Yesterday my 4 yr old daughter came home from preschool and spent most of the afternoon playing in the yard with her brothers and the dog. This happy quiet playing allowed me to unpack a few more boxes in my bedroom. (It also resulted in my cellphone being dumped into a bucket of water... :-) )
While I folded and sorted clothing for babies of all genders and ages, Odeliya came wandering in to my room with a baby doll in her arms.
"Mommy, when you go to have a baby do you go to the doctor and he cuts you open and takes out your baby and then puts your stomach back?"
Did I hear that right? I mean, WHAT?! deep breath.
"What was that, Odeliya?" I asked. She repeated her initial statement almost to the word. Now, it is very important to note that Odeliya is not a verbally expressive child. She is emotional and physical, but not generally verbal. So this was extremely articulate for you.
Clearly I couldn't exclaim "No! that is NOT how babies are born!" because the truth is that some babies do need to be born that way.
Two things were going through my mind at this point:
1) Where did she hear this?
and 2) When did cesarean birth become the prevailing notion for how babies get born?
"Odeliya, where did you hear that?"
"Tal told Daria in gan that that's how babies are born." Oh great, Daria's mother is due any minute, I'm sure she's going to love hearing this even more than I did!
"I see. Well, Odeliya, that is not the way that babies are born. Sometime, if there is an emergency - if something is really wrong - a baby might need to be taken out that way. But that is not the way all babies are born."
In the span of 10 seconds several versions of how to explain birth to a 4 year old - this 4 year old - flashed through my mind and none of them felt right. If I were talking to Netanel, I could have told him. Odeliya doesn't pay too much attention to words. So after a brief mental debate where I weighed to benefits vs. risks of going to video, I asked her if she would like to see how babies are born. I wished at that moment that I had a video of her birth to show her... but we went to youtube instead.
Odeliya was fascinated, completely enthralled. She watched with quiet focus as several mommies birthed their babies.
I watched her reactions, and quietly commented that the blood she was seeing is what cushions the baby inside the mommy and not scary blood like when she gets a booboo. I think I made another explanation too, but I can't remember about what. Afterwards I asked her what she thought and this was her response:
And off she went to carry on torturing the dog!
Thanks, Dels, I'm glad we had this little talk.