You know when a baby grows inside a mom's belly, it grows in her womb? Womb sounds like room doesn't it? Well, the womb is like a room for the baby. (Many giggles trying to say womb and room as she struggles with her R's.)
What is in your room? A bed? Well mommies' bodies are so clever that every month they make a bed in case mommy and daddy make a baby there.
What carries food and life around our bodies? Yes, blood! (We had this discussion before.) So our clever bodies make a special bed out of special blood to feed a baby just in case. But if we don't put the baby there, then the bed gets old, and it has to come out, so then the blood comes out by your vagina, but it isn't bad blood like when you get hurt, it's very special blood. So we use the cup to catch the blood so it doesn't make a mess, isn't that clever? Then next month mommy's body makes a whole new bed in the womb / room and it starts all over again. Isn't that amazing? So when you were a baby in my belly, you had your own room, my womb! And you climbed into the bed my womb made and that's where you grew and grew and grew, getting your food and oxygen from my blood until you were big enough to come out. Aren't you glad there was a bed ready for you?To be honest, she was happy with that, and on that occasion she didn't really want more information about how babies get put there, although we have previously had a discussion about how dad puts a seed in mom's womb, and then the egg and the seed together make a baby, exactly how that happens she hasn't asked, but I think she has an idea. Once you know the anatomy, the mechanics are pretty obvious!
|...and the bees.|
(Who thought of that anyway?)
Speaking of anatomy, we have a lovely big kids' anatomy book with accurate cross section diagrams, so we have studied genitalia along with all the other parts and organs, which has really helped it to be less awkward. In general, I think if we are unfussed and matter of fact, they will be too. Or maybe this is one thing we can learn from them?
Like with menstruation, even now I can tell my girls that when the old bed is coming out it can sometimes be a bit sore, so on those days I take extra special care of myself, and I tell them that one day when they start having a period every month, I'll take extra special care of them on those days too. There are some lovely gift packs you can get to celebrate a girl's menarche or first menstruation - something I'll definitely look at!
I don't want menstruation to be a case of, 'Here are some pads, don't let your brother see,' but rather a celebration of our capacity to bring forth life out of our bodies. Our Western culture seems to see women's bodies as inherently 'unclean': natural birth is and amniotic fluid is 'gross' rather than glorious, breastmilk is a seen as a biohazard with working moms being told they can't rinse their pump parts in the office kitchen sink. But any old cow's milk is fine. Um. No. I recorded this YouTube video on that topic - take a look and let me know your thoughts!
I know women who were told that their vaginas were essentially putrid, seeping wounds, and while the experience of many may not be quite so discouraging, I think it comes close. I'd like my girls to see their vaginas as powerful channels that facilitate both pleasure and procreation. So for example, if a daughter is presenting her gorgeous yoni to the world, where another mother may say, 'Sies! Put that away! No on wants to see that!' I've tried to rather take the line that our yonis are so special and precious that we only show them to people we trust, people who know how special and precious they are - which leads on to a whole discussion on what we can do to protect our children from sexual predators, but we'll leave that for another time.
So with menstruation and intercourse and childbirth and various stages of a woman's life, I have a sneaky (but pretty well founded) suspicion that if we approached the process with less shame, we might experience less pain, and consequently more pleasure. I certainly have found that my struggles with menstruation closely match my prevailing mental state, and my experiences of childbirth have also largely mirrored my confidence in my body's ability to give birth without mishap. As for my girls, ask me in 6 years!
How were you taught, or not taught about menstruation? What helped you the most in coming to terms with your changing body? Share your thoughts below!