How to Raise a Dolphin Conscious Child

by Paradise Newland

It is 4 am the day before this article is due. I am in bed fuming and suddenly I burst into tears. The tears are a needed reconciliation before I can write this piece. I cry as I remember my son was a hospital caesarian-section baby. The staff separated us immediately: he alone in intensive care nursery, me alone in surgical recovery. The tears open the grief about my own hospital birth and the pain accompanying my early years. By the time he was born I had seen deeply how I could add more love. How would my life have looked or felt had I given myself all that I'm giving my son Ariel? This is a sharing of that journey.

When I heard about waterbirthing and dolphins I was excited and explored what this could mean. I began a documentary on my ideal birth scenario: to have my child delivered in water with dolphins to greet his arrival. It made sense to be relaxed in warm water, play with dolphins and let my son come into the world with friends to greet his birth. I knew this was still a rare event.

When I became pregnant I wondered where I could give birth this way. While meditating I received this knowing: "A dolphin waterbaby is a state of consciousness." In that moment I knew he would be delivered by caesarian section. If "I" wanted "a dolphin conscious child", then "I" had to be "a dolphin conscious" mother. These last few years have shown me what that means.

Dolphins show me delight and joy, harmony, being present in the moment. My two day swim with the dolphins Joe and Rosie, partners in John and Toni Lilly's Human/Dolphin Foundation, changed my life. I felt complete love and acceptance for the first time ever. I began going into my hurting self, to where the love was conditional or blocked. My former life as tv producer, talk show host, and married woman had been largely defined by others, clocks, and external standards. I released it to become free, natural and real. I wanted to be truly alive, my own person.

Dolphins symbolize freedom, complete love and acceptance. As I explore this for myself I can give it to my son. He has chosen much of how we have lived since his birth. He is allowed to explore his life openly. He freely chooses his sleeping schedule, play time, diet, where and when we go out. We are together, having fun, making the most of life's experiences. We gave up our own home and have come to know many people more closely than we might had we nested in our own place. We have had vast experiences adapting to how our hosts lived, sharing their living spaces and friends, experiencing their passions, views of life, and adding them to our growing family.

'Til recently, my capacity for intimacy was limited. I only let people get so close. How could I have been otherwise? From birth on, I slept alone, was fed by rubber nipples and bottles, and was bundled in clothes. Skin-to-skin touch was limited. It has taken years to shed my layers of protection.

My son has slept by my side since his birth and, from his fourth month, slept naked with me. We spend most of our time together like this too. He still suckles as much as he wants to. Mom and the milk of human kindness alway await him. We have a deep intimacy and closeness. Suckling helps him integrate whatever happens in the moment. He comes to me when he wants to be close, is tired, upset, or on returns from adventures. Early mornings, still sleeping, he reaches for me, replenishes himself and goes off on another journey. Closeness and intimacy are easy for him as he gets older. It's all he's known. In giving all this to him, I give it to myself.

I have learned love, acceptance, and being in the moment. Many expectations about our lives were dropped and the present accepted lovingly as though it were what I wanted. His hospital birth is a prime example. He "is" the dolphin child I wanted. What difference how he was born? He is here, alive and well. He is my heart's delight. It's all I wanted anyway. Dolphins have taught me to accept life and discern what is truly important. I have opened to love from within and from the many people we have met. I feel connected in this world and so does my son. I know the love I give him measures how much love the world will give him and, in return, how much he will give the world. The essence of raising a dolphin conscious child is an exploration into the depths of life, of love; allowing the great joy of parenting to be experienced.

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Updated June 6, 2000