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After originally writing Love Letters Before Birth and Beyond seventeen years ago, I tried to find a publisher for the collection. Although I received compliments on the writing, no one seemed to believe there was a market for them. Two years later, Thomas Verny published The Secret Life of the Unborn Child. I was delighted to have confirmation of my beliefs, but was too busy rearing a child to work on the book any more.
Now the book has come out into an environment that is far more receptive to the idea of a mother-child relationship before birth, thanks to people like Dr. Verny and so many other APPPAH members. However, it wasn't until just a few weeks ago that I realized why these letters were so important for me to write...and now, to have published.
Some friends and I were having a discussion about birth order and its effect on personality. This talk led me to share that I had had a brother whom I never had the chance to know because he died of a brain tumor at the age of four and a half. I explained that it wasn't until two years ago that I had finally done the arithmetic correctly and realized that he had died less than two years before I was born, and that I was born into a grieving family. This awareness explained the fact that, although I had always known I was loved, I had felt that, as a young child, I was held at arm's length. It also explained why my first memories of my parent's faces were of pain and sadness.
As I continued to unravel the timing of my birth, I realized that my mother conceived me within a year after my brother, Rickie, had died. I was carried in her womb during a time of grief. My mother's description of the year after Rickie died was that she was \"numb\" and \"doesn't remember anything.\" She may have been beginning to feel again during the time she carried me, and yet I have to ask, \"What was she feeling\"?
I originally wrote Love Letters to my unborn child, simply because I was compelled to do so. The choice was not a conscious one. I was not aware of encouraging my baby's pre-natal development in any way. I only wanted to \"connect\" with him-to reassure him that I knew he was present, that he was loved, and that I was present with him. And so, in this way, I was led to tell our story.
Now, that story has led to the discovery and telling of my own birth story. The compassion I feel for my mother, father, brothers, and myself is as profound as the grief I was born into. Self-awareness unfolds from that story, day by day, and for it, I am deeply grateful.
Mary Knight is a professional writer and facilitates writing workshops. She is an editor for the Association of Unity Churches and is currently working on a pre-natal ministry program.
Love Letters Before Birth and Beyond by Mary Knight, Traverse City, Michigan, Single Eye Publishing, 1997, $14.95. (Phone orders: 1-888-929-9150)