The Birds and The Bees
I was about seven years old and I found a compelling photo on the cover of a Life magazine in my parents’ bookshelf. It was a picture of a bluish, slimy baby just coming out of the birth canal. Inside the magazine was a pictorial essay detailing conception, pregnancy and childbirth. I was shocked to see a woman’s vagina stretched to the limits with a misshapen baby’s head peeking out.
The images brought many questions to mind. First and foremost, if a man’s sperm fertilizes a woman’s egg and the baby grows in the mother’s belly and then comes out of the vagina, how does the sperm get in there? I had to ask my mother.
Initially she claimed I was too young to ask these questions. My pleading finally wore her down and we had the “talk.” I learned that the man puts his penis inside the woman’s vagina to insert the sperm.
I could not wait to share the fascinating, scary, miraculous and disgusting news with my friends. I called a neighborhood meeting. With the magazine for visual aid, I spilled all the dirty details. A dozen pony-tailed heads with wide marble eyes were fixed on the pages of the magazine as I relayed the story. I closed with the pizza-like afterbirth picture.
There were a few moments of silence before Caroline exclaimed, “That’s not true! Babies come out of your butt, not your vagina.” There was no convincing her otherwise, even with photographic proof. Her mother told her that babies came out of your rear end, very much like a big poo.
A week later, I was at Caroline’s house playing dolls. Her mother stormed into the room and glared at me. “Stacy, do you know how to make babies?” she bellowed. Shocked and confused, I looked into the eyes of the plastic Baby Alive in my arms. Was she talking about dolls? Again, she taunted, “Do you know how to make babies?”
“Then don’t go around telling my daughter lies about how babies are born!”
I still wonder, to this day, why Caroline’s mother was so angry with me. Maybe she was mad that she had been discovered as a liar? Maybe she had planned on having the “talk” much later and I’d spoiled it for her. Maybe she was too afraid to approach the subject and just hoped she’d never have to answer those hard questions.
I, for one, am very grateful that my mom had the courage and sensibility to tell me the truth. I’m a firm believer that knowledge is empowering, no matter what your age. If a child is old enough to ask a question, then she’s old enough for an answer. My 3 and 6-year-old girls already know that one of them came out of my vagina during childbirth and the other was removed via an incision the doctor made in my belly.
TMI you think? I’ll let you know how it affected them… in about 20 years.
So, even if you haven’t had a baby yet, this is something to start pondering. It’s good to be prepared. What do think your approach to “the birds and the bees” will be?