Birthing the American “Peace Baby” in Leningrad, USSR (II)

Photograph of crocheted blanket © Costa, Ana Fatima

We flew out of SFO on August 13th. During the entire journey by plane and trains from London through Belgium, Germany, Poland, and Russia, I crocheted a baby blanket in the primary colors of the seven chakras: red, orange, yellow, green, indigo, purple, and white. Women smiled, pointed at the blanket, and spoke to me in their native tongue. I smiled back, pointed at my belly, and they nodded. A universal language.

Throughout our long journey, whenever I felt my baby move, especially during sudden jerks or bounces on trains, I placed both hands on my belly and sent love and thoughts of reassurance, “Everything will be all right, little one. Mama is here.”

During the 24-hour train ride from Kiev to Leningrad, our final destination, I felt Mother Mary’s presence and imagined how she felt riding a donkey to Bethlehem, heavy with the Christ child.

We arrived on September 4th. During dinner at the Pribaltiskaya the next day, Jerry held my hand and gently asked what I wanted to do when the time came. We had attended Lamaze classes before leaving home and both read Ina May Gaskin’s book, Spiritual Midwifery. I felt physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually strong and ready. Without hesitation, I said, “I want a quiet birth in our room, just the two of us.”

Throughout that night and into the wee hours, I was acutely aware of each moment as our baby began his journey, at first slowly. When I surrendered, he shot out of the birth canal like a football. Jerry caught him and placed him tenderly on my chest. Our little one raised his head to look into my eyes before lying back down to rest.

Alexander was born without complications at 5:55 a.m., as I wanted the birth experience to be: quiet, sacred, with just the three of us.

An hour later, Jerry informed the hotel manager about the birth, and it would be several weeks before we experienced that sacred silence again.

Ana & Alexander at hospital © Unknown photographer

A paramedic invited me to spend a few days at Maternity Hospital No. 13 to ensure all was well. In the ambulance, Jerry and I named him Alexander, the most popular name for a boy in Russia.

Ana & Alexander at hospital in a toast with staff © Unknown photographer

A few hours later, my vision came true: a nurse handed me Alexander swaddled in a blanket. I burst into tears.

Little did we know that our selfless act would attract so much publicity and attention. The Soviet press interviewed us multiple times and christened Alexander the “Peace Baby.” Mr. Kislov’s article resulted in Soviet citizens sending us hundreds of post cards, telegrams, letters (some containing money), and gifts. The hotel manager moved us into a larger suite at no charge, and the staff brought us a huge bouquet of flowers, diapers, baby clothes, blankets, books, and toys for Alexander. When people saw us in the hotel, they cried and hugged us.

We were overwhelmed by Soviet citizens’ expressions of gratitude. Included in their heartfelt letters were photos of their children and families. Many wrote, “We want no war! All we want is blue skies.”

Photograph of Jerry, Ana & Alexander in front of Hotel Pribaltiskaya © Unknown photographer
photograph of some Soviet citizens’ gifts © Costa, Ana Fatima

The day after we were released, Alexander’s name was entered into the official Leningrad registry of births in an elaborate birth-registration ceremony at the ornate Dvorets Malyutka (Palace of Infants), where Soviet and American press interviewed me.

We had a layover in Moscow on our return home and were interviewed live via satellite on the American TV program CBS Morning News.

Drawing, Let Peace and Friendship Prevail© Unknown Soviet artist

Back in California, Jerry called the local press to alert them of our return. There was a flurry of more interviews and articles and a presentation at Esalen Institute. A year later, we separated and later divorced due to irreconcilable differences.

It appears Alexander’s extraordinary birth had an impact on the lives of the Soviet people and citizens of other countries around the globe. Perhaps it had some part in the Berlin Wall coming down five years later.

Carl Jung described synchronicity as an “acausal meaningful coincidence of two or more events where something other than the probability of chance is involved.”

Two visions and myriad synchronistic events occurred before and during our journey to the USSR. While some people may dismiss them as accidents or coincidences, one thing I know is our baby’s birth was bigger than the three of us. Alexander became a “citizen” of the world.

Photograph of Jerry, Ana & Alexander at Palace of Infants, ceremony © Unknown
Photograph of Jerry, Ana & Alexander at Palace of Infants, Ana’s interview © Unknown photographer
Photograph of Jerry, Ana & Alexander outside Palace of Infants © Unknown photographer

 

Details about our journey will be revealed in my upcoming memoir titled, Labor of Love: My Journey Through the Iron Curtain to Birth the “Peace Baby.”

Wishing you peace.

Ana Fatima Costa

Marin County, California

December 2020

References

  1. Kislov, Valery. “Best Wishes, Little One!” Komsomolskaya Pravda (8 September 1984) [in Russian and English].
  2. CBS Morning News interview by Bill Kurtis (20 September, 1984).

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

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