Tuesday, 14 April 2009


I've just read Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Transformation and Unconditional Love
by Martha Beck, the author of Finding Your Own North Star: How to Claim the Life You Were Meant to Live a life-coaching book which I actually found enjoyable and helpful to read.

Expecting Adam is her memoir of her pregnancy with her second child, a son who turned out to have Down's Syndrome and who completely changed her life. The book tells of a really mad and chaotic time and just reading it made me feel exhausted. Beck went from being a neurotic, repressed, super-high-achieving Harvard academic to starting to see life from a completely different perspective during the time she was expecting her son.

I have often heard people say they had their baby speak to them while pregnant, or that the baby told them its own name or other things like that. Despite knowing myself from my own pregnancies how much you can get to know about your baby before they are born, I never had such specific experiences and wondered if they could possibly be real. I think that after reading this book, I can understand that some children bring such experiences with them.

As Beck said, her mystical experiences with Adam are because of *him* - he brings them with him and they are incidental to him having Down's, which was a whole different part of the book. In fact, the parts that discussed his Down's horrified me. I know her experience was in 1987, but the language used horrified my 21st century sensibilities. The book often used the word 'retarded', and every single medical person she encountered advised her to have a late abortion when the condition was diagnosed. It is very much to her credit that she refused, despite the immense pressure she was subjected to, and despite the hugely misleading and downright wrong information she was given on the subject of Down's (referred to by the medical professionals she saw as 'Mongoloid Idiotism'!)

It is a sad indictment of the world when a world-respected research centre such as Harvard has such eugenic attitudes about the value of human beings. I can only hope that attitudes have changed there since.

This book was utterly bizarre. At points I was crying, at others I thought Martha had really lost her marbles. Some parts I found hard to believe and I cringed at others. But the bottom line is that, for anyone who has ever been pregnant and given birth, it is fasincating to read detailed accounts of other people's experiences of pregnancy and birth, and this is no exception.

1 comment:

Missy 'Lou' said...

I will have to get this book! Will have to show you the 1 minute blip on our recorded sonogram of Indigo. you can see her sucking her thumb, then she literally turns toward the camera and clearly looks like she mouths 'Momma'. Now, I'm not a loon (maybe), and the few I've shown the video part to also exclaim 'Oh My Gosh...She's saying 'Momma''.....it's really wild. when she was born (eyes wide open) people exclaimed 'she looks like an old soul in a new body'. well, to me now she looks like a sweet little girl who has temper tantrums and all that ;-)but back then I felt something mystical and spiritual about it all.