manuscript: prenatal emotional development - part II intro

This is a continuation of an unpublished manuscript of approximately 25,000 words - an exploration of the experiential evolution of emotional capacity and perspective in an unborn child - the child's relation to the mother-womb, to mother-feeling and to exterior emotional energies. Part I of the series begins here.

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PRENATAL EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT:
AN EXPERIENTIAL JOURNEY

by Jai Jonathan Daemion, M.S., M.Ed.

© 1983-2009 Syncresis. All rights reserved.

PART II

DIFFERENTIATING DIMENSIONAL LEVELS
OF PRENATAL EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

From the foregoing we can perhaps begin to realize that the evolution of affective potency in the prenatal child – i.e., the capacity to feel and to respond emotionally – does not (indeed, cannot) occur as a sudden, no-time breakthrough into the vast new realms of emotional experience. And despite the long and exhaustive cultural conditioning that most of us have endured in support of the fantastically arrogant patriarchal belief that 'real' life and awareness begin only at the moment of the first breath, today many are beginning to awaken to an empathetic understanding of at least some of the amazing implications of the process of conception and gestation, through which individuated human consciousness is somehow matched to and implanted within the formation of a new human body.

Gradually, perhaps, but inexorably, we are beginning to realize that consciousness itself cannot be merely a randomly occurring artifact or coincidence of purely physical existence, or a mere byproduct of the occurrence of the first independent breath. Finally we are coming to notice en masse that: the overall consciousness of each human individual necessarily derives from and continues to develop through the whole of her/his very existence, simultaneously reflecting and expressing the workings of a vast and obviously well-ordered, cosmic complex of self-integrating and self-synergizing phenomena of bio-electric, bio-chemical and psychophysical energies – a true microcosmic model of the universe-at-large.* [* The wholistic perspective is based upon the empirically demonstrable premise that, throughout the living universe, everything is both an expression and a reflection of everything else. Regardless of one's religious or spiritual position, to whatever extent this is true, it gives sense to the belief that human beings reflect a Divine image.']

And so we might also recognize, by extension, that the affective dimensions of consciousness must also exist in wholistically integrated relationship to the whole-being body-mind of each individual person and, ultimately, to the totality of sentience and human participation in 'the all' of consciousness itself, wherever and however it may manifest.

Within the fetal body-mind, and in common with its every other component element, process and dimension, the development of emotional potential must occur gradually, in direct attunement with the progressive development of the various psychophysical matrices, mechanisms and channels which are required for the support of (and which are, in turn, greatly governed by) the emotional consciousness and experience of the human being which is 'in process' with-in the womb. For as is true for every other phenomenon of nature, the conception-gestation-development of each and every human being proceeds along an inherently pre-ordered and yet individually attuned (i.e., self-responsive) path of development or 'becoming,' and so evolves with-in and through its own perfectly pre-programmed rhythm of change and unfoldment.* [* The word-construct, ‘development,' generally implies a chronological progression and is thus associated with linear movement. ‘Becoming,' is chosen here and preferred as a non-linear, process-oriented (and/or experientially more accurate) construct, as the development of the human being and its experience in utero is a multi-dimensional process that only relates strictly to temporal linearity in that certain physiological framework and functions develop along relatively well known (and so predictable) lines of progress, directly related to the function of time as it interacts with metabolism.]

From such a spiritually respect-full, hope-full and faith-full perspective, and looking far beyond the (perhaps unavoidably) self-limiting overview of our modern sciences, we can immediately realize that the entire process of conception and prenatal development involves the literal embodiment (i.e., the manifestation in dynamic physical form) of a virtual infinitude of potentials, attributes and dimensions of consciousness – factors which are continually interacting and synergizing to produce what we so humbly (and so very partially) perceive as a ' child.' And within this process and through the new life which it brings in to incarnate being there are some stages of development, some dimensions of affective experience and potential, which we can partially isolate and compare, and thus comprehend in a general sense as a linear sequence of development, which describes an essentially non-linear, recursive, developmental process.

 

LEVEL I: THE PRE-EXPERIENTIAL AND PRE-CORPORAL PHASE

We have already noted that at the very beginning of physical existence, the fertilized ovum might be said to constitute a pre-experiential life-form - i.e., one which is psychophysically incapable of embodying a direct awareness of its own experience – if only by virtue of the fact that it does not (yet) possess the bio-psychic apparatus which will be required for the reception and expression of emotional experience. Here it is most important to remember that this presumption does not preclude the possibility that there may well exist some sort of pre-corporeal entity (a spiritual essence of the child-to-be) which may well be both independently aware of and emotionally conjoined with the primary formations of the tiny sex cells and their non-self-conscious 'experience' of the procreative events of desire-conception-implantation-etc. which begin the adventure of every new incarnation.

Thus we might label the first level of affective manifestation as the Pre-experiential Phase of Emotional Development – while always acknowledging that this pre-experiential mass of totipotent protoplasm may or may not be somehow accompanied by a pre-incarnate or 'pre-corporal' entity of independent awareness and fully functioning affective capacity. And that we may not (yet) feel that we have any empirical evidence for the actual existence of such 'companions to the unborn,' or any real understanding of the likely nature of this pre-incarnate life-form and/or the quality of its possible experience from a scientific point of view, need not lead us into the error of wholesale denial of these possibilities per our own short-sighted perspective or our traditional spiritual ignorance. For it is a simple fact that manyparents-to-be experience a ‘presence' hovering around them, before a child is conceived. Some, in fact, believe that they are guided to those with whom they will share parenting by these little sprites – these ‘little messengers' of children to come. For the purposes of understanding the possibility of the existence of a pre-corporal stage in the implantation of consciousness into a womb-child, it matters not at all whether these maternal perceptions are ‘real' or imaginal: that they are real to the parents who experience them automatically gives them rights of consideration and inclusion here.

Even without the formal introduction to this life-form which our science will, no doubt, in time provide-receive, we can still leave space within our inner visions and within our models of the evolution of prenatal consciousness for the existence of such intimate strangers, if only because mothers (and some fathers) from time immemorial have lived and acted on these very common (if scientifically inexplicable) 'feelings' of sharing deep communication with their not-yet-conceived and/or unborn children. Any informal poll of parents' experience will yield direct, experiential data as to the ‘realness' of this experience. And, after all, and in all ways, that which is real in experience is experientially ‘real' to those who have the experience.* [* Note that this piece does not – and shall not – include the possibility of past-life and future-life influences on conception and prenatal development, even though such involvements have a profound place in the history and experience of human consciousness. It will be enough here to break the prevailing, patriarchal-mechanistic medical myth that ‘awareness begins with the first breath.' In some other work we may introduce science to experiential infinity... but not in this present chapter.]

 

LEVEL I: MATERNAL/PARENTAL EMOTIONALITY DURING THE FIRST TRIMESTER OF PREGNANCY

Although the Primary Phase (Level I) of prenatal emotional development is characterized by the very non-experience of the physical embryonic body (or tissue), it is often a time of very intense maternal emotional activity-reactivity. Traditionally, our materialistic medical perspective has related this affective intensity to 'hormonal changes' in the newly pregnant mother-body. And, of course, within its very limited realm of mechanistic, physical-plane causality, this notion is basically valid. However, hormones are, in essence and function, merely the carriers of psychophysiological 'operating system commands' and their presence in the bloodstream merely the expression-reflection of imminent psychophysical change, serving the process of whole-being integration via the humoral (originally, ‘blood-borne') 'networking' functions.

Here we might note that the simplistic, materialistic design of virtually all medical research into the nature and function of specific hormonal agents has been based upon the supposedly controlled manipulation of blood hormone levels in experimental subjects either through the controlled introduction of non-naturally occurring hormones and/or hormone levels or the experimental elimination of normally occurring hormonal secretions, and subsequent observation of any organismic (psychophysiological) changes in these subjects. In structuring our research in this manner, we naturally tend to overlook the subtle functional difference between a genuine causal agent and the mere messenger of that agency – and miss perceiving the entire being as both the ‘cause' and the ‘effect' of every psychophysical system. That changes in hormone levels in the blood do in fact coincide with other psychophysiological changes only really demonstrates an existential correlation, a state of co-synchronicity, rather than any true causality per se. What, for example, triggers the secretion of the 'causal' hormone...? And what has triggered the trigger, etc., ad infinitum? Within the perspective of medical science there is no answer to these simple questions, except to re-act to the frustration that their careless proposition can elicit, and the structuring of still further research into yet another causal agent one step beneath the last in a causal chain that will extend forever. Within the wholistic perspective, however, there is always one answer – and the answer is, always: 'everything!'

Regardless of our particular operating perspectives, it is generally true that women in the first stages of pregnancy often experience great surges of emotionality, waves of feelings which seem disproportional in their intensity to the experiential situations in which they occur – or, more exactly, with which they coincide in time. And since and/or if the tiny embryo inside is psychophysically incapable of generating waves of affective energies which might be upsetting or provocative to the mother, and if we at least momentarily suspend our belief in the medical myth of the hormone as an independent 'causal' agent, then we must search elsewhere for the 'causes' or motivating forces which underlie the emotional 'storms' of the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.

Of course the first trimester of pregnancy involves the mother (especially) in a wide range of existential considerations: there can be an enormous amount of personal exploration and self-integration to be completed before the new mother feels as ready as she can to be someone else's mother. It is an awesome role and one need not be ‘suffering' from hormonal disruptions to take it very seriously. Here, however, we will return our focus to the possible interaction between the mother-to-be and a possible pre-corporal entity.

If we simply allow ourselves to include in our overview the possibility of the existence of such an 'etheric presence' of a pre-corporal entity – the 'spirit' of the child-to-be which mothers (especially) often report 'hovering' somewhere at the edge of their awareness during love-making, conception and pregnancy – then we can begin to appreciate this early stage of pregnancy as a time of ritual preparation: a time during which the as yet pre-incarnate or 'etheric energy' which will provide the inspiration (or, ‘inspiritation') or 'soul' of the their child may be very actively involved in preparing the parents for the specific emotional needs of the child-to-come.

In this light, it is most instructive indeed to carefully listen to the accounts of parents who believe that they have actually experienced such contact with their pre-conceptual or embryonic children, and to compare the content of these highly charged emotional encounters with the parents' later observations as to the actual character/personalities of these same children – perhaps a year or two after birth. Not requiring ‘scientific validation' of their experience, many parents report that their children's eventual personalities and character bear a direct, experiential connection with the parents' presage of the child which is to come to them.

Each new child that is conceived is different. Each newly incarnating being comes to us replete with a highly individualized set of proclivities, needs and purposes. And it is the fundamental task of compassionate parenting to work with our children to help them to develop the skills and the awareness which will enable them to dis-cover themselves, their own unique essence, and how to succeed in relating this inner character to the world-at-large. Knowing the great individual differences which even various members of the same family can embody should suggest to us that it is a gross vanity indeed to imagine that we, the parents-to-be, could not benefit from this kind of direct preparation – or, at the very least some highly rarified emotional 'fine tuning' of our body-mind mechanisms to be able to fulfill the functions of parenthood to the best of our ultimate abilities.

Whenever we allow ourselves to open in genuine humility to this very real human need, and if we but allow our selves to feel what is actually happening during this time of often continual emotional upheavals – these 'storms and stresses' which occur especially during the first nine (or twelve) weeks of pregnancy – we can often find a new kind of self-sufficiency and peace, and sometimes a very special spiritual channel of connection with our unborn children. Because somehow and for some reason they are coming to be with us, and somehow we must open (or be opened) to receive them on a whole-being level of acceptance – and with all the understanding that we can muster. And this definitely includes being able (i.e. equipped and prepared) to welcome them in to our bodies and our lives on every level and through every dimension of their and our needs, egoic 'personalities,' experience (etc.).

The process of prenatal emotional programming or preparation which is so essential to the success of our children's incarnations necessarily requires adjustments to our own personality-selves, minute 'adjustments' to (and programming of) the intrauterine ecology and most especially, perhaps, a definite 'molding' of our own emotionality to provide a satisfactory emotional environment for the new child(ren) and to create a viable emotional interface between ourselves and our children. And in the purely experiential terms of the wholistic phenomenological perspective, there is simply no better explanation for the intensification of maternal/parental emotionality during the early weeks of pregnancy, than to associate it with some fundamental and/or 'higher level' preparation for one of life's greatest introductions and ongoing relationships.

From this inclusive and accepting perspective, it is sometimes only necessary for the new parents just to be able to conceive of (to imagine) the possibility of this kind of pre-incarnate interaction between themselves and their children, for the expectant mother/father to discover a radically new depth of surrender and infinitely deeper relationship with their children-to-be. When we learn to 'ask' the prenatal or pre-incarnate child what it needs, what it has come to share with us, then we are often amazed by the 'answers' which seem to arise from nowhere – and from everywhere – answers which may suddenly seem to have 'been there' all through time, merely awaiting our awakening and their recognition.

 

LEVEL II: THE VEGETATIVE-RECEPTIVE PHASE: CO-SYNCHRONOUS MOTHER-CHILD MUTUALITY

As time passes and as the material body of the embryo continues to develop at its exponential rate of change, there comes a time when the constant affective flows of the mother-body's feeling experience begin to interpenetrate the neuro-electric matrix of the fetal child via its newly-connected circuitry. Henceforth, the tiny body-mind of the fetal child will be continually charged-discharged-nourished and generally illuminated by an omnipresent stream of (maternally generated) affective currents and energies. And while this parallel streaming of emotion constitutes a wholly new dimension of fetal emotional capacity and experience than that which occurred in the preceding phase (Level I - The Pre-experiential Phase) the womb-child enters this new dimension of affective potential in complete innocence, wholly unaware (at least from an internal vantage point) of the dynamic flux of nascent feeling which is now interpenetrating its very tissues and body-mind centers. And, since its present state of being does not yet include any internally resident awareness of this newly-manifest capacity for the passive conductance of emotional energies, the womb-child is mentally and emotionally, still wholly non-self-differentiated from the mother.

In order for the special 'magic' of this new affective receptivity/conductivity of maternal emotionality to perform its evocative 'miracle-of-invitation' within the body-mind of the new child, all that is required of the gestating being is that it have achieved an adequate level of psychophysical development to permit the influx and transpersonal conductance of affective (and affectively mediated) energies from the mother-host, with no need for even the slightest reaction-response on any physical-material or experiential level. And again, if the still-separate spirit or 'soul' of the womb-child can be somehow 'aware of' and perhaps even aware through the tiny body-center of the new life within the womb, then some differentiation of emotional experience may well be already occurring, although not deriving from or acting within any egoic (self-) center within the body-mind of the fetal child.

This Second Phase of prenatal emotional development might thus be called the Vegetative Phase. It is during this phase that the mother's constant emotional flux serves as an ongoing caress of encouragement, as a gentle invitation and provocation for the womb-child's continued unfoldment into sentience. Inasmuch as the very nature of the fetal child's relationship to its mother's feelings during this phase of development is one of pure receptivity (pure yin openness), we can associate this special time of gently passive receptivity with the corresponding physical development of the 'vegetative' or autonomic nervous system (and especially the parasympathetic processes of this neuro-potential). Also, the yin-receptive organs which are involved in affective functions might be seen to undergo substantial change and growth during this phase of prenatal emotional development.

This is a time of genuine emotional parallelism between mother and child; a time of truly co-synchronous mutuality in which the tiny fetal entity is continually invited and provoked into feeling – through its inextricable connexus with its mother's emotional experience and the incessant flow-through of the totality of her affective streams and surges, whatever they may be. Slowly, carefully, incrementally – and yet, in experiential terms, almost instantly – these new streams of dynamic charge and their equally novel bio-energetic rhythms of flux begin to innervate and to bring into active living awareness the previously non-feeling embryo of the child-to-be.

During this stage in its development, the womb-child 'rides along' on the incredible journeys of its mother's whole-being emotionality. And it is with in the total emotional mutuality of this (Level 2) Vegetative-Receptive phase of emotional development that the child is patterned with and by the totality of its mother's individuality, and so comes to 'know' her far more intimately than will any other human individual throughout the whole of her lifetime's experience. In some ways, this penultimate intimacy is 'safe' for both individuals: the mother usually does not fully comprehend with conscious egoic mind-self that her belly-babe is so astutely attuned to her feelings, while the child is simultaneously journeying from non-sentience to sentience and (still unconsciously) using the mother's feeling-full experience as its very pathway in-to awareness. It is certainly a most magical and primally conditioning-imprinting time of pregnancy for the mother and also for every newly incarnating human being's womb-time experience.

As soon as the psychophysical matrix of the prenatal child has developed adequately to permit its mother's affective energies to flow in totally co-synchronous mutuality through its body-being, then these very flows and energies begin to evoke and stimulate the development of yet another nascent ability: the capacity to respond to these in-flowing emotional waves directly and wholistically. Over time this latent potential for re-active expression is gradually awakened and gently begins to function as yet another distinguishable level (Phase III) of emotional development and as a primal component of the life and consciousness of the person-sprout within.

 

LEVEL II: MATERNAL/PARENTAL EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE

Gradually, softly, carefully... and inevitably, however, the consciousness of the pre-incarnate entity or 'spirit being' is gently in-fused in, to and with the expanding body-mind matrix of the new being. During the first days or weeks of its new residence within – and whenever this might occur in the course of the pregnancy – the mother may experience the womb-child as sometimes very present in her awareness, and sometimes almost wholly 'absent,' as though the little child-spirit was free to 'come and go' as it pleased. This is a feature of maternal experience which may be almost universal in its incidence – at least among women who are open to relating directly to the growing consciousness of their unborn children from a very early age. And inasmuch as it is true that the mother's experience is an absolutely valid indicator of phenomenological reality (at least), these common maternal experiences must be taken as significant evidence for the existence of prenatal consciousness and also as a prime resource of otherwise unknowable information/insight into the very nature (and experiential quality) of the consciousness that resides within the very mother center of a pregnant woman, and which is literally called into conscious being through the sheer dynamic power of her body-feeling experience as it interacts with her barely formed womb-child.* [* When a mother has a high sensitivity for these earliest ‘sparks' of conscious presence within her belly, it can be a powerfully moving experience for fathers and others to allow the mother to help them interface with the unborn child. “Touch my belly now - she's in now” Or, “He was here awhile ago but I can't feel him in there just now. I'll let you know.” We can laugh even thinking of how a conventional medical practitioner might regard such ‘fantasy.' But that does not limit the meaning of experience that often occurs even where consciousness is not ‘supposed to' be present – or possible!]

During the time of wholly co-synchronous emotional mutuality(Level II), there is no easily obtainable empirical evidence of the existence of autonomous being (consciousness) within the womb. To be sure, there may well be 'flashes' of insight and preparatory 'awakenings' within the experience of the mother as she surrenders into the great oceanic flows of pregnancy; subtle intuitional 'feelings' which begin to inform her as to the identity and perhaps even some of the special the needs/purposes of her child's incarnation. And in part, these 'rushes' of realization and prenatal preparatory programming derive from the very affective parallelism which characterizes this phase of prenatal emotional development. For now the mother will often begin to experience a great intensification of her own emotional strength as (and because) her own affective energy flows are synergizing with those of her child.

The principal of synergy is one which is essential in and to human life and interaction on virtually every level and dimension of consciousness and being. It has been said that the word itself stands alone in the English language in its wholistic implications. The word 'synergy' refers to a phenomenon whereby a form, a substance or a manifestation of consciousness is ‘greater than the sum of its constituent parts.'

In terms relevant to the present subject of prenatal emotionality, this can be taken to mean that whenever there is a mother with child, there will also exist a third entity: the 'us'-entity which will be different than and 'greater than' either individual in the mother-child dyad. And the intensification of emotionality which is a common component of this phase of prenatal emotional development is perhaps just one of many possible experiential enhancements which emanate from this new synergistic experience of 'us.'

During the Pre-corporal Phase (Level I), the mother and father's emotional life surrounded and nourished the embryonic child, but was not directly involved in any direct phenomenal relationship with the relatively unformed body-mind of the new child (again, if only because the child was not yet sufficiently developed neurologically to manifest a 'presence' within its own body-mind vessel). But now there is an active dynamic relationship between mother and child – dynamic in the sense that it includes a new dimension of affective potency: the capacity of the child-body to channel or conduct in passive openness, all of the affective potentials (energies) which comprise the mother's emotional experience.

Even though her child cannot yet react to these through-flowing energies, there is still a significant qualitative existential difference between the prenatal consciousness of Level I and that of Level II, and it is precisely this different experience of her womb-child which characterizes and differentiates the two phases of development phenomenologically, in terms of their experiential meaning and meaningfulness. For whether or not the fetal being inside the womb can yet experience it (and, basically, it cannot), the mother can experience the synergistic intensification of her own emotionality which is the direct result of the phenomenon of 'affective resonance' that occurs when her mature emotionality 'plays through' the receptive 'instrument' of her new child's growing sensitivities, to create a third presence – the 'beat tone' of the 'us'-experience – an experience of deeply intimate interpersonal synergy that is felt at a most precious and primal level of communion.

The mother feels her own feelings, as always, but now there is something different, something more meaningful in her personal experience. Many women refer to this experience simply as that of 'feeling the child' in a new and more intense way than previously. Many also begin to feel genuinely comfortable with their pregnancy now that they can 'feel something real' and changed/changing within themselves and within their own emotional experience. And what they are feeling is often the amplification of their own affective experience on all levels and dimensions as it resonates with/in their womb-children, and reverberates throughout their whole-being awareness. Now, at last, they can feel the changes happening within, and their pregnancy (and the child-to-come) of course may now be felt as eminently more 'real!' They begin to 'eat for two,' and to 'sleep for two' -- and even to 'breathe for two' with a new intentionality that is based in their ‘us' experience. And in this expansion of experience, the persona of 'the mother' bursts into full bloom. The sexuality of the archetype of ‘The Mother' is rising to its climax and its intrinsic perfection. Wherever The Mother reclines for a moment's rest, her energy radiates outward and touches all who can feel the coming of new Life.* [* It is not unfair to judge any culture based upon its ability to affirm and celebrate this apical flowering of female sexuality and power. Alas, the cultures of the so-called ‘developed world' are still lagging in their understanding of female sexuality and the primacy of Woman – and so perpetrate the image that a pregnant woman actually loses her sex appeal! Re-education of men and women that are maintaining this anti-life, woman-fearing image is always possible, one might suppose. And given that, there seems little excuse for whatever patriarchal lag is responsible for the perpetuation of this cultural sin of habituated ignorance and spiritual omission.]

This is a natural process of vivification or 'bringing-to-life' of the reality of a pregnancy. Phenomenologically it can be seen as a naturally synchronized manifestation of – and response to – the new life within, which serves as a dynamic pathway for the mutual familiarization of mother and child, even before the child's individuality (personal needs and desires) has begun to manifest directly within/through its new body-being in any overt way. And it is during this time that the mother-to-be can indulge herself in long moments of reverie and intuitionally rich 'daydreaming' about her baby, her motherhood and her feelings – timeless and ageless dreams from within the great depths of Mother-wisdom, uprising from realms which few non-women can ever even visit.

From within these depths and 'mysteries,' pregnant mothers have communed with their unborn children through all time and dimensions of existence. Within these deep reveries, their children find ways of 'announcing' themselves, of actively preparing their parents for acceptance of the tasks and the gifts of parenthood that lie ahead. And through their own innate sense of self-connectedness to this ancient wealth of intuitive wisdom and 'knowing,' most mothers find the time and the way to surrender in to this oceanic (yin) state and to drink from this infinite resource of elemental earth- and water-wisdom.

For many women, the first trimester of pregnancy (which corresponds here roughly to Level I development) is a time of confusion and stress, uncertainty and uncenteredness. It is often a welcome relief for these mothers to discover at last that they will be able to do what is needed to provide for the child-being within; that they can feel the strength of their own inner wisdom and find that conjoined in a meaningful way with the reverberating-resonating 'feeling' of their new heart-mate. And so it is not at all surprising that it is this very newfound confidence and surety which enables mothers to open to the full power of their own emotionality may then flow back into their bellies to further nourish and instruct and guide their unborn babes. Too often this experience is a ‘private celebration' between mother and child. If we can illuminate some of its deeper possibilities, it may become something that the entire family can share and celebrate. What is most important to this revelation is to be aware that it is precisely the strength and the dynamic change of the mother's emotional feelings which work incessantly to invite, evoke and provoke the eventual development of truly autonomous emotionality in their new children.

 

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life process

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connexus