How to Explain Infertility to a 10 Year Old


Yesterday I had the pleasure of getting my hair done by my best friend, Elyse. She’s super talented and we’ve known each other since we were 12. Bad ache, bad hair, good friends. 

She has two wonderful kids, Elizabeth, 10 and Elijah, 3. 

And like any kids, they ask questions. Lots of questions. Especially Elizabeth. She is very inquisitive, quick-witted, and smart as a whip. 

In many concerns that Elyse and I have, she confides in me about how to respond to questions that Elizabeth (Liz) might have. Recently in school, she’s in the 4th grade, they started teaching them about the reproductive system. I chucked  because Elyse nor Marcus (her fantastic hubby) were ready. And what Ive learned is that it’s not as much about what they learn in school it really comes down to the questions that they ask afterwards. For example, Liz learned about how babies are made from the technical standpoint and then had follow-up questions for Elyse about what is sperm. I can’t imagine having to answer that question and frame it for a 10 year old. 

Well, lucky me, I came close. 

While getting my hair done, I was sharing with Elyse that I had to have a myomectomy , which is having a fibroid removed from my uterus. As I was getting ready to go into more detail, Liz whiz in and says, “Auntie Mimi, why do you need to have surgery?” 

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! How do I answer this for a 10 year old I thought? It’s already a challenge to answer this for my adult family let alone a tiny human.

I looked to Elyse for guidance, just a glance that it was okay to proceed and took a big breathe and went for it. 

For just a second, I echoed back to conversations that Elyse and I had about how she goes about explaining things to Elizabeth. First rule, don’t lie. Tell the truth. You want them to be aimed with the correct information. Second rule, use proper terms, so that they aren’t calling body parts by weird names, ( I once had a coworker who’s 7 year old grand daughter called her vagina her front butt. In her mind, she had a front butt and a back butt) Imagine how embossing that will be for her later when she is calling stuff by it’s wrong name!

Third rule, is give the basics but not too much information. Just enough for them to understand but hopefully not too many follow-up questions. 

That’s a lot to wrap your head around in with only 2.5 seconds of processing time. Somewhat confidently, I started to explain. 

“Well, Liz I heard that you just learned about how babies are made. The reason I am having the surgery is so that Uncle Aaron and I can have a baby. “ I could tell by the look on her face that a follow-up question was coming.  “Auntie Mimi, what’s wrong?, she asked with inquisitive but concerned tone.” 

My mind was racing for a good analogy or explantation. 

Ahhh, I thought. I got it. 

I proceeded to start to pose my hands, and create an upside down triangle like a delta sign. 

“Liz, see the mini triangle in the middle of my hands?” If you imagine a women’s reproductive parts that would be considered the uterus. The uterus is where a baby is held and it grows. You know your Auntie Bean’s belly ( Elyse’s youngest sister is pregnant, so it helps with the visualization) well her baby is growing inside the uterus. It protects the baby while it grows. Well, the inside of my uterus is fine but there is something called a fibroid on the outside. A fibroid is a thing that is made up of a bunch of muscles and it can reek havoc on a women’s uterus. Sometimes they stop you from having a baby. So I am having surgery to remove it. 

Sweat was creeping down my back and I kinda held my breathe waiting for her response. And he looked at me and simply said, Okay Auntie Mimi. Mommy and I will come to visit you. And that was it.

Phew, I dodged that freight train. 

But this experience reminds me that even a 10 year old wants to route for you. Understand. Put things in perspective. 

And if I can explain something to a ten year old. I got this!  What would you say if you were in my shoes?