Sunday, September 5, 2010

Change #2: Tell Children a Magical Story of Their Birth

Dear Birth Peeps,
As you are thinking about your first birth story (stories), I'll continue with a few more thoughts about how change begins with our children.


My mother told us several versions of her, our, birth stories. I relished the "magical" stories about the day we were born. For my younger sister, Laura, my mother would say, "You brought the first snow... You were born in the night and when the sun came up, there was a white blanket of snow on the earth." I still think of that story and image every year on the first snow, "my sister brought the first snow."

When a child hears a story that conveys that the day they were born was the worst, most painful day of their mother's life, that their birth hurt their mother, "almost killed her," or details of unwished-for interventions that she had to suffer--what do you think the child feels?

Young children are in "magical" thinking which means they think "they" cause things to happen, that something they did causes their parents to fight, cry, get divorced, or suffer in labor. They carry this guilt and grief, and from their innocent, misguided beliefs they create a constellation of stories about their world, relationships, who they are, and about birth.

No matter what happened in labor, a child wants to know about "their" birth and that their arrival was special. So, find something that was special about the day your child was born, something you thought about, something funny that happened, or something the child did that was endearing, funny, or cute.

Imagine telling a child their birth story as a child's version, a sweet, Magical Story of the day they were born.

A Magical Story is meant for the Child. It is not a medical, factual story, it's not fantasy, and it's not a "lie." It is a unique version of the story that focuses on something special about that child's birth-day: it is a story a small child can hear, and wants to hear. As the child grows up and becomes an adult, there will be plenty of time for adult stories about birth--when they have enough life experience to understand a more complex story.

Some parents tell the Magical Birth Story on the child's birth day, a kind of birth day celebration ritual. My boys love their birth-day story. Each year, it is told a little differently. Each year the child hears it differently. Maybe as they grow up, a few more details will be added. My 19 year-old son smiled when he heard his birth story this year, and he heard something he's never "heard" before. It is still his Magical birth story.




  1. I LOVE hearing my magical birth story from my mother every year. My birth was a much awaited for day and EVERYONE was there - waiting for me! I plan on telling my son his magical story every year too.

  2. Ah, a magical birth story. How I wish that was the version my mother had told me. I first asked about my birth as a young child I was going through the photos my mother kept in a box in her closet and discovered baby pictures of both my sister and brother but none of myself. I asked why there were no photos and my mother replied that I was too ugly, that I was black and blue. I was born a footling breech and my mother's first child. She was knocked out when they realised I was stepping into the world but I cleary remember her response to my query about photos. Yes, the magical version would have included just that...a hint at in some cultures a footling is said to have "the gift" or "the third eye" or some other heightened intuitive abilities...a little magic goes a long's my birthday at midnight...I'll tell myself a good tale...Happy Birthday to me and to all the Magical Children.
    Thanks Pam,
    with love, Tricia

  3. Ohhh I love this. My 4yr old son is very deep in the story telling/listening place. I am now inspired to sit with his birth story and discover his magical story.
    We are also awaiting the arrival of baby #2 any day now and I look forward to the telling and retelling of this story with my son and his new sibling.
    Loving the new blog, Pam! Such a great way to connect.

  4. I used tell my son more about how he came to be here rather than his birth itself. I told him the story about the baby fairy and how I told her I wanted a very special baby. She said it was hard to find VERY special babies so I would have to wait. SO I waited and waited and one day she came to me to tell me she had a very special baby and he was a boy and he had light brown hair and his name was F***** and she would bring him just to me because I had waited so patiently. And she did bring him one night and we loved him and cuddled him and here he was now.

    It was more for me than him! He's turned 4 now and really needs a bit of biological truth to creep into this story! He hasn't heard it since he was 2 or 3 I don't think. I used to like telling it though :)

    Love the story about the snow. My poor son brought the end of a heatwave and the end of decent summers in this country, harrumph!

  5. I was adopted, so my story is a bit different. My parents wanted another child so much, and my brother wanted a little brother or sister, as well. So they prayed for me every single night at bedtime for an entire year. One day, when Mom was at work teaching preschool, she got the call that they were going to get a little girl. ME! And she cried tears of joy. When they brought me home, my brother was the only one who could make me belly laugh every time he wanted to and he watched out for me.

    Being adopted, I never felt abandoned. I felt chosen. And my brother and I always had a special bond.

  6. Thank you for posting this! As my daughter's first birthday draws near, I am beginning to craft the story I will tell her and I am thankful for the reminder to keep it Magical!

  7. I learned to make beautiful stories of birth in my son's school (Waldorf), Now is our birthday ritual every year, and we are eager to hear our own birth story! and the best of all, I've made my own birth story, as I would like to have heard when I was a little girl....Thanks Pam.

  8. Oh, beautiful! We've always told them more factual as well...I always answer exactly what they ask. We've always spoke of the pain like working hard in the garden with birth...but I really like this. I think a little more magice is needed for when I tell them their stories on their birthdays.


  9. The night I was in labor with my son, we were driving to the hospital in the city. It was 8pm one January evening and my husband was driving myself and two daughters to the birth center. As we approached the hospital, all of us were gazing out the window, anticipating the upcoming event, excited to finally meet this little guy! Suddenly, we ALL saw a huge streak of light flash across the night sky, heading in the direction of the hospital. It was a shooting star! It was so amazing for all of us to see it, and in the city, amongst all the light pollution!! So, we like to say that it was his spirit showing us a sign of the beautiful event that was about to unfold. He was coming from the heavens to meet us there! BTW, my son's name means "Prince" in Persian.

    Here is a poem we wrote about it. I am now inspired to read this poem on his birthday every year!


    A little prince enters the world in peace upon a star.
    We saw your entrance into this world, little prince.
    A singular sight, as shooting stars so often escape the eye.
    Your radiance shone bold above the city lights.
    We were all traveling to where you were to be born,
    We by car, and you by star.
    You could not wait for us to see you
    And so you trailed a tail of cosmic dust behind you,
    Silent and brilliant as you tumbled from the heavens.
    You brought peace, even in birth.
    Gentle from the beginning,
    Your grace has shone
    Since the moment you streaked across the Southern California sky.