You must be born

You must be born is a beautiful dialogue between unborn twins.

Once upon a time a pair of twins were conceived in the womb. The months went by and the one turned to the other and said: “We are changing, what do you think it means?”

“It means that we are getting close to being born,” said the other.

An unsettling chill crept over the two, and they feared, for they knew that birth meant leaving their world behind them.

The one turned to the other and said, “What do you think, might there be life after birth?”

Twins in the womb before being born.

You must be born

You must be born is written by a Dutch embryologist; it's just lovely.

“Yes I think so,” said the other. “Our existence here is so that we can grow and develop in order to prepare ourselves for life after birth, so that we will be strong enough for that life.”

“Please, how can there be life after birth?” cried the one. “What would it look like?”

“Well, I’m not sure,” said the other. “But surely it will be much brighter than it is in here. And maybe we will walk around and feed ourselves through our mouths.”

“Walk around? Such nonsense. And eating with your mouth - what a ridiculous idea. We get our nourishment through our umbilical cord, not so? Besides which, even if we could walk, we couldn’t get very far - that cord is already so short! No, I think that all that exists is what we can see and hear and feel here - there is no life beyond that.”

“Well, I can’t prove it, but I still think that there is life after birth - it will just be, well, a little different from here.”

“Have you ever talked to one who has been born?” said the other. “Has anyone ever re entered the womb after birth? With birth, our life ends. That’s it. Life in here is just dark and tormenting and has no meaning. It is just a chance event and we must make of it what we can while we are here.”

And he fell into despair and moaned: “Oh, if the purpose of conception and all our growth is that it ends in birth, then truly our life is absurd”

The other tried to cheer him up. “Although I don’t know what life after birth will look like, surely we will meet our mother then and she will take care of us.”

“Mother? You believe in the existence of parents?”

“But, there must be a mother. I mean, who else gave us nourishment and protected us and our world?”

“We get our own nourishment, and our world has always been here. And if there is a mother, where is she? Have you ever seen her? Does she ever talk to you? NO. WE invented the mother because it satisfied a need in us. It made us feel secure and happy.”

“No, I’m sure you are wrong. She is here, all around us. We live by her and in her. Without her we could not even exist!”


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“Nonsense, I have never noticed anything of ‘a mother’. So she does not exist at all.”

“Yet,” said the other, “sometimes when we are quiet, you may hear her sing for us. Or feel how she caresses our world.”

(Written by a Medical embryologist from the Academisch University of Maastricht.)

Useful links


Jean cycling over a bridge in the city of Maastricht.

Bernard Preston

Here is Mrs Bernard Preston, aka She Who Must be Obeyed, crossing the Maas River on one of our many cycling trips in Limburg. She was the one who found you must be born for me.

Maastricht is probably the most beautiful city in the Netherlands, but because it's far off the beaten track, mostly is completely missed by tourists; Dordrecht and Haarlem are favourites too. 

It's also the setting for the opening chapters of A Family Affair; enjoy reading Jan Jansen, known as The Fifth; he feared he was the last of the long dynasty of Maastricht attorneys, but no....

  1. Bernard Preston
  2. Meet Bernard Preston
  3. Lonely Road of Faith
  4. You must be born
  1. Bernard Preston
  2. Lonely Road of Faith
  3. You must be born

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