Our friends Alicia and Vic just had a little baby girl named Amy a few weeks ago. My best friend Craig and his wife Kelly also had a daughter five days ago named Jordan. Will saw both Alicia and Kelly repeatedly throughout their pregnancies, watched their bellies grow and seemed to be constantly amazed and filled with questions as to how the baby grows and survives in the womb.
So I guess it’s only natural for him to wonder how they come out too.
It started Saturday when I told him Jordan was born and showed him a picture. He was ecstatic and wanted to hold her, because he recently held Amy and loved it. It was so cute because of how focused he was. He took his responsibilities as a baby-holder ULTRA seriously and was all business. It took major coaxing just to get him to loosen up and smile. But I digress…
So long story short, Will asked me how baby Jordan came out of Kelly’s stomach. I wasn’t sure how to answer, so I bought myself more time by asking him how he thinks babies are born.
“Baby Jordan came out of Auntie Kelly’s bellybutton,” he said.
We all have different parenting styles. For instance, some parents would be tempted to concur with Will’s explanation of childbirth and leave it at that. Others opt to make up a story that loosely resembles the truth but skips all the uncomfortable parts. I don’t fault the parents who go these routes. I get it. But ultimately, when faced with these situations, I’ve chosen a vastly different path.
Honesty. Brutal honesty.
“Not quite buddy,” I began gingerly. “Babies don’t come out of a bellybutton. Actually, they come out of a woman’s vagina.”
“WHAT?!? ‘Baginas??’ Stop it dad. You’re kidding.”
“Nope, I’m serious,” I said. “The mom pushes the baby out through her vagina. That’s how it happens.”
But apparently the mere notion of natural childbirth was decidedly unnatural to my son. He really didn’t believe me. So, faced with his continued curiosity and the fact that he doesn’t believe me, I did what all modern parents do when facing a quandary.
I asked for advice on Twitter.
I got some well-intentioned, run-of-the-mill advice at first but then someone suggested something very simple and brilliant. He said there are many videos of natural childbirth on YouTube, so why not show Will what I was talking about instead of inadequately attempting to describe it?
I know what some of you are thinking. You’re screaming “Are you crazy??? You’re going to show your 3.5-year-old a video of a partially nude woman giving birth?! That’s so inappropriate!” And that’s fine, you’re welcome to your opinions. I know my sister-in-law Melissa had the same reaction, and she’s a medical doctor. But I see absolutely nothing pornographic or inappropriate about childbirth, and therefore I see no reason not to show Will. It’s pretty much akin to breastfeeding. Yes Will sees a glimpse of a woman’s breast at times when she’s feeding a newborn, but so what? We tell him that’s how babies eat. And he accepts it, realizes it’s no big deal and moves on.
I want to be honest with my son and give him straight answers whenever possible. And this was one of those times when it made total sense. So, I showed him.
The video was of a woman engaged in a homebirth. She was pushing and grunting, and Will watched with a look that conveyed interest mixed with confusion. Then the woman got on her knees with her back to the camera, gave one final push and suddenly the baby’s head was visible. Will’s jaw dropped and he smiled, pointing to the baby. And for a moment, I was very proud of my son for being so adult, and for my parenting techniques and decision to show him.
“Do you have any questions bud?” I asked.
“Yeah dada. Why does the baby come out of the mama’s bum?”
“No no no, the baby didn’t come out of her bum. It came out of her vagina.”
“Um Dad, ACTUALLY it came out of her bum. Look.”
“Will, I know it kinda looks like the baby came out of her bum, but trust me. It didn’t. Babies come out of vaginas.”
“How do you know, Dad?”
“Because I watched when you were born and I would’ve remembered you coming out of Mom’s bum. Trust me, you came out the vagina.”
“But Dada, there’s pee in baginas. Did mom pee on me?”
At that point, far off in the distance, I thought I heard the distinct sound of a train derailing, crashing into a building and then careening over a cliff landing with a fiery explosion. Somehow, in the blink of an eye, I went from teaching my son a valuable life lesson to discussing ass play and golden showers. And the worst part is he’s obsessed with babies right now and he talks to anyone who will listen about babies falling out of bums and how mom peed on him.
Needless to say I’m dreading the inevitable call from his preschool teacher, and having to explain to her that my son and I were watching YouTube videos together and talking about vaginas and assholes.
That stupid stork is looking more and more appealing.