When my oldest was a toddler, I came across a book named Babies Remember Birth by David Chamberlain. The book is wonderful and documents many stories of two, three and four year olds who share about their in utero life or their birth memory. They say that these memories are suppressed or crowded out as children age, just as adults forget more and more of the details of our past, only retaining the deeply impressive experiences.
I began reading with fascination and still remember when I first asked James if he remembered anything about when he was in my tummy. He was about two and half years old and had several words that he didn’t speak clearly, but as family members, we understood him. As I quizzed him, “Do you remember when your were in mommy’s tummy?” He answered “dirty wahgum.” I was shocked. He remembered “dirty water” when he was in my tummy?
I also remember later asking my Joy the same question. Her answer, at around three years old, was different. She made a “shhhhwhhhhh shhhhwhhhhh” sound and waved her arms independently of each other in wide, backward circles. She remembered swimming and the sound of the amniotic fluid?
Days later, while at a friends house, I was telling my nurse-friend, Cathy, about this and wondering if she would ask her daughter if she remembered any experiences from being in the womb. Cathy’s daughter and Joy are close to the same age so it was a good time to ask. Cathy doubted me when I told her about my conversation with Joy and of her answer. Naturally, I called Joy in and said, “Tell Mrs. Cathy what you remember about being in Mommy’s tummy.” This time, I got a completely different answer. This time, Joy squatted down into a little ball and tucked her head near her knees so she was in a little ball and made no noise.
Some time later when she was older, Joy and I were talking about when she was born and she said something to me about being pulled out … not pushed or squeezed or coming out but “pulled out.” And that was definitely the case. I was in labor for a long time. At the end of the day (10:30pm) the doctor became impatient as her big head wasn’t moving down the birth canal. He used forceps, braced himself against the birthing table and pulled her out by the head, splitting my body from front to back. It was not fun .. and there are no photos or videos that would have shown this so that she would know to use that particular terminology. She was definitely “pulled” out.
I share these stories to ask if you’ve heard of this phenomenon, read the book or ever asked your own young children if they remember anything about womb-life or their birth experience?