Thursday, March 31, 2016

Outside of Marriage

We have a young single adult in our ward that belongs to a family we know and love. She is pregnant and unmarried. This is knowledge that we have not willingly provided to the children, nor made extra effort to keep the information from them. One day, our 10-year-old son asked:

K: Mom, Ann (name changed) is pregnant?
M: Yes, she is.
K: How can Ann be pregnant when she's not married?
M: That is an excellent question. Let's go in my room to talk about it. You know how a baby is created.
K: Well, yeah!
M: You know it takes a man and a women to create a baby.
K: Of course!
M: Do you remember when we talked about how sex feels good and it's an important part of a relationship?
K: Yes. I remember that a little bit.
M: Well, because sex feels good, sometimes it's hard for people to wait until getting married to have sex. They make a choice to do it when they feel like they want to, rather than waiting for marriage.
K: But mom, what will happen now?
M: What do you think will happen?
K: Who will be the baby's dad?
M: I don't know. I think Ann is going to be raising this baby on her own.
K: That's sad!
M: Well, that's the consequence of the choice she made. It's going to be hard, but she will figure things out.
K: I'm glad I have you and dad.
M: Me too. I'm glad dad and I were able to make choices that gave us you children after we were married.
K: I'm glad to have a mom and a dad.
M: I'm glad I waited until your dad and I were married too because we have been able to make our marriage stronger through expressing our love to each other in that special way. It's more than just for making babies and having those babies in a family. It's for making a strong marriage.
K: I remember that.
M: Do you think that Ann's mom and dad love her less now that she's pregnant and not married?
K: Well, no. They probably still love her a lot.
M: Do you think that they will love her no matter what choices she makes?
K: Yes.
M: Me too. Do you know that no matter what choices you make in life, I will still love you....and dad?
K: Yes.
M: Of course, we are supposed to teach you as best we can what is right, but you have the responsibility to make your own choices. But, we will love you no matter what choices you make.
K: I'm glad. I love you.
M: I love you too.

I didn't realize that the end of this conversation would be a testimony of the centrality of our love for him (and all our children), that our love isn't based on what choices he makes. I felt guided near the end of the conversation. I wasn't really prepared for this question, but the course of the conversation was definitely guided by heaven. Every conversation I have like this with these beautiful spirits Heavenly Father sent to our home also reminds of what He must feel for me. My testimony is nurtured as much as my children's testimonies are nurtured.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Birthing A Baby

Apparently, our oldest didn't realize a few things related to the birth of a baby. He seemed to know the information (at least I thought he did), but it just didn't "click." After his recent interest in puberty and body changes, we found a book for him to refer to when he had questions. He knows he can talk to us, but he also has another resource that explains things in a different way. He's also had an increased appetite for knowledge about the creation of a child. I am so thankful for books and the opportunity to keep an open communication because I didn't realize he had a gap in his knowledge. He was voraciously reading the books he chose about puberty and birth. They came with a few more detailed pictures, like the drawn pictures of a woman in childbirth where the baby is starting the birth process (totally appropriate picture). The pictures are what finally helped some of his information "click."

K: How does a baby come out of that little hole??? It's just so tiny!
Me: Well, yes it is. Where did you think the baby was born?
K: Well, maybe out of the belly button or something.
Me: (Thinking - really!?!?!?!?!?! I can ask him where the baby is born and he says the birth canal or vagina. How did he not understand the place I was referring to was NOT the belly button. He knows the purpose of the belly button, too. Or rather, that the belly button is where the umbilical cord takes food to the baby. Seriously!?!?!?!?!?). Do you remember that the uterus is like a balloon?
K: Well, yeah.
Me: There's only one way for sperm to go in to get a baby started. There's only one way for the baby to be born. That's the vagina, between a woman's legs.
K: I know that, but I didn't realize the baby came out of such a tiny hole. Does it hurt?
Me: Yes. It can squeeze a bit. Then, I have you!
K: That's just amazing.
Me: Yes, it is. Heavenly Father created some amazing bodies for us, didn't he?
K: Yeah.

This was a moment where I realized just how important constant dialogue about birth, babies, and puberty is for my children. He could recite the information to me, but somehow there was something not connecting correctly. I was grateful for those books that could help clear up a misunderstanding!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Sperm and Egg Discussion

A couple months ago our 7-year-old daughter was talking about life cycles at school. I started getting the feeling that this was going to be a good time to start giving her more information about how babies are created. My husband and I sat her down on a Sunday afternoon and talked with her about the sperm and egg piece of creating a baby. We reviewed what she knew about pregnancy and childbirth.

A couple weeks ago, she asked her dad, "how do the sperm and egg even meet?" I was not home and my husband didn't want to answer that one alone (plus, it was bedtime and things were rushed).

When I had a chance to talk with our daughter, my husband was not home. I was disappointed he couldn't be there, but there was a good moment where I felt like she needed her question answered.

Me: You asked daddy how the sperm and egg meet.
A: Yes. How do they even get together? I don't understand.
Me: Well, first, can you remind me what you know about how a baby grows?
A: What do you mean?
Me: Where does the baby grow?
A: I don't remember.
Me: The baby grows in the uterus.
A: I actually know that. I just don't feel comfortable saying that word.
Me: Really? (surprise! Uterus is not usually a word that feels uncomfortable yet). Why do you feel uncomfortable?
A: It's a special place. I just don't want to say that word much.
Me: Oh. It's a part of your body just like your nose, eyes, elbow, kidneys, stomach, or bladder. It has a special purpose, carrying a baby. But, your eyes are for seeing. Your nose is for smelling. Every part of your body does something special that helps you grow or just live happily.
A: Okay. Yes. That's true.
Me: So, what do you remember about this cord right here? (I had the book, "Sex & Babies First Facts" by Jane Annunsiata and Denise Ortakales)
A: I can't remember the name, but I know it takes food to the baby from the mom.
Me: Yes, it's the umbilical cord. It changes the food from the mom to make it right for the baby.
A: Yeah. Mom, this doesn't answer my question.
Me: I know. I'm going back over this information with you because it all works together to make a baby. I want to make sure you understand all the parts before I give you more to think about.
A: Oh. Okay. What's this? (pointing to the placenta).
Me: That's the placenta. That's where the mom and baby connect.
A: What do you mean?
Me: Well, you see how the umbilical cord goes into the baby's belly button?
A: Yeah. I remember that.
Me: Well, there needs to be a part connected to the mom, like there's a part connected to the baby, so the baby can get the food.
A: That makes sense.
Me: That part is called the placenta and it's connected to the mom on the side of the uterus.
A: Okay.
Me: Do you remember how the baby is born?
A: Yeah. It comes out a tunnel, but I can't remember the name.
Me: The vagina, or birth canal. Do you remember how the uterus is like a balloon?
A: You never told me that!
Me: (Really????? Did I forget this with her? I must have). Well, you know how a balloon can stretch and grow? Also, there's an opening for blowing in the air?
A: Yeah. The baby comes out the hole and it stretches for the baby to come out?
Me: Exactly. The uterus is a muscle and can grow bigger like a balloon. As the baby grows, the uterus gets bigger. When it's time to be born, the baby squeezes out this little hole that stretches.
A: And it hurts.
Me: Well, it definitely squeezes a bit and hurts. Then, I get to hold a magnificent baby in my arms and look in their sweet eyes for the first time! (She giggled. She loves that part!) Now, you asked about the sperm and egg. Do you remember who has the sperm and who has the egg?
A: Ummmmmm, no.
Me: Mommy has the egg. Dad has the sperm. (I showed her another picture in the book). See, the egg is here in mommy's body. It looks like a little ball. It goes through these tubes into mommy's uterus.
A: Oh. What are these called?
Me: Fallopian tubes.
A: Okay. What about daddy?
Me: Well, the sperm come out of daddy's penis. Have you heard of sex?
A: No.
Me: Sex is when a daddy puts his penis in the mommy's vagina, the opening of the uterus. When the sperm comes out, they swim up and meet the egg. (I found the pictures in this book wonderfully helpful). See the sperm look like little tadpoles here, and they swim up to the little dot, the egg.
A: Oh! I see.
Me: How do you feel? Any questions?
A: No. That is awesome! (She was shaking with excitement) Mom, for my family home evening, I want to talk about families! I didn't realize how important they are, but now I know they are so so so important!

I don't think she meant she didn't think families were important at all. She has always seen families as important. I felt like her testimony had visibly grown about the plan of salvation and the part families play in that plan. She wasn't sure what words to use to express the growth of her testimony. This was the best she could come up with to let me know that her heart and spirit had a new understanding of the role of sex and babies. And, that this was a good thing for families!

I looked into her eyes at the end of our discussion and could see the light in them. I wish I could take a picture and capture that moment, but it still wouldn't be the same. I wanted to go further and tell her about sex also being great for a husband and wife's relationship, but I knew she was at the threshold of her capacity for new information. I didn't want to give her too much. I didn't review much of the information and have her tell me what she remembered. I plan on asking her about it and talking with her (with her dad there) in a week or so. She makes these discussions so pleasant that I actually look forward to the next discussion. The spirit is present and it just feels fantastic to have these conversations with her, or any of our children. It helps my testimony grow every time I see my children's growth.