A Father’s Perspective of the Miracle of Life
The intrauterine life of the fetus consists of 40 weeks of complete immersion in the womb. This environment exposes the child to the nurturing and devouring nature of the mother archetype. While the child has direct exposure to both the physical and symbolic mother during their gestational experience, they also feel the effects of physical and symbolic father from the environment both parent’s choose to create during the pregnancy experience. While immersed in the womb, the child’s environment, health, and development is completely taken care of by the mother. She, in turn is effected by the external environment in which she lives. While pregnancy can be rocked by both good times and bad, stress and those rare occasions of relaxation, the environment both parents create for the developing fetus greatly affects its future developmental outcome.
The intra-uterine experience of the child can only be compared, as the complete bio-physiological needs of the child are met while completely immersed in a water based environment. However, the paradise of complete immersion ends, as the traumatic experience of birth literally initiates the life-sequence from a water-based environment, in which life is lived through the mother to an air-based environment, in which the newborn must become responsible to maintain its own life force with the loving help of his or her parents.
The most incredible experience I had during my life was to be present at the birth of my two children. While born four years apart, the miracle of childbirth was a very similar experience on both occasions.
The hospital room and operating table were cold and sanitized, yet somehow, life found its way into that sanitized world. In that cold and lifeless room room, I witnessed the the miracle of birth take place; yet what was most amazing to me was the small, yet significant details that occur when a child takes in their first breaths of life. As my son was born to this world, he exited his home of the last 39 weeks a bluish-purple being, his blood still non-oxygenated. As he screamed out his first breaths of life, I saw the biological process of oxygenation take place, and the color of his skin turned from bluish-purple, to purple, and then to bright red. As his system began to regulate, his color began to stabilize to a soft pink tone as he became accustomed to breath. The nurses then placed my son on a small table and handed me a pair of scissors to cut the umbilical attachment he had to his mother. At that moment, a reverie struck me: I was about to permanently separate my son from the complete dependence he had on his mother for the last 39 weeks and initiate his life’s journey to become his own, independent being. The experience was similar for both of my children, and I cannot help but think that this is somehow a collective phenomenon as it relates to the sanctity of childbirth, and the reveries active fathers must feel as it relates to the birth of their children.
The birth of a child begins a new developmental sequence for the newborn and continues the process of individuated development of the parents by initiating new life lessons as it relates to learning how to parent. At the moment I saw both my son’s born, the 39 weeks of dreams, aspirations, preparations, and planning that led up to their birth came to fruition as I saw my son’s face for the first time.
It is my belief that the dreams and aspirations a mother and father have for their child come to fruition the minute their child stares them face to face. That was the experience I felt when I saw my two children for the first time. Author Robert Bly (1990) writes about the effects parents’ dreams have on their children when he alludes to a belief that the mother carries the key to her son’s psyche underneath her bedtime pillow. This phenomenon is no different for fathers, who also hold aspirations for their children.
In Hesse’s book, the mother and father of Siddhartha had clear dreams for their child, and this was no different for my wife and I at the time of our children’s arrival to this world. It is a normal occurrence for parents to dream about the life of their child. However, it can also lead to a pathological experience for both parties if a child’s parent(s) dream through the life of their child, neglecting their personal dreams, while hyper focusing on what the child should aspire towards. In these circumstances, the child is left to answer and emulate one or both parent’s dream, and is never left to formulate their own individual aspirations.
Looking back on the moment my wife informed me that she was pregnant until the point of my two children’s birth I can recollect a process in which I slowly began to care for another individual whom I had yet to see. We actively made plans that would assure our childrens’ future success. During her pregnancy, we actively engaged one another about the dreams, goals, and aspirations we had for the child who was developing in her womb, yet whom we had not laid eyes on.
Children are the products of our dreams as parents. They not only pass on our genetic lineage, but they also live, develop, and aspire to their own goals. They do this, all while teaching us how to be a good enough parent through mutually shared experiences. While our personal growing up experience is intimately linked to the experience we create for our children as parents, this will be explored in further chapters. For now, we will focus on the perspective child-birth and child rearing practices opens up to parents, and engage first hand the miracle of life. The miracle of life is just that, a miracle that affords us the opportunity to see creation first hand, live, learn, and love through the experience we share with those we create.
Bly, R. (1990). Iron John: A book about men. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.