This section is from the book "Married Love: A New Contribution to the Solution of Sex Difficulties", by Marie Carmichael Stopes. Also available from Amazon: Married Love: A New Contribution to the Solution of Sex Difficulties.
With an ardent man, wholly devoted to his wife and long deprived of her, the time will come when it will be sufficient for him to be near her and caress her for relief to take place without any physical connection.
After the birth of the first child the health of the mother and of the baby both demand that there should be no hurried beginning of a second. At least a year should pass before the second little life is allowed to begin its unfolding, so that a minimum of about two years should elapse before the second child is born.
The importance of this, both for the mother and for the child, is generally adequately recognised by medical specialists, and some distinguished gynecologists advocate as much as three or five years between the births of successive children. While in the whole human relation there is no slavery or torture so horrible as coerced, unwilling motherhood, there is no joy and pride greater than that of a woman who is bearing the developing child of a man she adores. It is a serious reflection on our poisoned " civilisation " that a pregnant woman should feel shame to appear in the streets. Never will the race reach true health till it is cured of its prurient sickness, and the prospective mother can carry her sacred burden as a priestess in a triumphal procession. (See Addition 3, p. 117.)
Of the innumerable problems which touch upon the qualities transmitted to the children by their parents, the study of which may be covered by the general term Eugenics, I shall here say nothing: nor shall I deal with the problems of birth and child-rearing. Many writers have considered these subjects, and my purpose in this book is to present aspects of sex-life which have been more or less neglected by others.
While throughout I have omitted the consideration of abnormalities, there is one condition which verges on the abnormal but yet touches the lives of some married people who are individually both normal and healthy, about which a few words need to be said.
It not infrequently happens that two healthy, loving people, for no apparent reason, seem unable to have a child. (See Addition 4, p. 119.)
The old-fashioned view was that the fault lay with the woman, and the reproach of being a barren woman is one which brought untold anguish to many hearts. It is now beginning to be recognised, however, that in a childless union the " fault," if fault it be, is as ; often the man's as the woman's, particularly where the husband is a brain worker in a city.
Though it is natural that there should not be the same joy for the pair in a child which had not arisen from their own supreme fusion, nevertheless, the man who is generous and broadminded might find much joy in a child of his wife's were the obtaining of this child not coupled with the yielding of her body to the embrace of another man, which is so generally and so naturally repugnant to a husband. The future possibilities of science here come in. Much interesting research has already been done on the growth of the young of various creatures without the ordinary fertilisation of the mother egg-cell. Then there are the experiments by the famous Dr. Hunter at the end of the eighteenth century, and more recent work. See, for instance, Heape, in the " Proceedings of the Royal Society, 1897," and Marshall's text-book of " The Physiology of Reproduction, 1910."
While in such an event as these discoveries adumbrate, the husband would have no bodily part in the heritage of the child, yet in the creation of its spirit he could play a profound part, the potentialities of which appear to be almost unrecognised by humanity.
The idea that the soul and character of the child can be in any degree influenced by the mental status of the mother during the months of its development as an embryo within her body, is apt to be greeted with pure scepticism--for it is difficult of proof, and repugnant to the male intellect, now accustomed to explain life in terms of chemistry.
Yet all the wisest mothers whom I know vary only in the degree of their belief in this power of the mother. All are agreed in believing that the spiritual and mental condition and environment of the mother does profoundly affect the character and the mental and spiritual powers of the child.
An interesting fact which strengthens the woman's point of view, is quoted (though not in this connection) by Marshall,* who says: " It has been found that immunity from disease may be acquired by young animals being suckled by a female which had previously become immune, the antibody to the disease being absorbed in the ingested milk." This particular fact is explainable in terms of chemistry; but it seems to me more than rash for anyone in these days of hormones from ductless glands, to deny the possibility of mental states in the mother generating " chemical messengers," which may impress permanent characters in the physiological reactions of the developing child. Ellis says (Vol. 6, " Sex and Society," 1913) : " The mother is the child's supreme parent, and during the period from conception to birth the hygiene of the future man can only be affected by influences which work through her."
* See p. 1566 of the text-book on " The Physiology of Reproduction," Pp. xvii., 706, 1910.
And Alfred Russel Wallace, the great naturalist, thought the transmission of mental influence neither impossible nor even very improbable.* I am convinced that it takes place all the time, moulding and influencing the hereditary factors.
* See his letter to the scientific journal " Nature " in the year 1893, August 24, pp. 389 and 390.
Hence I suggest that the husband who is deprived of normal fatherhood may yet make the child of his wife's body partly his own, if his thoughts are with her intensely, support;ingly, and joyously throughout the whole time or the unborn baby's growth. If he reads to her, plays beautiful music or takes her to hear it, and gives her the very best of his thoughts and aspirations, mystical though the conclusion may seem, he does attain an actual measure of fatherhood.