You have probably heard that the emotions of a pregnant mother affect her baby. That`s why it`s quite common to hear people advise expecting mothers: “try not to be stressed,” “be happy always,” “don`t let your problems affect you.” And on and on their well-meaning advice goes. Yet we just took this grain of truth as a fact without knowing how it`s really happening. In the words of Judith Anodea, an American psychologist and author on body-mind integration, this is how she described how it happens biologically and psychologically inside a mother’s womb:
“For the developing fetus, the uterus is the first experience of body, the first home and environment, and the ground of being from which life emerges. The mother’s nutritional balance and her emotional states during pregnancy play a role in the texture of the child’s personal ground. When the womb is tight, the infant learns to contract her own body. When the mother is afraid or tense, chemicals flow through the uterine environment, stimulating a level of heightened energy that becomes a normal baseline state for the fetus inside. If the mother uses substances like tobacco, alcohol, or drugs, the child inside uses them too.”
Reading these words has enlightened me on what has probably happened when I was still forming. In my post here, I shared my experience of anxiety, fear, and worry, and how I learned about my infancy woundings.
My conception was unexpected, unwanted even. My mother, who was 19 years old by then, wasn`t prepared to have me. She didn`t even want me at first. Come my birth, my father decided that I stay in the hospital`s nursery because I was too small. He was also worried that my mom wouldn`t be able to take care of me. But according to my mom, she visited me everday. So that made me an incubator baby. Taking from Anodea again:
“Incubator babies are deprived of the mother’s touching and suckling. Seeing loving faces through glass without being touched is disembodying. Adults who were incubator babies may have a tendency to view their lives as surreal and put up with distant relationships without knowing how to bring them closer. There is a vague sense that something is missing from life, but they are unable to grasp what it is. Isolation feels normal and is therefore too easily accepted; they are missing the experience of safety and bonding, and therefore solid contact with their own body.”
As I have shared, I discovered from the Reparenting the Child Within (RCW) seminar that I have a wounding during my infancy. But after reading the book by Judith Anodea, it all made sense to me. I then took seriously to take steps in healing and reparenting my inner infant.
As part of the healing process, I did activities as advised by Anodea and by the facilitators of RCW seminar. Basically, the suggestion is to do activities that will connect me to my body like massage, working out, dancing, etc. So for a few weeks, I have been religously doing a zumba dance workout, alternating it with shibashi movements. I have yet to try yoga. Another thing that I`m doing is applying lotion on my skin. I am very lazy to do this, and I can only count with my fingers the times when my skin has tasted lotion. And just last week, I bought myself and my daughter bottles of lotion.
As for the reparenting process, the essence is for your present, adult self to act as a loving parent to your inner child. So there was one night when I recounted a certain event which has been bothering me. When I silenced my mind and try to listen to my body, I felt a pain in a small area on my chest. I felt small and powerless. While lying on our bed on my right shoulder, I followed what my body wanted to do, and it crumpled into a fetal position. So that was my infant self, or should I say fetal self, who is feeling very small and powerless.
I don`t know if my mom sung to me or read me a story while I was still in her womb, but during that night, when my loved ones were in deep slumber, I mentally sung lullabies to my infant self, the way I did with my daughter when I was pregnant. I even told my infant self a story about David and Goliath. After the mental reading and singing, I hugged my knees toward myself so tightly, a symbolism of hugging my infant self. I reaasured this inner infant of mine saying, “I love you, I am so excited that you are here. You are loved. You are wanted.”
When I was a few months old, my parents kept on telling me that I always wanted to be held and carried, that I would always cry whenever they put me down. I`m happy hearing from them that they have took turns in carrying me in their arms and that they didn`t left me crying out, just like what happened to my husband when he was a baby. Yes, he has his own woundings too, he knows that, but that`s another story.
I don`t know when can I fully heal my infant self, or when can I fully conquer my anxious, fearful, worry-wart self. Will it ever go away? Or will I live forever adapting to this? But as what my group psychotherapy professor said, “life isn`t perfect, the world we live in isn`t perfect.” So I guess, it doesn`t matter whether I conquer this anxious part or infant part of me or not, what matters is that I accept and love it as an integral part of me.