s baby is pooping out your creative potential, since you’re the one who’s been put in charge, here — whether you like it or not. And it’s up to you to scoop it up, to use it, to make sure the raw egg poop dries, which could be akin to following up, signing on the dotted line, making it all happen, or whatever cliché you prefer. The good news is, it’s not shit, it’s eggs (ideas! Creativity!). Meanwhile, a tiny baby usually symbolizes fears and a sense of one’s own helplessness and vulnerability. So it might be that this new creative or other pursuit represented is a little bit scary or even risky. Ask for help if you need it, and allow yourself to receive the attention and acclaim that you deserve. Don’t walk on eggshells: Do it. Change the diaper. Seize the day. And take a break from all the Sims-playing.


Maggie tells me that though she’s not a parent and has never been pregnant, she has dreams about being pregnant frequently. Her most memorable of such dreams, she says, is also a vivid nightmare. Here goes:

“I dreamed I was in high school (I was in my mid-20s at the time) and had given birth, but had no way to deal with the baby, so I put it in my locker while I went to school. Then, in the dream, I realized several days had gone by — it was a weekend — and I had never retrieved the baby. I couldn’t bear to think about opening up the locker. It was the most terror and remorse I can remember feeling, just contemplating the existence of the locker with the (presumably dead) baby inside. I think at that point I took a little bit of control of the dream and forced myself not to look, to just leave the locker because it was a dream. (At the time I hadn’t yet read the famous article about parents who’ve left their babies in the car, but when I did read it, I thought of that dream.)”

So, from the symbologists, finding a baby is akin to acknowledging your hidden potential. But if you forget having a baby, you’re trying to hide weaknesses from others. Dreams of high school, in my view, channel us into a more vulnerable time, a moment when we were less in control of our own lives, perhaps to help us cope with similar such feelings that we’re having again now. Are there changing circumstances in your life that you’re trying to adjust to, a part of you that you’re moving on from (an old apartment or house, work situation, relationship, or friendship)? Or, on the converse, might it be that you’re trying to tap into the previous you, perhaps because in the business of daily life, you’ve let something you care about — a hobby, a person, a moment to yourself, a way you once were, a baby in a locker, Pilates classes, I mean, it could be anything! — be neglected?

I’m impressed with your ability to lucid dream this nightmare out, but I think you owe it to yourself to lucidly (and in an awake mode) consider what in your personal or professional life you might have left behind and want to get back, what you want to acknowledge or address or regain despite your fears of what’s in the locker. Your dream is telling you you can do it.


Finally, a mysterious and intriguing recurring pregnancy dream from Mara:

“It usually starts with someone, who in the dream is my friend but is not actually identifiable with any real friend of mine, forcing me to go to the doctor.  The doctor tells me I’m pregnant, and my friend grimly says that she knew it.  I insist that it’s not possible, since I don’t have sex with men.  The doctor and my friend tell me that if I think hard, they’re sure I’ll realize it’s my fault.  I think hard and realize that, oh, no, I did kiss a boy once at summer camp.  (I didn’t, actually, and of course that doesn’t cause pregnancy, but in the dream it makes sense.)  I’m terrified and sad, and my friend is very harsh, and a little smug.  None of my friends want to speak to me any more.  I have to wear hospital gowns everywhere, and when I try to braid my hair people slap my hands.  My boss takes me for a walk on the beach and politely tells me that they can’t employ me anymore.  I decide to go to the library to read about childrearing, and the ocean follows me into the stacks.  I shout at it and tell it to go back, but it doesn’t listen, and I get the sense that it is somehow affectionate.  I try to explain to the staff that it likes me because I am pregnant.  They ask me to leave and take my ocean with me.  I am horrified to have ruined so many books.  I wake up feeling awful about the books and because I’ll have to raise a person by myself and I don’t know how and we’re going to be poor and miserable.  It often takes me a while after waking up to be sure I am not really pregnant.”

This, my dear Mara, is a shame dream. Everyone is against you, you poor thing. Your only friend is the ocean (which is awesome) but even it doesn’t listen to you. And you didn’t even do anything wrong, you know you didn’t! As to that ocean: big bodies of water in our sleeping minds can be representative of tranquility, but, alternatively, of powerful uncertainty. That this dream is recurring makes me think maybe it’s both. You are seeking tranquility in a time of uncertainty. I think you probably have this dream when factors beyond your control have caused you to feel alone in some way or judged. Or, maybe it’s about something you’ve kept long-hidden that you’re worried that will cause people to judge you. But from this dream you seem to be a kind-hearted person who cares about others (and books) and are trying to do the right thing. Remember, you should also be kind to yourself, whoever you are. Hang out with that ocean, it likes you. (Are you a swimmer?)

Now, no one has yet to write in with a Beanie Baby dream, but I’d like to close with this informative interpretive gem which I discovered online: “To see a beanie baby in your dream suggests that you are able to adapt to most situations. Consider the animal or the name of the beanie baby. The dream may have an underlying message or a pun.”

Sleep well as you cuddle with Mr. Catsby.

Jen Doll is a contributor to The Hairpin and The Atlantic Wire. Her first book is due out in Spring 2014. In her dreams, she has perfect vision.

Add a comment

Skip to the top of the page, search this site, or read the article again