By Jasmine Wood
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with plentiful leftovers to fill the fridge! The following conversation is one that took place between my two year old daughter and me early one morning. It made me laugh out loud, but also it inspired me to think on a subject I find fascinating, how our earliest memories are formed.
“Do you remember being in my belly?” I asked little Rita Cassidy. She responded with a quick “Yes!” So I ventured further into the mysterious world of prenatal memories and asked “What were you doing while you were in there?” To this she replied “Rita was eating toast!”
I got a comical response to a question that child psychologists and researchers have been looking into for decades now. When do we begin to form memories and how do these early memories affect our adult lives? For a long time many scientists believed that we do not truly start to form memories till around the age of three or four!
But, there is a small group of psychologists and researchers who believe that memories can actually start from birth! There exists an even smaller group of “memory professionals” who believe that memories start not from birth, but rather from the moment of conception!
These memories are not the type of memory that one can recall, but rather memories that lie in our subconscious and may possibly create behavioral patterns that we carry with us through our adult lives. This is a very intriguing line of thought to me. It is also a little bit scary! I mean, parents already carry the pressure with them of ensuring their tiny child’s life is full of happy memories. To think that subconscious memories may lead to behavioral patterns that are carried with us for a lifetime starting from conception, that is a lot on mom and dad’s plate!
Irrational fears, phobias, unexplained positive and negative associations, all of these are concepts that most adults struggle to comprehend. Perhaps, the reason that many of us cannot explain or attribute a life event to our own fears or negative thought patterns is because they were established before we began to form our true memories! The answers lie hidden away scattered throughout our subconscious.
In a culture where the art of birthing has become a medical event as opposed to a spiritual family event, it is not a far stretch to think that traumatic memories from birth may be carried with us!
For many decades now, babies have been separated from there mothers immediately after birth, left alone in an isolated, brightly lit hospital nursery. Only to be tended when the clock says it is time and a nurse’s schedule allow, rather than when the newborn baby gives its natural cues and cries out for its mother. Perhaps, the large percentage of adults who suffer from anxiety related disorders are merely reliving behavioral patterns that were established at birth!
What does all of this mean to us mothers? In a compassionate, knowledgeable community such as New Paltz we see the results of this line of thinking play out every day. Mothers and fathers who choose to have hospital births but question and reject many standard procedures and protocols, in order to give their little child the best possible start. Families who choose to give birth at home with the presence of a midwife, reenacting an ancient tradition and enabling their child’s first memories to form in the heartfelt center of their home.
This being said, I do not want to dismiss the help and many benefits that medical interventions can provide to blossoming families, but rather, to empower parents to trust their intuition and feel secure in the fact that they know what is best for their family, even in the presence of the medical community.
As parents we are given much power, with power comes responsibility. The responsibility to do our best for our children, the best way we know how. All this responsibility is most definitely scary but it can also be empowering. Let us continue to support each other as mothers, as women, and as friends. When difficult decisions are at hand it is not always advice that is sought after, but rather a kind shoulder to lean on, the empathetic ear of a friend who will simply listen.
By creating a space of love and heart-centered wisdom in our homes and in our communities, we may have the ability to create those same pathways in the minds of our young children. Pathways that our children can carry with them long after they move out of our homes and into their own. Isn’t this the most empowering and inspiring concept to carry with us as parents from day to day!
Till next time, Be Well!
For more on the subject of prenatal memories check out the book Immaculate Deception 2, Myth, Magic and Birth by Suzanne Arms. We have a copy available at the New Baby New Paltz lending library!