“Do I have a uterus?” my 3-year-old wants to know. “Yes!” I tell her enthusiastically. “When you’re an adult, if you decide to have a baby, it will grow in your uterus.”
“So I have a uterus all day?”
“Does Daddy have a uterus?”
This is the sort of conversation I have daily with my precocious and gynecologically-inclined preschooler. I assumed my pregnancy would interest her — I just never imagined how much. Almost every night we play “Let’s pretend I’m being born.” She climbs inside my nightgown and snuggles there until I dramatically announce, “The baby is coming!” Then she wriggles out, landing on my chest, where she pretends to be swaddled. I don’t hate this game. It’s cozy.
Despite frequent readings of When You Were Inside Mommy and What’s in There? (I don’t know — a spaghetti squash?), my daughter continues to have many, many questions about reproduction. I try to be as honest as possible without overwhelming or scaring her. We use real anatomical words and facts. So if you have a playdate with us, ready or not, she may tell your child that babies come out of the vagina. And sometimes she adds her own insights.
“Then the nurse has to make sure the baby doesn’t get stuck in the hair.”
She is talking about pubic hair, which she finds vaguely offensive and sees as a impediment to a successful birth, despite my best efforts to correct her.
I’ve told her a lot, but not everything. For the moment, my daughter accepts that a man provides the sperm and a woman provides an egg. Hopefully, she imagines sperm and egg meeting like ingredients in a Hollandaise sauce because I am not ready to talk about intercourse. The most tripped up I’ve gotten so far is when she wanted to know how families with two daddies are able to have babies. She was satisfied with “a nice lady gives them an egg,” without me having to get itno adoption, surrogacy or IVF. Maybe next year.
Though some of our conversations are tricky, I’m glad my kid is so curious. For one thing, learning about the body has helped her to understand my strange pregnancy symptoms, and why she probably shouldn’t kick me in the belly. “Is the baby pressing on your bladder again?” she asks, when I interrupt our play to pee for the thousandth time. “Mom,” she laughs. “You are a peeing machine.”
The downside of all of this information is that my daughter is no longer sure she wants to have children some day. Pregnancy no doubt seems like too much trouble. I remember announcing the same thing to my mother, after she admitted to me that being pregnant means lots of doctors’ visits (I was terribly fearful of shots). Luckily, it’s woman’s perogative to change her mind.
My daughter hasn’t closed the door on becoming a mommy completely. “My baby’s still in my egg in case I want her, right Mom?” Maybe not exactly how they teach it in medical school, but right enough.