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Seven layers

Joel will be five next month, and he is experiencing pregnancy as a close observer for the first time.

He was just shy of three when Beatrix was born. During my pregnancy with her, he kissed and patted my belly when prompted. He dutifully said hi to the baby and liked to lift my shirt to stare in awe at my bellybutton. He didn’t fully understand there was an actual baby in there.

This time around, it is completely different. It’s revolutionary. Joel, far more than the other kids, has questions about the physical process. It’s a stark contrast to our daughter, Aidan, who at eleven is excited but also a little embarrassed about the whole thing. He hasn’t asked how the baby got in there, yet. He is focused right now on how the baby eats, if he is sleeping at the moment, and how he’ll get out.

Six children and eleven pregnancies haven’t done anything to diminish how goofy and adolescent I feel when a kid asks a below-the-belt sort of question.

That’s why I was thanking God for the emergency c-section I had with Beatrix. Not only did it literally save her life (cord prolapse) but it came in handy the day Joel first brought up the new baby’s exit strategy.

“I will go to the hospital and the doctor will make a cut in my tummy and lift the baby out.” I answered, glad to not have to explain uterine contractions expelling his brother out of my, you know, bagina.

He was satisfied with that answer, comparing it to his recent thumb-trauma which featured gushing blood and seven stitches. He said he didn’t feel it because he got shots. I told him I wouldn’t feel it either because I would get a special shot. Sympatico!

This morning, we dropped the kids off school. The car was quiet as we three homebodies drove away. Joel was wearing a cowboy hat, which forced him to look sideways. He said something I didn’t quite hear, but the word’s “baby” and “dead” were mentioned. I turned down the music and told Joel to look forward and repeat what he just said.

“I said when the doctor cuts your tummy to get the baby out, wouldn’t that make you dead?”

Makes sense. Big slash in tummy would normally be a sign of a medical and surgical emergency. Why hadn’t I thought of that when I explained this method of delivery? From an almost-five-year-old’s worldview, a c-section is ludicrous and dangerous. It’s scary. I was so caught up in being grateful for the chance to suppress a blush that I didn’t consider the alternative isn’t exactly pleasant.

I assured him that it is very quick and I wouldn’t feel anything. The doctor would sew me fast and my body will heal. No worries, buddy.

It kills me that he may have been rolling this around in his mind for a few days, wondering about the big cut and his mama, dead. I’ve always advocated for honesty with children, but I wish I had used a little more discretion in explaining how his baby brother would be born.

The whole incident makes me question why it is easier for me to talk about seven layers of my body being parted with a knife than giving birth vaginally. Probably because, if I am honest with myself and everyone else, I want to have a c-section this time. Certain circles expect me to express a strong desire to try for a VBAC. I am supposed to be sad, scared, or depressed that doctors want me to avoid labor this time.

But I’m not. I feel completely at peace with this decision.

My big regret is treating it so casually with my youngest son.

I won’t feel all seven of those layers being cut, but I will feel them heal. That’s often the case when we dive in headlong, without thinking.

13 comments to Seven layers

  • edj

    I LOVE that last paragraph. So true, and I love how you express it!

    edj’s last blog post..Update: Jr Hi Edition

  • Oh, you know that Joel is just too too precious. And like you said, it’s most important that YOU are at peace with your decision- no matter what anyone else thinks you should feel.


    Adventures In Babywearing’s last blog post..Got Another 5 Minutes?

  • Poor little guy. Things that are so obvious to us just aren’t to them.

  • I think it’s wonderful that when your son DID have a concern about the birth, that he felt the two of you could talk about it. Hopefully when things trouble him in the future, this wonderful communication will continue!

    Brenda’s last blog post..Finding my personal power

  • Aw, poor little man.
    I had a c-section with my firstborn, and when my kids where asking about it, they were VERY concerned that it must have hurt dreadfully. Poor wee mites….

    Beck’s last blog post..Oh dear.

  • So glad you got it cleared up with him! It is amazing where their brains can go when encountering new information…

    Love your last paragraph–that, my friend, is perfect prose. Gorgeous.


    Octamom’s last blog post..Mommy Math

  • Oh, that Joel is a sweetie. And a thinker.

    Heth’s last blog post..Poor Little Tricycle

  • JoAnn

    I can’t believe he’s going to be 5 next month. I remember the day you said you were pg. I believe it was the spit on the stick chatting days. HA HA!

    Poor Joel, one has to wonder what he thought.

    And it does only matter to you, I wouldn’t worry about anyone else.

    Been missing you at the board!


  • Please don’t worry! Joel’s developmental understanging that caused him to swallow your initial explanation so matter of factly, will also allow him to take him for exactly your word that you will be fine. I’m sure that’s all the reassurance he needed! Don’t beat yourself up. 😉 I’m sure he’s not.

    Just for reference… once when Nick was hospitalized at the age of 18 months (nothing terribly serious), Dylan came to visit. As Dad prepared to take him home for the night, Dylan made sure to say his good-byes very carefully. I noticed that he seemed nervous about something (he was 5 and a half yrs old)… I asked what was wrong and he just said that he was trying to be brave when he said his good-byes to his baby brother. He really thought he’d never see him again, and he was trying to process all of that while we were so casual about it. 🙁 He assumed that since we had taken Nick to the hospital, and he saw those scary I.V.’s, that this was something that automatically meant that was a sign of impending death or something. We cleared everything up quickly – he was relieved, and the rest is history. We laugh about it now, but it wasn’t so funny then. ((hugs))

    I’m sure Joel was perfectly content with the reassurance you gave. 🙂

    Jenn’s last blog post..Belated update… 6 months in our arms

  • Two years ago, when my sister was very pregnant with her first child, my then five-year-old daughter asked me how baby Silas would get out of Emmie’s tummy.

    Taken aback, I said, “Well, she’ll probably push him out.”

    Then, hoping to avoid the question of where he would come out, I added, “And sometimes, a doctor makes a cut in a woman’s tummy and lifts the baby out.”

    That sounded so much more civil to me, knowing the painful alternative. But to my daughter, life has never been the same. She STILL asks me, with serious concern in her voice, if she’ll have to have her tummy cut someday if she has babies.


    Kelly @ Love Well’s last blog post..Summer Lovin’ Happened So Fast

  • That is so sweet. Our 4 year old has a lot of questions with this baby. This morning, he told me he thought only girls had belly buttons because that is where babies eat from. We’ve been reading The Story of Me by Stan and Brenna Jones. It is a whole series explaining s*x to kids, age appropriately. It has been pretty helpful through this whole process. And it only makes me blush a little.

    Kristin’s last blog post..5 Hours

  • Oh, that is such a sweet story! I’m glad he got up the nerve to ask you about it! I forgot to prepare my boys for how I would look after having a c/s…when they came in the hospital room, they rushed over to me instead of the baby! My big teenage boys were scared to see me hooked up to tubes, bless their hearts!

    AprilMay’s last blog post..Angela!!

  • Oh my goodness. I hadn’t thought about that one. My daughter was born by C-section, and if I am fortunate enough to have other, we will go that route. My first C-section was elective, though there are many who would judge me for that. It was just the best option for us. And I totally understand why you would choose a C-section over VBAC, for whatever it’s worth.

    midlife mommy’s last blog post..Bad News, Or Are They Just A$$holes?

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