Birthing the American “Peace Baby” in Leningrad, USSR
Ana Fatima Costa
“It happened early in the morning on September 6. A foreigner came to stay at the Pribaltiyskaya Hotel in Leningrad, and the hotel administration knew absolutely nothing about his identity. This new resident had neither visa nor passport, and he had gone unnoticed even by the vigilant doormen. In just a few hours, however, he was the hotel’s most celebrated guest. An enormous bouquet of flowers from the hotel staff appeared on the table in his room, and the management began to debate what kind of gift they could bestow on the unexpected ‘new occupant.’ It’s only a matter of time before this foreigner has an identity document. In a few days, there will be an officially registered birth certificate stating the following:
- Name: Alexander Krumland
- Date of birth: September 6, 1984
- Place of birth: Leningrad, USSR
- Nationality: American
Best Wishes, Little One!”
Valery Kislov, Komsomolskaya Pravda
8 September 1984
The birth of our baby in a hotel 5,500 miles from our home was the culmination of a spiritual journey that my former husband Jerry and I willingly undertook by plane, jetfoil, and train from California, USA to Leningrad, USSR as a bridge of peace between the two nations at the height of the Cold War. Our inspiration came through a vision that dropped into Jerry’s mind like a lightning bolt during his usual morning meditation one day in February 1984:
A couple gave birth to a baby on the steps of the Kremlin, and dolphins jumped for joy nearby.
Most people would have dismissed this nonsensical idea. Indeed, the handful of family members we confided in thought we’d lost our minds. They worried that the USSR would keep our baby, imprison us, or never let us return home. My mother cried.
Why would we intentionally travel to the USSR, of all places in the world, to birth our baby?
Why would I, a woman in her eighth month of pregnancy, take such a risk and travel thousands of miles from the comfort of her home into “enemy” territory to birth her baby?
Personally, I experienced moments of fear, anxiety, and worry several times in the months before our departure. Turning to prayer, I was enveloped by a warm presence and sense of peace that all would be well. Had I not received that deep confirmation each time, I would not have gone.
At the soul level, I believe the confluence of Jerry’s and my background, experiences, and beliefs brought us together for the sole purpose of birthing our baby in the USSR to help avert a potential nuclear war.
We had strong personalities, bodies, and minds, had overcome respective traumatic experiences, and had well-developed, deep spiritual practices.
Jerry had witnessed the devastation war inflicts when he served in Vietnam and was worried about the possibility of a global nuclear strike. He was passionate about creating a safer world for all people, including our unborn son, and wanted to act before it was too late.
Several of Jerry’s friends were involved in the Human Potential Movement (HPM) at Esalen Institute. When we met in 1982, he was a part-time pilot renting a home near the ocean in Mendocino that once housed the Human Potential School, which he had attended before it burned to the ground. There, he learned various psychological techniques that stripped people’s beliefs about themselves and got to the core of what they felt and believed as they experienced cathartic moments of deep self-awareness and grew into more authentic selves.
Every month Jerry would drive south to Oakland, California to fly for a small airplane cargo company that collected documents and packages from banks all over the state.
My first husband worked at the same company and introduced us at a gathering of pilots. I was intrigued by Jerry’s easy, gentle manner and graceful way of moving, which I later learned was due to years of practicing T’ai Chi.
My family and I emigrated from our home on Madeira Island, Portugal, to America in October 1960 – ten days by ship to New York and three days by train to Oakland, California, where my father’s elder sisters resided. I was 7, the middle child and eldest daughter of five. It was a traumatic uprooting; we left all our family and friends behind to pursue the American dream.
In Catholic elementary and high school, I developed a deep faith and relationships with Jesus, Mother Mary, angels (one appeared to me when I was nine), and our Lady of Fatima – after whom I am named.
The reality of our violent world encroached into the peace I felt during Mass: the assassinations of President John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy. In high school, I participated in the Black Panther’s after-school reading program, but after the civil rights riots began, I no longer felt safe riding a bus alone through Oakland.
As a teenager, I discovered meditation and yoga by watching the popular TV program Lilias! Yoga and You. I also fell in love with the dramatic court scenes in the original Perry Mason show. In 1979, after passing two certification exams, I began my career as a freelance and pro tem court reporter. I had a well-developed skill of suppressing emotions to capture a verbatim record, no matter what I heard on the job.
While I enjoyed my legal work and learned a great deal, my spiritual practices filled my heart and soul: daily yoga and meditation, journaling, shamanic journeys, and smudging my home with sacred herbs to release negative energy, among others. These practices also helped deepen my intuitive abilities, a gift inherited from my mother.
A few months after my first marriage ended in 1983, Jerry and I began dating. A few weeks later, I experienced a shocking vision during a self-guided meditation:
When I opened the door to my manifestation room, a faceless nurse handed me a baby swaddled in a blue blanket. Shocked, I stepped back, slammed the door shut, opened my eyes, and rocked back and forth, moaning, “NO! Not now! Please, God, not a baby! I am not ready!”
Halfway through court reporting school, I had gotten pregnant and gave the baby up for adoption. Getting pregnant so early in my relationship with Jerry was NOT what I wanted. Yet, I couldn’t shake off the feeling in my gut that this vision would come true, as had other premonitions and dreams.
On the night of the winter solstice, December 22, 1983, our room was imbued with the loving presence of angels as Jerry and I made love. As had happened with my first-born, I saw a bright flash of light at the moment of conception. The doctor confirmed my pregnancy six weeks later.
When Jerry drove down to see me in February 1984 to share his vision, he waited for a moment to let it sink in, then asked, “How would you feel about having our baby in the Soviet Union?”
Stunned, I closed my eyes and immediately “saw” a Russian woman wearing a gray overcoat with a colorful babushka scarf covering her head and tied under her chin. Besides hearing about the escalating Cold War tensions and nuclear threats, I knew little about the USSR. Since fourth grade, I had questioned if what we were reading in textbooks were true. History seemed to be mostly about wars over land and resources. How many wars and ethnic “cleansings” have taken place throughout history in the name of God? This made me ill.
Don’t all humans, regardless of where they live, want the same things: shelter, food, health, money to pay their bills, time with loved ones, and enjoyment of life?
Maybe the simple human act of sharing the birth of our baby with the Soviet people on their land would help bridge this frightening impasse between the two nations in a small way.
I opened my eyes.
“I have no idea how to make something like this happen, but if we can bring peace to this troubled world by sharing our baby’s birth with the so-called enemy, let’s do it.”
Our lives changed rapidly. We got married, moved near Oakland Airport, and applied for passports and visas.
A journey of such magnitude required tremendous physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial preparation; dozens of conversations with myriad individuals, including our travel agent and U.S. State Department personnel; a letter-writing campaign to individuals and peace organizations for funding or donations to cover our expenses; and support from key people engaged in peacekeeping and citizen diplomacy organizations and movements.
All planning and coordination was done in the five months preceding our departure in August 1984 while Jerry and I worked full time in our demanding occupations – he as a pilot, and I as a licensed freelance court stenographer.
We did not inform either government of our plans.
Jerry learned that Aeroflot’s planes were not pressurized. Afraid I would go into labor, likely resulting in the pilot’s decision to return to London, he bought several maps, taped them together on a large piece of cardboard, and mapped our route by train to our destination in Russia.
This blog post in Russian
Cite this article as: Ana Fatima Costa, “Birthing the American “Peace Baby” in Leningrad, USSR”, in New Age in Russia, 04/01/2021, https://newageru.hypotheses.org/5371