The May 1999 issue of the Ladies Home Journal featured a cover story on the McCaughey septuplets. Much of the article continued to praise the undoubtedly well meaning and obviously devoted parents. Yet even the "cream puff journalism of this ladies magazine eventually addressed the serious problems most of these seven small children suffer. The litany of difficulties include eye surgery for one and glasses for another. One boy was barely sitting up at his developmental first birthday. Two of the girls have severe reflux and have had more trauma inflicted upon them with esophageal surgery. Post-operatively, the children are still being fed through stomach tubes. The reporter commented in bemusement that both girls, "have so far managed to overcome medical science and the problem persists." One of these little girls also can not sit up and was described as being the size of a six month old infant.
During the same month a local Georgia newspaper headlined: Court drops charges against women in fetal alcohol case-Fetus ruled not a human being. The case involved a woman accused of trying to drink her fetus to death. The child survived but was born with a blood alcohol level of 0.199 percent, twice the level considered intoxicated under Wisconsin law where the case was tried. A mix-up in embryo implantation led to the birth of a black baby to white parents who surrendered the child to his genetic parents. Why are we not surprised that the custody exchange was described as "very emotional, very strained, very difficult"? The birth mother carried the child to term and cared for him for four months.
The enlightened treatment of birth trauma and the clarifying messages of pre- and perinatal psychology unfortunately still have not quite reached the hinterlands. Yet enormous progress has been made, largely due to the pioneers in this field several of whom are featured in this double issue of the Journal. A reprint of a 1990 address Finding Our Voice by APPPAH founder Thomas Verny, MD, D Psych, FRCP(C) and an article by Shirley Ward, M.Ed., DipEd., Birth Trauma in Infants and Children offer observations into the history and progress of pre-and perinatal psychology. Two articles The Biopsychosocial Transactional Model of Development: The Beginning of The Formation of An Emergent Sense of Self in the Newborn and The Effects of Domestic Abuse on the Unborn Child (coauthored by Thomas Verny with two of his students, Donis Eichhorn, RN, Ph.D and Amy L. Gilliland, B.A.) give us glimpses into the thoughts of individuals who will help propel this work into the future. Another student Bobbi J. Lyman, M.A., who is a Ph.D. candidate at the Fielding Institute, explores Antecedents to Somatoform Disorders: A Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Hypothesis. Mac Freeman, Ph.D., in Before I Am, We Are, brings charming wisdom to his concept of the "duet" of mother and child-before and after birth, while music therapist, Giselle E. Whitwell, R.M.T. echoes and embellishes this idea in her article The Importance of Prenatal Sound and Music. Millicent Adams Dosh, MA, suggests in Prenatal and Perinatal Foundations of Moral Development that solutions to aberrant behavior may be found in viewing "moral development on a continuum, from conception through death." Christine Caldwell, Ph.D., LPC, ADTR write in Dying To Be Born, and Being Born To Die: Cell Death As a Defining Pattern In Human Development and Death:
One of natures most elegant synchronies occurs at the doorway of our two greatest life transitions-birth and death, they both involve a cessation of self the way we have known it and a journey into the unknown. Both involve cataclysmic physiological changes that permanently alter us.
Joann O'Leary, MS, MPH and Cecilie Gaziano, PhD, MA, present their research on The Role of Childhood Memory Scores in Parenting in Pregnancy and Early Postpartum. Their conclusions indicate that, "as expectant parents begin the developmental tasks of pregnancy, their own histories begin to resurface, consciously or subconsciously."
The Board of Directors of APPPAH invites you to attend the 9th International Congress of the organization from December 3-6, 1999 at the Cathedral Hill hotel in San Francisco. The conference theme is Birth and Consciousness in the New Millennium. Pre Conference Workshops on December 2 and 3 include opportunities with Judith O. Weaver, Terry Levy, Bob Mandel, Aletha Solter and Gay and Katheryn Hendricks. Post Conference Workshops on December 7, include offerings by Joseph Chilton Pearce, Jeannine Parvati Baker, Peter Levine, Ray Castellino, Jon Turner and Isabella Barajon. The theme of the Congress seems to have been inspired by Shakespeare's well known and wonderful line from The Tempest, O brave new world that hath such people in it.
Ruth J. Carter, Ph.D.
Georgia College and State University