Pre-Natal Memories

Sleepy Baby Mary Cassatt

Sleepy Baby by Mary Cassatt

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

And before you were born I consecrated you.”

— Jeremiah 1:5

The day Ruth turned two, her godmother dropped by to celebrate her birthday. Since Ruth was articulate for her age, her godmother wanted to try an experiment she had about read in a hospital newsletter. The article stated that if you asked a young child, when they knew enough words to communicate but before they were ‘too old’, they could tell you about their life in the womb. So we decided to test this premise.

Ruth was very tiny but smart, so she startled people with her excellent verbal skills. With her attention completely on her toy, my daughter answered in short, clipped sentences. I felt a bit foolish as I asked her,

“Ruth, do you remember when you were in mummy’s tummy?

She answered, “Yaaa.”

So then I wondered if she remembered any details,

“What was it like?”

Again Ruth could only spare a one word answer,

“Warm.”

“What else was it like?” I questioned.

To which Ruth answered quite succinctly, “Dark.”

“What could you see?” I probed, but Ruth was frustrated by my dumb question,

”Nothin; it was dark!”

So I scrambled, “What did you do in my tummy?”

Ruth said nonchalantly, “Dwimming.”

I checked to make sure I understood her, “Swimming?”

Ruth nodded.

“Did you like living in my tummy?” I asked.

She nodded again.

Then I thought of a really good question.

“Do you remember coming out, being born?”

Ruth scrunched up her nose and sighed, “Yaaa.”

“What was it like?”

She stopped playing, looked up and said in disgust, “Like a B.M.!!!”

(This is how we referred to a bowel movement with our children.)

That answer shocked me into silence. I looked over at Ruth’s godmother. She raised her eyebrows and mouthed one word.

“Wow.”

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