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Baby's Diary

“The history of man for nine months preceding his birth would, probably, be far more interesting, and contain events of greater moment, than all the threescore and ten years that follow it.” --Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1840

Both astonishment and delight must have registered on my face as I listened to a young couple in Albany, NY. The previous night they’d heard me speak on the theme, “Every Kid a Winner!” Now they were telling me about a conversation they’d had with their three-year-old son afterward. That conversation was prompted by comments in my presentation about a book I had recently read, and from which I took the Coleridge quote above. Here’s the background:

The title of the book had jumped at me from the shelf of the Parkland/Spanaway Library near my home in Washington State. It said,

          Babies Remember Birth by Dr. David Chamberlain

Come on! You gotta be kidding! I thought as I grabbed the book from the shelf. The notion that babies might remember being born flew in the face of much I’d learned about the newborn in the my 1950s.college classes: Child Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Educational Psychology, etc.

I still remember this description: “The newborn infant is a blank sheet—like the soft unmarked clay upon which an ancient Sumerian scribe might impress the wedge-form shapes of cuneiform letters.”

Blank sheet? No way! Unmarked clay? Certainly not! Not according to Dr. Chamberlain. Here was a respected researcher saying the infant comes into our world with memories—and stores memories of the process of getting here!

Dr. Chamberlain told about reactions of many children to questions such as: “Do you remember being in mommy’s tummy?” or “Do you remember being born?”

One child remembered that as he was being born there was a snake in there. It got wrapped around his neck and he thought he was going to die! He’d never been told about the umbilical cord that had cut off the oxygen supply to his brain. But he remembered and interpreted the experience on the basis of his childish understanding of what caused the problem.

A little girl remembered that she tried and tried to get born, but “couldn’t get through the door.” So they opened a window, and she came out through the window! She had never heard it discussed that she had been delivered by cesarean section.

In my presentation in Albany, New York, as I talked about the special relationship of a child to the biological mother, I told about Dr. Chamberlain’s book and recounted stories he reported. But I had never talked to anyone with personal experience in such matters. Then, the next night, the young couple came to me with their story.

“Mr. Smith, after hearing you last night, we asked our son, ‘Do you remember being in Mommy’s tummy?’

“‘Yeah!’ he answered with a happy lilt in his voice. But his daddy said,

“‘Were you afraid?’

“‘Oh, no!’ he said, ‘I was very happy. And I was like this!’ He placed his hands across his tummy, tucked his head down on his chest, and pulled his knee up and assumed a fetal position! Mr. Smith, we were astonished!”

So was I!

Little did I imagine that this was just the first of an on-going flow of “baby birth remembrance” stories I’d be told by parents attending Every Kid a Winner™ seminars.

One favorite story came the second night of a series in a suburb of Dallas, TX.

A mother reported, “After last night’s message, we asked our little boy, ‘Do you remember being born?”

“‘Sure,’ he said.

“What do you remember?”

“I remember the water, and the yarn, and I slid down the tunnel, and came out like a choo-choo!”

I’m almost certain the mother thought it was more like a very slow freight! ?

It’s interesting, but natural, that children frequently remember the umbilical cord. And many recall astonishing details. The cases continue to stack up—and they invariably thrill my soul and leave me in awe of the wondrous treasure a newborn is.

In the premier edition of the free “The Family Minute E-zine,” you’ll read the shocking answer a little boy in Bend, Oregon gave when asked, “Do you remember being born?”

Why is it significant that many children remember birth?

1. It tells us that babies come into our world with minds far better developed and equipped than we’ve ever dared dream possible.

2. It explains the womb-created affinity of the child for the mother—and accentuates our need to make the most of the fact that she is “Number One” with the child.

3. It suggests that experiences in the womb and during birth can enhance or hinder the attitudes and development of the child.

4. It underscores the great respect we should have for the preborn child and its sanctuary in the womb.

5. It reinforces our need to do what we can to minimize the child’s trauma during and just after birth.

And there’s much more! There are exciting implications that provide hope for children and families.

In future articles on this Web site and in “The Family Minute E-zine,” we’ll discuss other examples of babies remembering being born and talk about how these matters can help us to equip babies to be all they were born to be. Be sure to check back frequently and “stay tuned!”

Want to see if your little one remembers birth? Here are some guidelines:

1. Wait until the child’s verbal skill are adequately developed before asking. Usually this means two to three years of age.

2. Be sure the atmosphere is calm and the child is relaxed. Don’t bring it up when there are other children around who may interfere or make fun of the child for what he or she says.

3. If there are other adults present, cue them in to what you’re doing, and ask them to listen quietly, perhaps write down what happens, but not react or jump into the discussion.

4. Calmly call the child by name and casually ask either, “Do you remember being born?” or “Do you remember being in Mommy’s tummy?”

5. No matter what the child says, don’t overly react. Pay close attention and respond calmly by asking, “What was it like?” or “Then what happened?” or “Why did you do that?” or a similar question that will encourage the child to continue to reveal what he or she remembers.

6. Thank the child for telling you about it. Don’t “make a big deal” of it, but…

7. As soon as you can, write down exactly what was said.

8. Don’t discuss the matter in the presence of other children if you plan to ask them the same questions. You certainly don’t want to start competition about who has the best story about being born!

9. Realize that there can be a wide range of answers. Some may simply say, “uh-uh,” or “No.” But be prepared for remarkable responses as well. The Oregon mother mentioned in “The Family Minute E-zine” certainly didn’t expect the answer she got!

We’d love to hear about the experiences you have talking with your children about their remembering birth. If appropriate, we might want to share your story with other readers. If you’re interested in this possibility, click the “GUIDELINES” button.

As you continue to explore this Web site, you might want to read the light-hearted “Baby’s Diary” or the touching “A Story to Share.” “Top Tip for Big People” tells of a life-changing walk a dad made with his daughter. When you’re ready to lose yourself in a delightful bit of historical fiction, check out the award-winning novel about family life in the 1930s, Turn Back Time. Just click on “A Book in the Spotlight.” You can download, without charge, a generous more-than-ninety-page portion of this highly-acclaimed novel. Too, you might want to visit our [FAMILY STORE] to take a peek at our newest children’s picture book, 1-2-3, Special Like Me! with its uplifting message and magnificent illustrations from oil-on-canvas paintings by the talented Donna Brooks. And, by all means, make the most of the insights and suggestions in the no-cost “The Family Minute" E-zine”

Aren’t little ones special! We’re so happy that you’re a part of the growing multitude determined to strengthen families and help children reach their innate potential. Please tell others about this site and “The Family Minute Ezine.” And remember:

“To change the world tomorrow, love a child today!”

© 2004, Philip Dale Smith