Making Babies and President Lincoln

Making Babies and President Lincoln

Yesterday morning, as I was driving Annie Rose to preschool, we had the following chat:

AR: “I miss my Safta.”

Me: “Who?”

AR: “My Safta.  That is Hebrew for Grandma.  Why does Yaya live in a different part of America than we do?”

Me: “Well, Yaya’s home is in Florida, and ours is in Illinois.  I used to live in Florida, too, but then I came to Chicago for school.  And it’s a good thing, too, because otherwise I wouldn’t have met Daddy, and you wouldn’t exist.”

AR: “Why wouldn’t I exist?”

Me: “Because if Daddy and I hadn’t met, we wouldn’t have made you.”

Oh shit.  Mayday!  Mayday!  I just walked into that one with eyes wide shut.  Please don’t ask.  Please don’t ask.

AR: “WHAT?  You MADE me?  HOW?”

Oh God, I haven’t even had a cup of coffee.  Every word counts. Think. Get out of this conversation NOW. 

Me: “Well, a seed from the Daddy meets with an egg from the Mommy and it grows into a baby, the same way that a plant grows from a seed.”

Please be like Katie and cheerfully say okay and move on.

AR: But HOW does the seed meet the egg?  Does the Daddy put the Mommy to sleep and then put the seed in her stomach, like surgery?”

Hmmm.  Technically, she has given me an out.  Some fertility treatments are pretty similar to this.  I could say yes, invoking the in-vitro clause of the sex talk.  No, better do this right.

Me: “Well, Annie Rose, it’s complicated.  And we are almost at school.  How about if I get a book that explains the whole thing, and we can read it together tonight at bedtime?”

AR is considering this. 

AR: “I’d rather read some more of that Jack and Annie book about Abraham Lincoln.  Does it have a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation in it?”

YES!  Saved by our sixteenth president!  Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation.  Never answer more than a child asks for, and if she is willing to let it go, so am I.  Besides, Katie hasn’t asked me yet about this stuff, and she is eight.  If I tell A. Ro, then I am going to have to tell Katie. 

Me: “Um, sure.  I love that book!  Wouldn’t it be neat if we could travel back in time and meet the Lincolns?”

Another day, another drive to preschool.

Of course, later that night, as I lay not sleeping in my bed, my endlessly racing mind returned to the conversation with Annie Rose.  But this time, my thoughts drifted to Katie.  If Andrew and I had not met each other, Katie would still exist.

But who would her parents be?  Would she still be living in foster care, bounced from home to home, a shadow of herself?  Would she have been adopted by another couple?  What if, like my guest post adoptee who wrote yesterday’s column, she had been adopted by parents who didn’t lavish her with love?

Katie would have existed independently of me.  A strange thought about one’s own daughter.  As I pondered all the mysterious occurrences that brought her to us, I was certain of one thing — Katie is where she belongs.


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  • What a unique post, Carrie - and yes, Katie is where she belongs. My son Lenny now knows how he came out of his birth mom, T's tummy but he has not asked (thus far, thankfully) how babies are made. His only question to me: "Did T take off her underwear before I came out?" When I suppressed a smile and said yes, he said, "I want to thank her for making it easy for me to come out."

    I have thanked T in my heart and in letters for a lot of things....that one I didn't think of! :)

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