The entrance of a new human into this earth is not as light-switchy as many might think, in my opinion. There is a soul, there is a body, there is a developing mind and a range of emotions. There is the imprinting of experiences within the DNA that is passed down and combined to form the newly created child, as well as the experiences they encounter while growing within and then exiting the womb. There are the moments after birth, the physiological and spiritual transition from a world of water to a world of air. All of it is far beyond a simple on-off button.
Anecdotal evidence tells us that many women have experienced a range of spiritual connections or communications with their unborn children — sometimes before pregnancy, sometimes not until well into pregnancy, and sometimes that connection has felt like a coming and going, like the child’s soul is taking trips somewhere outside of the womb, and sometimes it’s almost immediately at the point of conception.
My own experiences with the souls of my children (what some people call “spirit babies”) began with the pregnancy of my third child. I would get strong feelings, strong impulses or what felt like intuitive thoughts that seemed like they were coming from someone else, and almost always had physical ramifications if I didn’t take heed to the suggestions (like weird uterine pains, etc.). It was really the first time I experienced a strong connection or line of communication with my baby in utero, it simply wasn’t the same with my first two (though, in hindsight, I can see a progression toward this ability to connect with my babies and my pregnant body).
Up to this point, I believe the following: Hashem (“the Name,” the Divine Creator) creates a soul for a specific role in the world — I’m not even sure if that soul is meant for a specific family, though I believe it’s all realized with intention, providing everything that soul would need to fulfill their role. A body for that soul is conceived, the soul becomes bound to that body, firmly or loosely tied. The event of birth manifests a spiritual and physical journey for both mother and child, where the spirit of each goes somewhere outside of this plane while the body is performing its own otherworldly feat. In the continuation of life after birth, the mother’s soul returns to her body, and after a moment, the baby’s soul returns to his or her body. The body/soul tether becomes tightly wound from then on.
Babies in the womb are wise. They live in a perfect balance of physicality and spiritual existence — enjoying an unadulterated path of communication with our Divine Creator. Jewish tradition holds that a child’s soul is taught the entire Torah while in the womb or before the soul enters the womb, but upon birth, the wisdom is forgotten, with the life goal of remembering and living these teachings once again.
Our souls are created for a Divine purpose. In the book of the young prophet Yerm’yahu, Hashem calls out to him and says, “Before I created you in the womb, I selected you; before you were born, I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet concerning the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5) I see this concept reflected again and again when people feel “called” or “pulled” to a certain collection of roles, and, when they accept and act according to those roles, they feel “fulfilled” or as though they are “letting their light shine”.
Who decides on all of this? In my opinion, the moment we, as parents, perform the acts that result in the conception of a child (i.e. unprotected sex to completion during our fertile window), we have sent out an invitation to a new soul to enter this world. Accidental invitations are still invitations. Forced invitations are still invitations. Why no distinction? Because who guarantees life in any of these situations anyway?
Who can say that a much loved, much desired baby, who grows to full term and has an amazing birth, will stay with us here on this earth? Who can say that an unloved, undesired saline-burned baby will leave this earth after he or she has been birthed at 28 weeks gestation? Only God knows why some babies stay and some babies go, and I think sometimes this knowledge is shared and other times it is not shared with the rest of us.
All of life is a contract, an exchange. When we continue to breathe, we agree to face what comes. Sometimes things come to us that we don’t want, we don’t like, but if there are no accidents — and I don’t believe there are accidents — then we are being given the opportunity to move through those experiences and grow from them, to become what we are meant to be. I believe this is the case for every life, for every soul. Personally, I don’t want to get in the way of that for someone else, for someone else’s soul. In fact, I don’t think we have the right to get in the way of that. Even as a mother, it is not my role to choose the life of my children, it is simply (or not so simply) to grow them, to provide safety for them, and to guide them to the best of my ability.
Our souls are unique. Our roles are unique. Each life is unique. There is so much that we can know, but so much that we don’t (and never will) know. For now, this is my perspective. You can choose to take it or leave it.