Another amusing case is that of a woman who was frightened, while working in the garden, by getting a twin cucumber caught between her toes. She fully resigned herself to having twins, but got no further thank child with twin toes. If maternal impressions can create toes, and destroy fingers, then why not create or destroy heads or scalps. Yet there are no records of headless children being born of mothers who have been shocked at seeing a man beheaded. Our early American women saw many scalping parties by Indian hair dressers, but none of their children were born scalped.
A sad case I read of some years ago was that of a pregnant woman who was frightened by a mole. When her baby was born it did not possess arms and hands. Instead, at its shoulders were little "paddles" resembling the forelimbs of the mole. Yet I have never heard of children being born with elephant trunks or giraffe necks.
In France and Belgium during the recent war, when zepplin raids were almost daily occurrences, and frightful orgies of murder were frequently witnessed by the pregnant mothers, birth marks did not occur. Paris authorities who had charge of the babies of Paris report that babies born in 1918, the most terrible year of the war, were somewhat larger, fatter and healthier than babies generally are.
It is asserted that if an expectant mother is frightened and touches some part of her body, a mark will appear on the corresponding part of her child. Many mothers fear to brush a bug or bee from their face, for fear a mark resembling the insect will appear on their child. It is a most ridiculous notion, but the peace of mind of many young mothers is much disturbed by it.
There is another wide spread notion about marking children, which is that, if a mother craves something she cannot get, this will mark her child. This notion is often used by indulgent women as an excuse for indulging their morbid appetencies. Although I have never heard the story here in the South, Mr. Wiggam tells us that "down south a negro woman with a white child often accounts for it on the ground that she craved snow." We do frequently see negro women with white babies, but we have another and simpler explanation for it. Despite southern fundamentalism, no virgin births ever occur down here, and when we see a white baby we always think of a white ancestor.
"Birth marks" are comparatively rare yet it seems to the young mother who is fearful lest she mark her baby, that she sees horrible sights every day. Deformed and crippled children and adults are all around them. It is impossible for any woman to go through nine months of pregnancy without seeing many things to impress her. If the notion is a true one our children are the helpless victims of chance and no child should ever be normal. Yet impressionable mothers, who feel that their children are doomed, because of some horrible accident they have witnessed, give birth to normal children.
There are no biological, physiological or anatomical bases for the belief In maternal impressions. Let us take a brief look at the facts.
First: Children are not produced from the body cells of the parent. They are produced by the family germ plasm represented by the sperm cells—ova and spermatozoa. These are not parts of the parents bodies, but are merely stored therein. They were handed to the parent by the grandparent who received them from the great grandparent who received them—and so on, back to Adam and Eve, or whoever it was who started this thing. The hereditary characters are not placed there by the parents. These cells only receive their room and board from the parent. They are an entirely separate line of organization, living in but forming no part of the parent's body, and are not manufactured by the body or blood-cells of the parent.
God creates the germ cells and puts the hereditary characteristics into them. He does not leave the work of creation in our own hands, for, if he did we would spoil it in a week. And that's that.
Second: There is no nervous connection between the mother and her child. From the moment of conception the child is an independent being to which it is anatomically impossible for the mother to convey any mental or nervous impressions or impulses.
It is now quite the custom among "impressionists" to attribute "marks" to "telepathy." This puts the whole problem into the realms of occultism and takes it out of biology altogether. However, evidence of telepathy is entirely lacking and there is no reason to believe, even if it were possible for two minds, by great effort and after much training, to communicate with each other by means of telepathy, that this telepathic communication is creative and could produce red hair, or mole paddles at will. Wiggam correctly observes that if telepathic influence on the developing child is possible, then the father and all the neighbors could also impress the child and that the telepathic influence should not cease at birth. A mother's fright at seeing a man lose his arm ought to cause her three year-old son's arm to wither up and cease to develop.
An unborn child is just as much outside the mother's body as is the chicken in the egg outside the hen's body. Her womb is nothing more than a cavity in her body, like the mouth, and her baby is no more in her body than is a marble held in her mouth. She has as much chance of thinking something into her baby as a hen has of thinking something into the chicks in the eggs on which she sits. Strange is it not, that "impressionists" have never attributed the singing of birds to the fact that the father bird sat on the bough above and sang all day, while the mother bird sat on the eggs? I agreed with Wiggam when he asks. "Do you know that if the good Lord ever permitted the unborn babe to be remotely touched by such contradictory influences (the telepathic influences of mother, father and neighbors), by the time the little fellow got into the world he would be nothing but a grotesque conglomeration if irrelevant absurdities?"