This doesn’t promise to be a deep and intellectual post like the title might suggest it would be, I just want to vent a little about babies and birth, and welcoming a new child into a family.
Our birth culture has a phrase, maybe you’ve heard it, that is used VERY often by mothers, and doula’s and midwives (maybe doctors too?). I see it used mostly on the internet, but I’ve heard people say it too.
“Welcome Earth Side Little One”
When I hear this, or read it, I am baffled by it. Where was your baby if not on earth when you were toiling in labor for that beautiful child? Is your child an alien? Was he or she floating in outer space? While you felt the kicks and punches and rolls in your belly, were you actually feeling the movements like that new Huggies contraption that dad’s can wear to feel what mom feels? If you have no idea what I’m talking about here is a link. Was your baby in heaven waiting to be delivered and then you would be able to say that they were ‘on earth’ simply because they were brought out of your belly? How did they get into your belly in order to come out if they were not there already? Or were you the mother floating in space your whole pregnancy (I often feel as if Pregnancy brain put me in outer space).
Obviously we know the science, a sperm and egg meet one day and they decide that one plus one equals three and a child begins to form. We know that after only about 7-9 days that baby is attached to the uterine lining and the placenta is beginning to nourish the baby… we know that we can see them on ultrasound after only about 3 weeks gestation (which is approximately 2 weeks after implantation. We know that we can count heart beats by using a hand held Doppler at about 8-10 weeks gestation (that is two weeks less than the number the doctor will tell you you are, because your due date is based on your last menstrual cycle not on the baby’s actual age). We know that using ultrasound technology we can actually see a baby (looks a bit like a gummy bear on a less than stellar ultrasound machine) at about 8 weeks.
All that evidence points to the baby being in a woman’s belly all along, and yet when they are born we coo and gurgle at them and say “welcome earth side!” I am not trying to make a mole hill into any sort of mountain here, I’m just pointing out what we already know… that baby has been on earth for 9 months already! We even saw them on a video screen most likely during that time period.
So why do we say it? I’ve said it, and then felt silly afterward, but here is what I think it boils down to… a baby is sort of abstract during pregnancy. We feel them move, watch them grow, but we can not imagine the color or texture of their skin or hair, we can not smell them, we can not breathe them in, until they are in our arms. We hold them in our wombs but can not understand how human they are, how present they have been all along, how emotionally driven they are, until they are born.
There are some who support the idea that a baby in utero has memory, some people even claim to remember when they were born, I’ve heard the testimony of a two year old on her own birth, and if you do a little google search you can hear some children’s account of their own births…. I don’t know if they are parent lead, or if they are actual memories, it is suggested that the part of the brain responsible for memory isn’t developed enough for at least long term memory at that stage of life. However there is significant evidence of the part of the brain that feels emotions being almost fully developed in infancy, so some portion of memory may actually exist. This child has formed some feelings about their birth, about their life before birth, all while being ‘earth side’.
We don’t have to look at this as any sort of significant thought, it really isn’t a significant thought, but what if we stopped acting like a child before birth is some far removed imaginary thing… what could that do for our culture? Could it change the tide on abortion? Could it change the way women and their infants are cared for in birth? Could we begin to see life as having started before birth? How would that impact us?
Anyway, this is just the random musings of a doula with little else to do but think about babies! Hopefully not boring, or worse yet, offensive…lol.
Have a Cherished Birth!