Meetings with an Unborn Child
In these columns, we go out on a limb to catch a glimpse of patterns that can’t be seen from safer ground. The “limb” on which our explorations depend is the premise of pre-existence-that we exist in some form before conception. With that premise, we’re free to consider the implications of parents’ pre-birth communication experiences and the revealing comments of young children. As we shall see, it is exciting when the evidence from these two sources overlaps.
The stories in this installment suggest one of the most intriguing patterns of possible connection between parent and child. Imagine the situation: In childhood, you encounter your own future son or daughter as a companion who visits your dreams and reveries or flashes across your mind’s eye at odd moments.
Margaret writes, “I knew and played with my three sons (two yet to be born) when I was still a child. I had many recurring dreams, around age seven, of riding bikes with three boys who were my sons, even though they were about my age or older. Always the oldest was the most clear to me, and the other two didn’t connect quite as strongly, though they were all firmly present. I always thought the oldest was cute. He was also really nice, smart, thoughtful, and took his responsibilities seriously, looking after his brothers and guiding our play. But he was still fun.” Margaret clearly identifies her childhood dream playmate with her firstborn son. The next story is more complex and raises the question of how such an identification is made. Donna recalls: “Right around the time I reached menarche, I became aware of a loving, guiding female presence. I think I always knew she would be with me as my daughter. I don’t remember analyzing much, only accepting. I decided then that my first child would be a girl and her name would be Kirsten. Later I decided wedlock was a horrible idea and I’d never bind myself thus, nor would I ever bear a child. Still Kirsten was with me. Certain places, certain people would bring her to mind. A blond girl would appear, spontaneously, in my mind’s eye. As I approached my twenties, I began to ’see’ her as a four-year-old. I could ’see’ or be aware of the little girl in my peripheral vision-and only as long as I didn’t look.
“A few more years and the desire to have babies struck. Suddenly marriage seemed tolerable. My first child was a girl, and I named her Kirsten. Once we were home and settled in and starting to learn each other, I realized that this little person wasn’t Kirsten. After a bout with colic we fell in love and still are.”
Donna bore three more children, all boys, and felt that her family was complete. She thought her youngest son might be the embodiment of the female presence she had sensed for so long. However, she continues, “As the kids grew, I started having the emotional freedom to start meditating again. When I relaxed, I began noticing a glowing white disc with a lavender rim. It was always waiting. Then I read “Models of Love” and was overwhelmed at one point by the beauty of childbearing. As I was glorying, I saw a pillar of light next to me, and I knew I would have another child.” Finally, Donna conceived her last child. “In a meditation the glowing white disc featured a purple fetus. I knew I was pregnant. I knew it was my girl.” Cicely was born eleven years to the day after Kirsten. “Cicely has always been with me,” says Donna. “This being is her.”
We may ask, “How do you know?” But the answer is a mystery. The sense of recognition, which may be completely convincing to the one experiencing it, is really not open to objective validation. Linda, an English mother, identifies her firstborn daughter as the girl she met in a vivid dream years earlier. As she says, “There has never been any doubt in my mind that it was her-I knew it the moment she was born.”
There is a hidden aspect to these stories which may be coincidental, or it may point to a deeper meaning behind these experiences. Linda was eighteen-nearly grown up-when she dreamed of her future daughter. She says, “I knew that this girl was my daughter… I remember feeling so happy that she had shown herself to me, especially as I had quite a hard time growing up and it was like a little message of hope and happiness for me to help me along when I needed it. I wasn’t planning on kids at the time as I was preparing for University and travel. I also didn’t feel any urgency with the dream-she wasn’t saying, ‘Have me now.’ She was just saying, ‘Hello-this is what you have to look forward to!’”
Like Linda, each of the young girls in this survey was coping with difficult situations around the time of her initial experience-from simple loneliness to sexual abuse. Donna moved at thirteen to a place she hated, and recalls that she “retreated into herself” for years. Margaret, who dreamed of bike riding with her three sons, says, “I think they felt bad for me because I didn’t have many friends, and I had been recently assaulted by a distant family member. The nice innocent fun we had riding our bikes, plus the slightly protective feeling I got from the eldest boy, helped me get through that time.”
With these circumstances in mind it would be easy to say, Aha!–these girls created imaginary friends to help cope with their stressful situations. But it seems equally possible that here is a special grace and kindness in life’ s patterns, whereby an unhappy child can be comforted and companioned by her own future children. After all, they would have an interest in the welfare of their intended mother.
What of the enigmatic memories that little children express, usually between the ages of three and seven? Do they ever provide evidence for these early connections? Brent was six years old when he began relating what seemed to be memories of a previous lifetime with an abusive father, ending in an early death. Among other details, he told his mother that he had chosen her. She took advantage of a moment when Brent was quietly absorbed in play to seek more information.
“I asked him why he chose me. He told me very matter-of-factly that he knew he couldn’t stand to live like that with that other dad any more, and his mother had somehow disappeared, and so he looked for another mom. And he saw me, but when I was a little girl. Then he came back to me when I was an adult and chose to be born to me because he liked me. He answered promptly, without thinking about any of this for a second! As I wrapped my arms around him and gave him a big kiss on the cheek and looked into his blue eyes, I told him, Brent, I am so glad that you chose me. I love being your mom and you don’t have to worry ever, because I will keep you safe and love you forever. He smiled and withdrew to get on with his playing with his army tank!”
The final story is a rare treasure because it includes evidence from both sources: a mother’s childhood experience and her child’s mysterious remark. From Australia, Jenny writes: “When I was 10 years old I did a drawing of how I would like to look if I was beautiful. It turned out great, which was weird because I was just past stick figures. My eleven-year-old sister instantly grabbed it and criticized it. “The eyes are too slanted, cheekbones too high, jaw too square for this kind of face,” she said. She then changed it, saying she just wanted to fix it for me. I was really upset and took the drawing away to make it right. I couldn’t start again because I couldn’t really draw. To me it was a miracle. The drawing seemed to take on a life of its own. I began talking to the girl in the picture. She was the classic ‘invisible friend.’ I could really sense her there and occasionally I thought I heard her answer.
“Then when I was fourteen our family went to see ‘South Pacific’ at the movies. When the girl called Liat on Bali Hai came on, I thought, ‘Wow, she looks a lot like my ‘invisible girl.’ On the way home, I was thinking ‘I wonder why she looks like her. Maybe I should call her Liat.’ Then I heard her respond! ‘Because I’m part Islander and my name is Lee but you can call me Liat.’ She was yelling in my ear and I looked around to see if anyone else could hear. Naturally they couldn’t.
“I guess I had always been kind of weird compared with other people. My Scottish Nanna said I was fey. This time I thought, I’m really crazy now. My invisible friend refused to go away so I asked her who she was. She said she was my daughter. That was a stunner. I asked her when she would be born. ‘When you’re thirty-six.’ ‘Don’t I have any choice?’ ‘You have already chosen,’ she said.
“Liat hung around for years. We continued to talk and argue, discussing all kinds of metaphysical things. Sometimes she didn’t know much more than I did. Other times she amazed me with her knowledge. Occasionally I would get images of her at different times in her life. She was really beautiful.”
By the time Jenny was nearly thirty-six, she was twice married and divorced and had four sons. Now Liat started communicating about being born soon. “I banished her,” says Jenny, “but she came back and sat in the background not saying much.” Jenny soon found herself involved in a love affair and despite precautions she became pregnant. “I told Colin all about our future daughter and described her. He brought me a photo of one of his sisters. She looked uncannily like Liat. When I explained about the island girl, he said ‘Yes, that’s the Samoan in her.’ He just accepted everything. When she was born, Colin named our little girl Amy-Lee. I hadn’t told him the name I had used all those years.
“When Amy turned three she said, ‘Mummy, I used to know you when you were a little girl, didn’t I.’ It was a statement. She is six now and beautiful. Who knows what the future holds for her-she is already extraordinary and much loved by many people.”
Special thanks to Jenny Strong for permission to reprint part of her story. Her full account can be read online at MuseNet.