In August 1984, at eight months pregnant, I journeyed with my former husband to the Soviet Union during the Cold War to give birth to our baby as a gesture for world peace. Alexander was born on September 6, 1984 in our room at the Hotel Pribaltiskaya in Leningrad, USSR (now St. Petersburg).
In one of the many synchronistic events that occurred before and during this journey, Soviet journalist Valery Kislov happened to be visiting the hotel shortly after Alex’ birth and published our story in Komsomolskaya Pravda. The news spread like wildfire. Dozens of letters and packages began to arrive. The manager of the hotel moved us into a bigger suite and refused to accept payment.
Alexander’s name was entered into a Leningrad official birth record in an elaborate birth registration ceremony at the ornate Dvorets Malyutka (Palace of Infants) with piped-in Tchaikovsky music. Registrar Nina Stepanova presented us with an honorary Leningrad citizenship medal for Alexander, dubbed the ”Peace Baby” by Soviet media.
We were interviewed by Soviet and American press. Soviet citizens cried and hugged us, offered their hard-earned money, sent telegrams, and delivered diapers, baby clothes and gifts for Alexander (nicknamed Sasha). They invited us into their homes, grateful that two Americans had traveled all the way to their country to demonstrate that we did not want war. Included in their heartfelt letters were photos of their children and families. Many wrote, “We want no war! All we want is blue skies.”
Watch our CBS Morning News TV interview with Bill Kurtis, broadcast live from Moscow via satellite when Sasha was two weeks old.
Read a San Francisco Chronicle article published after we returned home.
In 2008, I began writing a memoir about this event. Due to the depth of this experience and the ensuing years’ trials and tribulations, it is still a work in progress. Its current title is Labor of Love: My Journey through the Iron Curtain to Birth the “Peace Baby.”
© 1984 – 2020 Ana Fatima Costa, photographs and content. All Rights Reserved.