The Talk.
August 30, 2012

Lately Charlotte has developed a habit of sitting outside the shower and bombarding me with questions while I scrub up.  It is fascinating to me to hear where her imagination takes her as she tries to make sense of the world.

How big is a baby dragon?  Is it bigger than a coyote?

Can fairies make magic spells without their magic wands?

Who turns off the sun at bedtime?

Why is shower water a liquid?

How many dogs are barking in the world RIGHT NOW?

Why did you not let me put stickers on the wall?

I answer each question as thoughtfully and accurately as I can…when possible.  But I do leave the fantasy untouched.  How big do YOU think a baby dragon is?, I might ask.

A few days ago, in between asking questions about why knights joust and questions to determine at what exact time in the day we could hit up a park, Charlotte dropped the big bomb. “Okay Momma,” she said.  “How does the baby get into your belly?”

And after I had thoroughly explained the process of sex: “Okay Momma.  But how does the baby come out of your belly?”

So I explained the process of birth as well.

Charlotte diligently repeated parts of my explanations, asked for clarification, considered this vast new body of information.  She turned the new words over in her mouth, tried them on for size.

Then, just as I was starting to feel quite proud of myself for having navigated one of those rare moments when you are absolutely positive that you have Excelled As A Parent, my daughter cast me a look of grave concern.

“But Momma,” she said.  “Can the baby please wait to be born until after we go to Disneyland again?”

Oh, the things that really matter to a three-year-old after all.

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  1. By missjoules on August 30, 2012

    So… *Is* there a Disneyland trip planned before the baby comes?

  2. By on August 30, 2012

    I love answering my kids’ questions. And like you, I leave the fantasy stuff completely up to them the same way. My daughter, Olivia, will be 5 next month (OMG, 5!!) and as much as she loves learning about the human body she has yet to ask how babies get in even though we have had many detailed discussions on how they get out.

  3. By Clare on August 30, 2012

    So… how did you explain sex? And birth? Accurate yes. But in what details.

  4. By Sarah Christensen on August 30, 2012

    MissJoules - Yes.  We’re planning on having a family week in October so that we build up a nice stockpile of family memories (and, more specifically, of memories doing fun things alone with Daddy) before the baby is due.  We want Charlotte to already view lone outings with Donald as a habit and we want her to have a bunch of fun things going on before and after the baby is born so that she doesn’t view the baby as a negative addition.

    Clare - Charlotte’s already familiar with most of the anatomy, so I explained it more or less like this: There is one part of the vulva that is called a vagina or a birth canal.  Daddy and Momma decided together to have sex.  Sex is when Daddy puts his penis inside of Momma’s vagina and ejaculates sperm.  Adults have sex for a lot of different reasons and the most important part of it is that both people want to have sex and are old enough to have sex.  Daddy’s sperm entered Momma’s vagina at around the same time that Momma’s ovaries had put one of her eggs down her Fallopian tubes.  The sperm fertilized the egg (I used the garden to explain fertilization, not sure how much of that part she understood) and the cells began to multiply.  Pretty soon there were a bunch of cells that implanted in Momma’s uterine lining and then they slowly grew into a baby.  (I showed her photographs and illustrations of fetal development to explain this part).  The baby takes a long time to grow, so Momma’s belly takes a long time to grow too.  When the baby is ready to be born, it tells Momma that it’s time.  Momma’s uterus begins to contract and her cervix dilates so that the baby can travel down the birth canal.  Momma’s pelvis loosens and widens and then when the baby gets all the way to the opening of the vagina or birth canal, Momma starts to push and push and push until the baby comes out.  When the baby comes out, we say that the baby is born.  The baby is attached to its placenta by its umbilical cord (Charlotte has a pretty good understanding of this, so we didn’t have to go into detail about the placenta and cord).  The baby is put onto Momma’s chest so that it can stay warm and have milk.  After Momma pushes the placenta down the birth canal too, Daddy or Grandma cuts the umbilical cord.  After that, the baby is not connected to Momma anymore.  For a few weeks after a baby is born, Momma is very tired.  Alot of blood comes down her birth canal just like the baby and the placenta did.  The blood comes from the uterus and it’s a good thing because it means that Momma’s body is healing itself after growing a baby and giving birth.  After awhile, Momma stops bleeding, just like how she stops bleeding at the end of a period (she’s relatively familiar with this concept - at least, she understands that I sometimes bleed and then stop and that it doesn’t hurt me and is a normal bodily function of women).  And that’s it!

  5. By on August 30, 2012

    I am also very interested in how you explained sex and birth in detail. I don’t have children yet, but when I do I don’t plan to lie to them or make up stories about how babies are made and come into the world. I would really love to hear how other people (especially you as I respect your approach to parenting so much) explain this to their young children. Not many people talk about this subject, and it would be nice to have ideas when the time comes to have that conversation with my own children.

  6. By on August 30, 2012

    I suppose I posted just a moment to late, thank you so much for sharing! You are fantastic!

  7. By on August 30, 2012

    okay, so I am just gonna print out your explanation and use it. My kids are 7,6,4 and 2 and we haven’t had that question asked. I did hear the three oldest discussing where a baby came out the other day, so I called them into my room and explained that. To which, my 4 year old replied, “Oh so you are just like one of Dada’s (my dad) cows? I saw a baby come out of one. No big deal”. Nice.

  8. By Sarah Christensen on August 30, 2012


    It’s okay, when I told Charlotte that she could share the milk with the new baby, she asked if I had hidden nipples like the cats do so that lots of babies could have milk all at once.

    Um.  No, kid.  No I don’t.

  9. By Lindsey on September 01, 2012

    I’m not even kidding: when I have kids, I am totally using your posts/comments/etc as a “how to” when talking to my kids and when doing at-home pre-school learning/education :)

  10. By Sarah Christensen on September 04, 2012

    LOL Lindsey, you might want to wait a few years then and make sure that I haven’t scarred my children for life first! =P

    As an update, we have had an alarming number of questions relative to sex since this discussion including, surprisingly, questions about sex in Lesbian couples we know who have children.  How do two girls have sex?  Do all Daddys put their penises inside of Mommas to make babies?  When do people have sex?  Why does she never see people have sex?  Do kids have sex?  Why not?  Etc.

    I’m answering her honestly still and trying to stick to the basics - she can learn more detailed information when she’s older and more capable of abstract thought - but I think she finds the sex idea much more interesting than birth lol.

  11. By Camille on September 11, 2012

    Hahaha! Priceless. My 3 year old is the same way. She has so many questions, sometimes I don’t even know the answers. Thank goodness for Google! I think answering all her questions honestly really helps her understand and accept what’s going on. I also read my pregnancy updates with her and watch birth videos with her. I want her to feel included in the whole process so she won’t be jealous when Baby Sister gets here. :) Little kids can really understand a lot more than most people give them credit for!!





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