“Most young children develop an obsession at some point. My friend’s son loves vacuum cleaners. Some kids wait patiently for the garbage truck or mail carrier every day. Others identify with a favorite animal, sport, collectible item, or artistic endeavor.
My four-year-old daughter, Kaeleigh, watches birth videos on YouTube.
This all started a few months ago when I began preparing her for the birth of her little brother. We are planning a homebirth, although we are open to transferring to a hospital if complications arise. Either way, Kaeleigh will probably witness this event, and I want her to be prepared.
Giving birth is one of life’s greatest teaching moments. When I gave birth to Kaeleigh on June 28, 2014, I, myself, learned so much.
I prefer answering children’s questions as they arise and as life experience allows, rather than suddenly dumping all of this mysterious, potentially embarrassing information on them later. It’s just a more natural way to learn about the world.
When I offered to show my daughter a few birth videos, I thought this would be sufficient enough to answer her questions. Turns out I was wrong.
I carefully chose a few videos that didn’t seem ‘scary’, avoiding any in which the mother is howling or writhing in pain. I wanted to present this information as gently, but also truthfully, as possible. After we watched three or four videos, we discussed the correct names of body parts. I pointed out how babies are sometimes a little bit blue at first, but soon turn pink and start crying. She learned the placenta will come along a few minutes later, then the cord will be cut, and it’s not painful for Mom. Then I asked Kaeleigh if she had any questions.
‘Yeah. Can we watch another one?’
Just one more, I thought. So we watched one more… and then another… and then another. I really needed to get some housework done, but Kaeleigh was fascinated by this new information. I didn’t want to discourage an interest, even if it was a little unconventional. We watched birth videos all night.
In the following weeks, we ventured farther into the realm of YouTube homebirth videos. She explored twin births, outdoor births, water births, births with midwives, and unassisted births. And then…
‘Oh no, Mommy. The feet are coming out first. That’s not right!’ That was my opportunity to explain breach birth. When we watch birth videos now, she will occasionally squeal, ‘OH, this one is breach!’
She’s also learned about shoulder dystocia and helping the baby to turn so their shoulders can fit through the mother’s pelvis. She knows we never pull on the baby’s head, but gently guide him or her out.
This has become a regular hobby for Kaeleigh, and she requests birth videos almost daily.
And she’s now sharing information with her friends. Recently, a little boy told her, ‘A doctor cut me out of my mother’s tummy.’ Frustrated, she told him he was wrong. In the midst of her explanation about vaginas and how babies are born, I had to correct her and teach them both about C-sections.
The other day, Kaeleigh overheard a conversation about the severe restriction on midwives in our state. Because of that, I face the choice of giving birth unassisted, or enduring a lot of unwanted interventions in a hospital an hour away from home. Thoughtfully, she offered her professional services.
‘Mommy? If you don’t have a midwife… I can help you with the birth.’
I’ll be handling most of it myself, but it’s good to know I have ‘backup.’ Hopefully her fees are affordable!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Emily de Cleyre of North Carolina. You can follow her journey on her blog here. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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