It all started when I was in the womb. I could hear them. Dad yelling at Mom. Mom pouting, burning the dinner. Hamburgers turning into charcoal briquettes. The first Hard Rock Café.
All the yelling back and forth. “Hey, I can hear you!” “Stop it—this is not good for me!” I was already a psychologist in the womb.
Then the pain—Ultrasounds. Yeouch! I tried to push them away. And I know a neuron or a thousand got mixed up on their way home and ended up somewhere else. That’s what I blame for my memory problems. But there’s more, so much more.
There was birth. Was that birth? Knock mom out and use the forceps. Grab and go. Baby yanking. “Hey, that’s me!” I’m forever deformed with a kink in my neck.
I’ve heard that usually the baby gets to decide when to leave the lovely womb and venture into the unknown, and see mom for the first time. If only!
So there I am after birth. Where’s mom? It’s cold, stinky, bright. And who are these people grabbing me, scraping me, poking me? Mom, Mom! Stop these bullies!
Worse, then I’m put in my own room, away from mom. Or rather, I’m alone in a wailing room, a wall of wailing. Wailing, lonely babies in shock. We keep going over what just happened. We were enjoying ourselves swimming and bobbing along with mom, getting a little tight maybe. But hearing her voice as well as her body gurgles. Then all of a sudden mom stops moving, we get a little high—was that pot? Then the big yank. Life started not with a big bang but a big yank.
A yank into obnoxious smells—like smelling salts, rough touches—like sand paper, bright lights—hey, I’m not ready for the stage! Then they poke you and stick you with needles, vacuum, take things out, put things in. I didn’t know if I was coming or going. So stressed. Then the wailing room.
So there I am in the baby wailing room. A wailing wall of unhappiness. And I think, “there go my stress levels.” I knew, because I was already a psychologist then. There go my stress levels: What’s that going to do to my health and longevity? Just thinking about it, they went up even more. I knew that my stress response systems were screwed—for life. The stress response gauge got set to not flight—I couldn’t run away, not fight –what could a teeny weeny me do? My stress response was set to “freeze”—just breathe, don’t move or you will die—for the rest of my life. Whenever the stress response kicks in I can’t think. Just breathe, quietly, or they will kill you.
So in my early hours, instead of cozying up with mom, I’m there all stressed—give me a tranquilizer please! I’m screaming with the rest of them. But then it gets quiet.
Mmm, sugar water! Mmm. Tastes good. Quieter now. Then infant Formula. Oh no, I can’t digest it, ahrgg…dead sleep…if too-deep sleep doesn’t actually kill me.
Hey, formula doesn’t help my brain or body grow! It welcome pathogenic bacteria into my body forever. There goes my immune system too! Thanks a lot, guys!
It was a war zone, that hospital. I could feel a shell of self-protection growing around my heart and my thinking. It’s impairing my intelligence! Yes, I actually thought that. I’m going to be less sensitive, less open, and have a harder time making friends. Thanks a lot, guys!
There goes my confidence. Just like the fairy tale’s handless maiden who lost her hands to the greed of adults around her.
Then I had some real gratitude. Oh, thank god I’m not a guy. They were the most miserable babies. Some doctors—I hear even today—right after the boy arrives, take out the knife and get it done, if you know what I mean. Slash, snip. All gone. Boom. I’m not so dumb to believe that doctors intend to harm babies at birth. They actually donate all the foreskins to good causes. It’s not a little shell of protection those boys build then. Nope, it’s a bunker. Wouldn’t you? Love, what’s that? Trust, what’s that? Safety, ae! Instead, they spend their lives looking for safety—building walls, bombs, weapons. Whatever it takes. Danger and pain could be anywhere, everywhere at any time. Stay alert and ready to run or fight.
The boys are deeply wounded just like the fairy tale fisher king who suffers a wound to his deep self life long.
All we babies had been pruned already and we were just born. Have you seen those trees and bushes shaped like Mickey Mouse or Donald duck? That was us. The hospital industrial complex made us into cogs for the great machine. They wanted us to be quiet—whatever it took. Just shut up, says the world.
We got to be born in a way explicitly designed by human intelligence. Huh? Human intelligence– is that something like military intelligence? Impose stress to make babies stupid and self centered? We have a great future—in the machine, the only place we feel safe with shutdown selves. We can become another dead, dull adult: ‘Don’t feel, don’t be alive, shut up and obey.’ ‘Do your job in the machine, the matrix, and keep quiet.’
When I can’t take the self-suffocation anymore I lose my temper and lash out. I feel the need for power, to boss everyone else like I was bossed and pushed around. I want to be the one in control. I want to be the one separating babies from moms and punishing them for being born. I want to force feed them, force sleep them, force teach them. Force! It’s all about force.
But then I met a baby who was born in a different way. The baby gave the signal and got everything going. And mom was ready and moved around to help her get out. And it was almost fun. They both got high on each other. Her mom welcomed her with open arms. No separation, no scraping, poking, prodding. She got to find her way up to mom’s magical breasts and start feeding. She stays with mom day and night, cuddling and snuggling. They don’t want to let go. And she feeds at will. She’ll be the one smart adult in the world!
Meanwhile, after our traumatic beginnings, the rest of us will spend the rest of our lives trying to figure out what we did wrong, and we’ll never feel right.
Featured Photo Shutterstock/Kichigin
Ang, Jr., E.S.B.C, Gluncic, V., Duque, A., Schafer, M.E., & Rakic, P. (2006). Prenatal exposure to ultrasound waves impacts neuronal migration in mice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103(34), 12903–12910.
Harm from medicalized birth practices here
Liu, W.F., Laudert, S., Perkins, B., MacMillan-York, E., Martin, S., & Graven, S. for the NIC/Q 2005 Physical Environment Exploratory Group (2007). The development of potentially better practices to support the neurodevelopment of infants in the NICU. Journal of Perinatology, 27, S48–S74.
Harm from infant circumcision here
Benefits of breastfeeding vs infant formula here