How does the sperm get to the egg?
One night, at approximately 10pm (which was about 2.5 hours past my kids’ bedtimes), my darling little (almost-six-year-old at the time) daughter decided that it was high time she ask us some very pointed questions. About exactly how babies are made. And with whom they can be made. And why? And how? HOW? One night, at approximately 10pm (which is about 2.5 hours past my kids’ bedtimes), I nearly died of embarrassment while telling my darling little daughter exactly how that happens. Well, sorta.
You might remember a post I wrote about being frank with the kids, and using the correct terms for body parts. I also wrote a piece called Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby for AMotherworld.com. I really thought I was ready for this conversation as we’ve been slowly doling out the puzzle pieces for ages now. Since forever, we’ve taught Story and Mason (who was then 2.5 and only really interested in comparing his penis to that of his Daddy) to use the right words for their bits and pieces. I mean, saying “vulva” or “scrotum” shouldn’t be any more embarrassing than saying, “lungs” or “spine”, really. They’re all just parts of the machine, right? Along the same theme, we’ve always answered any of Story’s questions truthfully (Mason hasn’t started asking anything but “Why my penish big?“… typical), but also taking care to give her only as much information as requested so as not to confuse her. When we had Mason, she was just over two years old, and she has occasionally asked questions about how he came to be, exactly. She seemed happy with the whole, “A seed from Daddy and an egg from Mommy combined to make a Mason in Mommy’s tummy” story.
Story was to turn six in a few weeks, and I’ll be honest: it never crossed my mind that we’d be having this discussion with her at that age, but hey, it’s done now, and there’s no un-knowing it. She knows about periods, and why they happen. She knows that she has different parts that make her female from those that make her brother and Daddy male. She knows women have eggs, men have sperm, and she knew that somehow those two products combined to form new people. It was the “how” that she
wanted needed to know.
And, by the way, do you know who I blame for planting these seeds of curiosity in my sweet little child’s head? BlogHer.
Damn you BlogHer and your sponsor booths! Damn you heavyperiods.com for handing out the cutest stuffed uterus toys I’ve ever seen (ok, the only stuffed uterus toys I’ve ever seen). I brought two of those adorable little whacky, smiling, fallopian-tube-flailing stuffies home for the kids and they’ve been a hot topic ever since. Story wanted to know what a uterus does exactly. And what are those little arms? And what about those balls? Ovaries? What? Oh, eggs? Where do they go?
What? Where? Why? HOW?
It was a late night, and the four of us were lying in our big bed together, in the dark, after watching a movie and reading books and chatting, chatting, chatting forever. This is how it all went down:
Story: What’s a uterus for, Mommy?
Me: It’s basically a nest for a baby.
Story: Why do we have eggs?
Mason: OOTERUSH! EGGS! I HAVE A OOTERUSH!
Me: To make babies. With sperm.
Mason: SPERM! Mommy, mommy, mommy, I have ooterush? I have sperm? Mommy, mommy, mommy…
Story: So boys have the sperm and girls have the eggs? If the egg needs a sperm to make a baby, then how do they meet, Mommy?
Me: Um. They meet as the egg is heading to the uterus.
Mason: OOTERUSH! SPERM! EGGS! BAGINA!
[At this point I was kicking my husband to get in the game and help me out here]
Story: But how? How does that happen exactly?
Mason: How we make babies, Mommy?
[Since the kicking wasn’t working, I then pinched Ryan. Hard.]
Ryan: They just meet up, Story.
Me: Do you have any ideas about how it could happen, Story?
Mason: Mommy? Mommy! Mommy! Mommy? I yuv my ooterush. [He said as he snuggled his fuzzy pink uterus toy close and I cursed myself for ever bringing that damn thing home]
Story: Like, does the sperm float in there? To the egg? Does it float through the air and then into the vagina and then up there and then make a baby like that?
[Thank god it was dark in the room so she couldn’t see my red face.]
Me: Well, no, not exactly. But it does go in there and if it happens to meet an egg, then a baby could be made.
Mason: Mommy! Mommy! Penish. I have a penish. My penish is big, yike Daddy. I make it bigger, bigger, bigger…
Story: So, how? Just tell me how.
[She was getting indignant.]
Ryan: We’ll tell you all about it later. It’s late, and you need to go to sleep.
Story: I can’t sleep. I have to know how. HOW DOES THE SPERM GET TO THE EGG?
Mason: I NO GO SHEEP NOW! I NO TIRED.
Ryan: Ok, look. The man touches his penis to the woman’s vagina.
Mason: I have a penish.
[And at this point embarrassment overtook me and I nearly died on the spot.]
Story: What? So like when they’re nudies… and then…Can I…
Mason: I be nudies in the hot tub an’ I swim and I wear my wings and I be nudies.
[And I could tell at this point she was wondering what the holy hell could happen during shared bathtime with her brother.]
Ryan: Kids don’t have babies, Story.
Story: Oh. Ok. Can I have a baby with my brother? When I’m bigger? I love Mason. I’ll have babies with Mason.
Mason: I NOT A BABY! I A BIG BOY!
[How did we get here? How did we go from a cute fuzzy uterus toy to incest? HOW? Weren’t we just reading a Franklin book, like, two minutes ago?]
Me: No, Story, that’s not how it’s done. When you’re grown up, you’ll fall in love with someone in a totally different way from how you love Mason. I love you in a different way from how I love Daddy. And I love my friends in a different way. The making babies way is different.
Mason: Mommy? I yuv you. I yuv you mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy?
Story: Huh. And then we’ll get married and touch privates and have babies?
Me: Well, kinda. How about I get you a book? Someone told me about a great book I think you’ll love and it’ll show you exactly how this stuff happens.
Story: DOES IT HAVE PICTURES!?
Mason: I read dat book. I read it? Mommy? I read dat book?
Story: NO! It’s for ME, Mason. NOT YOU.
Mason: NOOOOOO, I READ DAT BOOK, DOH-EE. FOR MASON.
Story: It has pictures, right? I need pictures because I don’t think I can read all those words you’re saying.
Me: Yes. Pictures. But it’s just for you. Don’t go showing all your friends because I’m pretty sure you’re the only one to know this stuff, and much like your privates, this information is also private.
Ryan: Yes. Private.
Mason: Pwivate? It pwivate? What pwivate? Daddy? What pwivate means? Daddy? Daddy? DADDY?
Story: As long as it has pictures. What if my friend comes over and finds the book and then I have to talk about it?
[Story is a child of hypotheticals, she enjoys dreaming up insane possibilities and then figuring out how to handle them.]
Me: Put the book away, then. Don’t leave it out.
Me: Can we just go to sleep? When you get the book we can talk about it more, ok?
Story: Ok. If I have more questions you’ll answer them?
Ryan: Yes. Always. Anything you need to know. Thanks for asking us, kiddo.
Story: You’re welcome.
And with that, we’re off to find a book for her that’ll satisfy her curiosity about the exact way sperm is going to reach the egg to maybe make babies with some imaginary future boy she’ll fall into some-other-kind-of love with when currently the idea of kissing someone totally grosses her out and she can’t even fathom holding hands with any of the gross boys she knows other than her brother who she also still thinks she should marry and have babies with because why not?
Meanwhile, I’m fairly sure I didn’t even know what a penis looked like till I was of voting age and I’m still in shock over having that conversation.