It’s a question no pregnant mother wants to hear from her inquisitive, innocent child. You hope and pray that they don’t notice your waistline is growing exponentially and that everyone is scrambling around making plans for the “big day”. But inevitably, a curious child is going to wonder how that baby got inside of Mommy’s tummy…and how it’s going to get back out.
I truly believe in being candid with your kids. There are so many fantasies parents thrust upon their children such as the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, but when it comes to the facts of life, I believe they should be just that, facts. HOWEVER! I do believe that it’s wise to allow children to remain naive for as long as possible; there is such thing as a kid being too young to know everything.
That said, you can’t put off your child’s questions forever. At some point, you will have to answer them and it’s never good practice to lie. Then there’s the nagging fear that your child will find out from another rather unreliable source, such as a classmate, how the birds and the bees work. Timing is everything. The key is to give your child enough information to satisfy their curiosity but not enough to make you feel uncomfortable; and you’ll want to be quick to discern what they’ve already heard and debunk the foolishness and lies they’ve stored away as truth.
So what should you say when your child asks where babies come from? When I was pregnant for the second time, my oldest child, who was just three years old, asked this very question. I couldn’t believe my own ears when I answered that “daddy planted a seed in Mommy’s love garden”. When did I become so cheesy and dorky I wondered to myself? Great…now I’ll have to explain botany to her as well. I was pleasantly surprised when she said, “okay!” and ran off to see what shenanigans Elmo and Grover were getting into today. Phew! Crisis averted I thought. Wrong! My child simply needed time to process what I said and formulate hundreds of secondary questions to ask about said topic. Elmo and Grover once again failed me in their role of distracting my daughter from imminent sophistication.
As I tried to satiate her unappeasable mind, I attempted to do so in the most nonchalant and gentle way, but it came out more clumsy and fake than anything. As I recall it sounded something like this…”uh, well, honey, your Daddy and Mommy really love each other, and, uh, we decided to turn our love into a person so we could see our love running around before our very eyes, and so, uh, we, uh, kissed each other and poof! Magically a baby popped into Mommy’s tummy!”
Silence. We just stood their sizing each other up. She was staring into my very soul trying to determine if I was on the up and up and I was surveying her face trying to figure out if she bought it or not. Following was a deluge of other questions that I ducked and dodged and fumbled my way through answering. I felt like I was being interrogated by the bad cop and I was blowing it. Then the question came that was even more difficult to answer. The one which wondered how the baby was coming out once it was ready. I immediately wished I was some celebrity who was above the medical law and could elect a c-section as well as the date on which it would occur because having a vaginal birth is just “icky”! Then I could just say that the doctor opens Mommy’s belly and out pops the baby as easily as it got in in the first place. But of course that would have been a bold-faced lie.
The reason this question is tougher than “where do babies come from” is because you can’t be as poetic and abstract in answering it. The truth is pretty straightforward. If you’re not getting a c-section, there’s only one way that baby is escaping from your womb. The nether regions. In case you didn’t know, babies are born through the nether regions. Now how do you explain this to a girl without horrifying her or to a boy without giving him something to immaturely giggle about for the next ten years? You don’t. You just say “the baby comes out of the privates”. Blessedly most children will interpret this as “Mommy is going to pee the baby out”. This is truly how kids think. This is how I answered my daughter and this is what she took with her as the way things work as far as babies go.
Luckily, my second daughter was too young when I was pregnant with my third to even wonder how she got into my belly so I got away scot free without having to explain anything to her. As she gets older and observes other pregnant women, I’m sure she’ll start to wonder and I’m sure her older sister will be the first one to get a hold of her and explain how everything works. Who knows how convoluted her answer will be with the minimal information I gave her paired what she’s observed in the media mixed together with what she’s heard from her peers. Her sister is going to be really confused, but as long as she doesn’t ask me, I’m good. Of course at some point I’ll want to sort it all out for her so she doesn’t get the wrong idea.
As a parent we are faced with years of difficult questions that we’ll have to do our very best to answer. There is no text book available that can give you direction as far as what to tell your child because each one is different and comes with his or her own set of rules. Prepare yourself by rehearsing your answers in your mind ahead of time and make sure you are also ready to field the really tough questions that are coming your way like, “do the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus really exist?”