Caitlin Fikes begins her essay about life in the womb saying, “I believe that there is a common and insidious cultural misconception with regards to fetuses: the subtle idea that birth is the true beginning of a human’s life, not only because that is when he or she is first socially acknowledged and welcomed by the rest of the species, but also because deep down we assume that birth is when the young humans themselves first experience anything of significance in the world. After all, what could fetuses be doing in there if not sleepily kicking around in the womb, waiting for life to begin? We seem to have this perception that a fetus is utterly unaware of anything, pending the moment of awakening.”
Fikes says that scientific studies have confirmed that fetuses can hear voices and distinguish between unique speech patterns, allowing them to recognize (and prefer) their mother’s voice over any other’s. It has also been shown that a fetus will learn to recognize a song or story repeatedly played/read to them, retaining a familiarity with that tune or story post-birth. This is referred to by scientists as “preconscious learning.”
Now we read that new research out of Lancaster University in the United Kingdom demonstrates that fetuses will react to face-like shapes in the same way infants do. “This tells us that the fetus isn’t a passive processor of environmental information. It’s an active responder.” This paper is trailblazing because it’s the first real study on what fetuses see and confirms that they do have visual experiences while in utero. The womb is not pitch-black like many assume (and nor is it silent either).
Very young children are capable of experiencing deep anguish and grief in response to trauma, loss, and personal rejection. Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of psychiatry at the Yale University Child Study Center, says “infants are highly attuned to mood even when in the womb making them susceptible to things like parental depression.” The reality is that a 4-month-old can be clinically depressed for if they do not get the love and care they deserve and need they begin to withdraw.
Children are programmed to interact, and the quality of that interaction is crucial for their emotional, physical and mental development. Thus, warns Pruett, “We need to help parents early on with things like maternal depression, marital conflict and violence in the home.” These things do cause suffering in the hearts and minds of the young.
In the beginning we just are a being with the capacity to feel. At the moment of our conception things change, we grow, take shape, destiny awaits us in human form. In the womb we transverse millions of years of evolution, each second a tremendous wind on our souls. Then we are born in spirit and flesh, totally open to relate to other hearts with intimacy, love, and joy. As babies we need a holy touch, an affection and understanding in which to bathe ourselves, a space where every remnant of separation is cast aside – looking to unite in bliss with the beings that have brought us into the world. It is in this that the heart is completely visible, though vulnerable, needing unbreakable bonds of love and trust.
Deep within is our pure being which
has incarnated into this body.
This being is ultra-sensitive.
From the moment of conception this pure being
is picking up subtle impressions from the environment
through the heart center of pure feeling.
The essence of our suffering as beings is seen in the pain of separation (rejection of our being) that cuts into this needed bond of total love. Something seems to go wrong as we approach life on earth, and this wrongness of feeling often begins in pregnancy. Our incarnating beings are supersensitive to the emotional environment so when a mother smokes or does drugs, for instance, or the child is unwanted and unplanned, there are emotional waves of disturbance that become very apparent to a being even though no mind is yet present or conscious. Today we see that emotions or emotional environments are very contagious and one person’s bad mood can act like a virus and infect the people around them.
On a being level we could say that we come to earth looking for pure and perfect love and don’t find it. Yes, a mother may offer pure love at the birth but the before and after is a river delta of complex problems, struggles and difficulties. If the love between the husband and the wife is not totally harmonious the emotional environment will not be that way for the inbound vulnerable being.
Unfortunately, we have the medical community waiting, making our birth a problem; ripping the experience away from its natural and most beautiful state. We have had the pharmaceutical companies doing their best to drag us away from the breast and the nipple and mother’s warmth and natural immune strengthening milk and doctors and nurses are so ready to inject toxic chemicals into the newborns bloodstream with their vaccines. Life on earth!
In infancy the flashes of pain that come from rejection are the same as the pains of misunderstandings that arise from poor communication with adults. In practice, because of the hurt we feel deep down, and our own separation from ‘that which is hurt,’ we tend to manifest our uncaring and insensitivity in many ways that hurts others and us.
Believe it or not this essay is not an anti-abortion paper. We could end abortion and still be hurting all the future generations of beings with our insensitivities, with our lack of caring and inability to listen at deep levels of being. If we spared every life in the womb but continue with open hostility and terrible arrogance when they arrive what is the good in that?
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So, this paper pleads for a new level of sensitivity, a new level of love and understanding, a compassion and empathy that starts with fetuses, the newborn, young children, teenagers, adults and old people. We all need more love, our survival as a race probably depends on it.
There are so many ways to kill or rape a being if its joy. We need to dig deep into human nature and come up with a plan to stop all the killing, all the rape and all the sexual child abuse. Perhaps we have sealed our fate, like the people in Noah’s time, because we cannot even imagine a world so full of love that human evil has no place. We are vulnerable as all newborns are, yet it is our very distance from human vulnerability that will probably do us in.