“Mommy, Where Do Babies Come From?”

There are certain phrases that you imagine hearing, years before they may ever be spoken. As an adolescent, you dream of those three little words “I Love You,” being said with something other than a familial connotation. You envision the intoxicating “I do,” and long for the significant, “Congratulations, it’s a (put sex here).”

The phrase I heard today didn’t represent one of these reveries. Instead, I got the ever-dreaded question “Mommy, where do babies come from?” and more specifically, “How do they get out?” This is not the first time I’ve been asked this question, but it’s the first time I considered answering it honestly.

 

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I’ve given quite a few explanations over the years: The stork, the basket on the doorstep, “out of mommy’s bellybutton.” I’ve even given the seldom used, “We found you in a trashcan,” explanation. An excuse used by my own dad, who on too many occasions told the tale of how they first heard my echoing cry, and then debated whether or not to take me out.

How is this happening? Just last week I reiterated, with strong conviction, the existence of the Tooth Fairy, and now I’m about to share the reality of how one enters the world? While I looked around the crowded diner for signs of eavesdropping, J said, “Do they come out of your belly?”

“They can.” I said, hedging.

“So they have to cut your belly open and take the baby out?”

How come when he says it, it seems like a scene from Alien?

“They can.” Still hedging.

“How do they put your belly back together?”

“Stitches,” I replied, knowing this would not be the end.

“RY… RYYYYYY!” J yelled to his sister, “You’re gonna have surgery, ‘cause you’re a girl and girls grow babies.”

Ry, who was previously occupied with the jelly packet mountain she was building, looked up in horror.

“Whaaat?” She cried and looked to me for some explanation as her mountain toppled over (for dramatic effect).

“Go back to your jelly.” I said attempting to redirect her. “J, there’s another way,” I whispered, bracing myself for the look I was about to see. “Babies can also come out of a Mommy’s vagina.”

No amount of bracing could have prepared me for the grossed-out, confused, gape-mouthed, unblinking eyes that now stared at me. A scene from Alien on the table across from us would have been a treat.

“NUH-UH!” He said in horrified denial, as if I was saying it to be funny. Like telling him if he eats too many watermelon seeds, he’ll grow a watermelon vine in his belly.

“It’s true.”

“WHAAAT, BABIES COME OUT OF YOUR VAGINA??”

The families that hadn’t been paying attention to us before quickly turned, as “vagina” is not the usual morning conversation fare.

“Shhh, J we can’t scream the word vagina in public,” I whispered thinking, this wouldn’t be the first time (see the “Let’s Name Our Dog Butt Munch” article).

“Well, I think it’s better to cut open your belly.”

“Why?”

“If it comes out of your vagina, the baby would just drop in the toilet. Yuck!”

Not where I thought this conversation would go, but before I knew it, I was explaining stirrups and OBs pulling out babies and OMG I just wanted an omelet!!!

Jtook this in with unwavering interest. I felt like I could actually see the mechanics of his mind, like watching the inner workings of a watch. Just when I thought he had digested it all he said,

“How do the babies get inside you?”

No way am I going there, not until he finds the Tooth Fairy utterly ridiculous.“Eggs,” I said, “Eat your eggs.”

I was quoted in Redbook magazine August, p.27 in response to the Question:  Is it ever appropriate to get “Hot and Heavy” when you’re a houseguest?

My response, “It’s always appropriate to get hot and heavy, unless you are staying with your parents.  Then it’s only appropriate to get warm and light.

Sage advice, sage advice.

 

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29 thoughts on ““Mommy, Where Do Babies Come From?”

  1. Cherie

    I couldn’t stop laughing wondering what was coming next. I guess I won’t be baby sitting for a while until this blows over. Well, its better than the cabbage patch explanation, maybe a little too literal…great story. Will he ever eat eggs again?

    Reply
  2. Lainie

    When my curiosity got the best of me as a small child , my mom went out and bought the book ” Where did I come from?”. I stll have it to this day, awaiting the impending question from my own girls. Its complete with catoonish pictures of a walking , talking vagina and penis. Wanna borrow it???? the sequels, of which i have both, are “Whats happening to me?” , and then, ” Congratulations, you’re not pregnant”. Im not looking forward to the day when i have to share these with the kids, but it will definately make it that more enjoyable.

    Reply
  3. Jennys dad

    Read your blog. Not so good news to tell you. Actually there were 3 trash can babies. Originally we had picked the other 2, but they were considdered to be “Picks of the Litter” so we couldn’t have them. We were a little sad but decided to take you anyway. . Only kiddn, you’re the best.

    Reply
  4. rachael

    LOTS OF LOVE, HUGS, AND KISSES MAKE BABIES!!!!!! How they come out is one thing…but how the sperm meets the egg is not a topic to be “scrambling” with yet!!!!!!

    Reply
  5. The Business Coach for Moms

    I always thought I would be open and honest with these questions, as my mother’s answers were always an indignant, hostile high-pitched, “WHY?! WHY YOU WANNA KNOW!” This was very strange because she was normally so calm and patient with her children’s questions. LOL!!

    I don’t do that to my children. I do, however, come up with some AMAZINGLY WEIRD answers; a mixture of old wives tales and mother goose put together. I don’t know why!
    Me: “Don’t touch yourself down there or you’ll go blind.”
    CHILD: “How can that happen?”
    ME (putting out the smirk and indignation, how dare he question my authority at the age of 4!!) “It’ll will grow into a huge bean stalk and the giant will use it to climb down here and poke your eyes out!”

    I know it’s wrong. But it worked.

    Reply
  6. admin Post author

    Dad- I hate to sound cocky, but you and I both know I was the pick of the trashcan”litter”

    Lanie- your books take all the anxiety out of the equation… where’s the fun in that?

    Rach- Yes, we will wait on that one, and eat omelets galore till that day.

    Biz- creative and therapist educing advice.

    Reply
  7. Bari

    Hey Jen,

    You know if you REALLY want to have some fun… freak the kids out and tell ’em the BOOGIEMAN did it! That’ll shut ’em up for a while. Or just be blunlty honest, use all correct terminology, be exceeding explicit… then hang up when you get calls from the other moms beacuse your child taught thier children some cool things they never knew!

    Reply
  8. shocked and awed

    He’ll go blind? While I get that you don’t want his hand in his pants in public- this is horrible! How is your son ever going to trust you or believe you when you give him good advice after finding out this is a lie?
    Exploring our bodies is natural, and kids are very curious. Instead of the lies, tell him that it is something he can only do in private- like when he is alone in his room.
    Nothing good can come from lying to your children. I am not suggesting that you always have to tell the whole truth, but giving them correct information appropriate to their age will teach them to trust and believe you.

    Reply
  9. rachy

    “with great pain!!!!”

    that is all i could think of in reading your “teaser” sent in facebook, where it ends with “how do they get out?”

    btw–on a related thought: now that he knows he spent time in mommy’s belly, you can always threaten to back charge him for 9 months rent!

    Reply
  10. Karen B. Rosenberg

    My kids were both born C-section. Oldest thought the scar was a zip-lock baggie. Escaped the fornication conversation at the zoo once. One of the giant turtles had mounted another, and was slowly grunting. Child asked why they were fighting. We explained that the top turtle was trying to push the other turtle into the woods to be with her family. And the terrible noise the bigger turtle was making? Asthma.

    Reply
  11. rachy

    a little post-script that jsut hit me looking at your link in facebook:

    just thinking that even the honest answer is getting complicated, what with: adoptive parents, in-vitro fertilization, egg doners. sperm doners, surigate mothers, “rent-a-womb” arrangements, same-sex partners as parents, and that doesn’t even get to the topic of cloning!

    yikes, that could take hours to explain all the possible arrangement by which babies come into the world!

    Reply
  12. Jen

    When my 3 year old daughter asked for a sister, I explained that I had to order her off the internet. Unfortunately, babies were on backorder so she would have to wait a while. She had a baby sister at the age of five and is now waiting for a baby brother. To her dismay, baby boys are on backorder for much longer than sisters. I plan on sticking to this story until she graduates high school at least.

    Reply
  13. Gibby

    Hilarious! Just this past weekend, my 5-year-old asked my father-in-law where babies come from. I wish I had a camera for the priceless look on his face!

    Reply
  14. Adela

    You brought back some bleak, but funny memories for me. My four kids are grown and facing that question themselves. One grandchild, when told that the baby came out the vagina, went to the tool drawer, retrieved a flashlight, and offered to see if the baby was ready. It was sweet Karma. When I ever-so-delicately explained to his father, my then grade-school little boy, how the baby got in there, he had this to say: “You mean you did that to Dad four times?” to which I replied, hedging as you did, “At least.” He pondered this a moment before asking the next question: “Did he like it?” Again my careful reply: “He seemed to.” Not the line of questioning I was at all expecting.

    Reply
  15. Natalie

    You did a great job! Congratulations.

    My daughter was very concerned when I was late in my last pregnancy. She wondered how it all work out. I told her quietly that there is a special place on a woman’s body for that, and that the doctor helps the baby get out. That was enough to satisfy her curiousity. Whew!

    Reply
  16. David Rosman

    As always, good stuff. My own father, who was a pilot and owner of a bicycle store (no Wright Brothrs jokes please) had two stories for me.
    1) I was brought in a DC-3 (old twin engine cargo plane) and
    2) He got me as a gift from Schwinn Bicycle. He even had a box that proved this version. I asked Frank Schwinn one day and he assured me that Schwinn did not make me. It must of been Columbia Bicycle in Westfield MA.

    Dave Rosman

    Reply
  17. kate

    My mum was incredibly up-tight. I always swore that whatever my kids (2girls) asked me I would just answer as truthfully and simply as possible. sometimes it would be easier to just shine them on with the stork story but in the long run I hope my temporary discomfort is better for them. teh best they ever asked was in the supermarket line about a large tough looking construction worker behind us ” mummy does he have a penis like daddy? yes he does I answered. Does he like his penis? I’m sure he does I answered.” I have never seen such a tough guy go that colour of scarlet in my life.

    Reply
  18. Cheryl

    I went the slow, truthful and gradual route of disclosure with my son, answering questions honestly as they came in tiny bits over the years. I gave him answers to his questions simply without giving him more information than what he asked for. I told him that babies do not grow or come out of a mother’s stomach or “butt”. I gave him a quick rundown on human anatomy using the proper terminology. Then the lesson about how the baby is formed…so I told him about the egg and sperm. Then he saw a tampon commercial and asked what that was all about, so I told him. Then at age 8 he finally asked how the sperm got in there, I took a deep breath and told him. He had just finished studying frogs in school and saw a video that included frogs “mating”, so I used that as a point of reference and related it to humans. He took it pretty matter of factly, but did say that it all seemed a little “weird”. I told him that it may seem weird to him now, but when you really love someone and want to have a family together, it’s actually a really wonderful way to express your love and closeness with your mate. Then I told him that it is a very special thing, and that it’s a parent’s decision when and how to explain it to their kids, so if he has questions or wants to discuss it more, he can talk to me or his dad. And that was that. Not too big of a deal after all.

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  19. Huh?

    Why are you “dreading” this conversation? What’s the big deal? Why are people making up stories? This is a time you get to impart actual knowledge with no stigma and no embarrassment. And you get to give the moral spin that is important to you. There is no shame in sex or in telling children biological facts. Are you uncomfortable to talk to them about sickness and death too?

    Reply
  20. Father of Five

    Perhaps they should start biology and sex ed a little earlier (pre-K would be fine with me) to help parents avoid this awkward encounter. My parents had no problem letting me learn the “truth” through trial and error from friends and friends. By the time my Mom made my Dad have ‘the talk’ with me, I knew waaaaay more than they did—- or did I?

    Reply
  21. Suzanne Tucker

    i get what “huh?” above is saying… but don’t have any energy around it 🙂 i loved your story and appreciate that in the end, you told your children the truth. we use all regular/anatomical names in our home and always have. they do not flinch to hear vagina or penis. they know babies get inside when mom and dad make love. they get it about eggs and sperm even. they know how they came into the world (vaginal deliveries) and even which way the baby faces normally when they do.

    my kids are 6 and 9 though, and we are expecting twins, so it’s natual they’ve been asking alot of questions and we’ve been meeting everyone with the real answer. i hope they can be at the birth of our twins. they want to be. we’ll see how it goes.

    sex and how we’re made and how we are born are normal natural things for kids to be curious about and i agree, they deserve the real deal answer from their parents 🙂 just give them age appropriate ones. start with simple answers and elaborate if they want to know more. follow your mommy instincts too. every kid is different just like we as parents are all unique as well. i’m just glad we are free to talk about sex now cause i sure as h-e-double hockey sticks- want to be talking about it when they are 13 – 16 – 20 year old young women!!!

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  22. Petula

    You’re so funny … and good! LOL… You handled that perfectly. So, did she look up from the jelly mountain when the word vagina echoed off the walls? So far I haven’t had to have any detailed discussions with my younger children about exactly where babies come from and come out of, but I can remember my oldest daughter asking. She was not pleased with the answers. Traumatized is more like it. ROFL.

    Funny thing is I read that comment in Redbook and don’t even think I read who said it. The comment stuck out to me. Cool. I’ve been quoted in All You and I had a letter to the editor published in a Redbook mag earlier this year. UNFORTUNATELY, “someone” had a bad case of momnesia and accidentally put it in the recycle bin. That same someone also can’t remember what issue it was. Hopefully I… I mean they will track it down.

    Look out for me in a September All You regarding my weight loss. 🙂

    Reply
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