I’m a pretty modest person.
My exposure to doctors and hospitals was nonexistent before my first pregnancy…
My Mom and I never had “the talk”…not even the one about puberty (in her defense, I think I would plug my ears and curl up into the fetal position when she tried)…
And I cannot for the LIFE of me dig up enough maturity to use scientific terms for body parts and bodily functions. Which explains why my husband says he sometimes felt like someone was going to come and arrest him for taking advantage of me when they saw that I was with child and then heard me try to answer medical questions without squirming like a 12-year old and using phrases like “a #2” instead of “a bowel movement”.
By the way, if you could have seen me at the hospital trying to discuss our plan for birth control with a wet-behind-the-ears and adorably awkward medical student, you would have been in stitches. I’m just so glad my husband was asleep at the time with ear-plugs in his ears.
And so having a curious little boy named Gideon in my life has posed a bit of a challenge to me, especially after an extremely awkward encounter we had when he was only two years old. I would tell you the story, but…I can’t. There are no words.
And while I was somehow able to skirt around uncomfortable discussions with him when pregnant with his sisters, I knew that my time was up this go-round. He is six years old. He has lots of questions. He notices everything...
Somehow, though, I lucked out. The “where do babies come from?” discussion didn’t come up at all when I was pregnant, only lots of questions about how the baby was going to “pop out” of me. In fact, several times, he tried to push on my belly to help me along in that process: “Here, let me help you pop that baby out!”
“I’m good, Gid!” I would insist, thanking him for his help as I retreated with my belly to a safer part of the house.
But I knew on our first day home with Baby Shepherd, when Gideon offered to go and make him a bottle, that a discussion on breastfeeding was inevitable; this became even clearer as he kept asking me, over the course of a couple of days, what his baby brother was eating. “Where is his milk?” he would ask, dumbfounded, “Where are the bottles?…”
“Yeah,” said Rebekah, “where’s his food?”
I looked at Mr. Gore. “I’m going to have to tell them,” I said. I knew, with our new family dynamic and our busy homeschooling schedule, that I couldn’t just hide out in my room for a year, nor could I carry Shepherd around under a blanket every 3 hours without them thinking I was a little off-my-rocker.
But, as Betsie would say, I was “skerred”. I had no idea how Gideon was going to react to what I told him. Would he gag? Would he crack up? Would he be mortified and flee from my presence?
I decided to give myself a head-start by talking to Rebekah first. Her calm acceptance of how I look in my birthday suit gave me confidence to know this wouldn’t be a big deal to her.
I was spot-on…
During one of the baby’s feedings, she joined me on my bed; the baby was completely hidden by covers.
“Where’s Shepherd?” she asked.
“Right here,” I said, “he’s eating.” I decided to plunge into it. “Do you want to know what he eats?”
She nodded her head, eyes alight with curiosity. I told her.
She fell over, laughing.
“That’s funny!” she exclaimed, “Can I have a drink?”
(That’s gonna be a negative, Ghost Rider).
So now it was Gideon’s turn.
His Papa had already helped me out by telling him that the baby was getting his nourishment “from Mama”, but that wasn’t enough for Gid the Kid.
He needed more details.
And so yesterday morning, I called to him from my bedroom where I was already feeding Shepherd under a blanket: “Gid, why don’t you come to my room and we’ll read while I feed the baby?”
He happily obliged, bouncing down beside me in his usual rough-and-tumble manner.
“Is he eating right now?” he asked, immediately, confirming my assumption that if I could get him to my room while I was nursing, he would naturally initiate the conversation.
I nodded, and my stomach started clenching up as I anticipated what was ahead.
“How is he eating?…” he asked.
“He just is…” I hedged, trying to find the right words.
But before I could stop him, Gideon peeked under the blanket.
“Oh!” he said, “he just gets his food from there?”
“Yes…” I replied, speechless.
There was a long pause…
and then my favorite goofy, crooked, top-front-toothless grin spread across his face.
“Really?!” he exclaimed, smiling hugely.
“Yes…” I repeated, hesitant. This was the moment I had been bracing myself for…
“Cool.” he said lightly, as if his mom being a walking milk-truck was the most natural and awesome thing in the world.
“…yep.” I replied.
And that was that.
I heaved a giant sigh of relief, and we started reading his book.
Why in the world had I waited SO long to let him in on this great mystery and miracle of life?
That was a cakewalk!…
Not so fast, Mrs. Gore.
We still had one more “talk” ahead.
Later that day, when I was feeding Shepherd yet again, Gideon joined me on my bed, a giant question written all over his face.
“So…where is the milk at?” he asked, obviously confused.
Oh geeze, I thought, here we go again…
It was obvious that I was going to have to GROW UP and be a little less vague.
I couldn’t bring myself to show him the exact source of Shepherd’s nourishment, and so in an impromptu stroke of genius, I lifted up his shirt.
“See those things right there?” I asked, bluntly.
“That’s where it comes from,” I said, boldly and without hesitation.
The question mark on his face was replaced with a lightbulb.
“Ohhhh!” he exclaimed, understanding finally sinking in. “…so those are the lids!”
“The lids?” I asked.
“Yeah, to the milk,” he explained.
“…YES!” I said, thrilled. “The lids!”
You have no idea how happy I was, one, that our conversation about breastfeeding was finally over, two, that Gideon had given me a funny story to tell, and, three, that I now had a great word to use when referring to…you know. Those things.
I had never known what to call them before…