V is almost 6 years old, and (supposed to be—sigh!) heading to kindergarten next month. She’s suddenly this little lady. She’s an original thinker, just like her dad, contemplative and creative, and aware of life outside her realm.
She also has an excellent memory and is sick and tired of hearing about her conception story, so I started working on presenting her the information in a visual way. It’s a new project that I’m adapting for all families called My Conception Story™—or a photo journal storybook for non-traditional families. (I’ll write a separate post soon, because I am super excited to share this project with you!) My prototype copy arrived yesterday she pounced on it. It’s filled with photos of our family and our donor. As we flipped through its pages, the subject of eye colour came up.
“You have green eyes, like [Nellie], because her body only tells stories about green eyes and blue eyes, and that means her oocyte eggs can only share stories about green or blue eyes. So that’s how we knew you and brother and sister would either have either green or blue eyes, not brown.”
“Not brown eyes like you?”
“No baby. Because you didn’t come from my oocyte eggs. You came from [Nellie’s] oocyte eggs, which only have green/blue-eyed stories, and Daddy’s sperm, which only has a blue-eyed story. So there weren’t any brown-eyed stories to share.”
At this V looks thoughtful and mentions my parents.
“But Grandma Penny and Grandpa Ben have brown eyes…”
“Right! So they had lots of brown-eyed stories to share, which is why I have brown eyes.”
“But Uncle Theo has blue eyes.”
Inwardly I sighed. This was getting more complicated than I wanted it to, and I began thinking of a way to explain oversimplified genetics to a kid.
“Yes, he does. And that’s because people with brown eyes can share stories about brown or blue or green eyes; but people with blue eyes can only share stories about blue eyes.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Well, this is complicated stuff—even grown-ups have a hard time understanding it. I tell you what, let’s get some Play-Doh and I can show you what I mean.”
I pulled out three colours of Play-Doh: red for Daddy, dried out green for me, and a homemade glittery pink one scented with geranium for our egg donor.
I showed her how when Daddy Red and Mummy Dried-Out Green mix, they didn’t make a nice smooth ball of Play-Doh.
“See how Mama is dried-out green? She’s still Play-Doh Mama, but it means Mama’s oocytes are also dried-out. And that means she doesn’t make smooth Play-Doh that you can make into a Play-Doh Heart Baby.”
“Because, Mama, your ooctye eggs make a squashed baby!”
“Exactly!!” (I was so excited that she got that!) “But to be your mama, we needed [Nellie’s] help, so we could make you, and brother and sister, with her oocyte eggs. Here she is—a beautiful glittery yummy smelling pink!”
Then I showed her how when you mix the glittery pink Play-Doh with the red Play-Doh you get a mixture of the two doughs. And that the glitter that came from the egg donor Play-Doh got shared with the Daddy Play-Doh.
“So you see how the two balls of Play-Doh got mixed up together and shared the colours and glitter and smells? Well, those are like Play-Doh stories. And that’s kind of what happens when eggs and sperms meet—they share all sorts of stories and they become one NEW thing: You, and brother, and sister!
“Yeah! Mom, can we make them into little hearts? And can this bigger more pinker heart be me?”
She got it! At least… she got that her eyes are green because our donor’s are green. But, yeah, she got that much.
And this is a milestone in our conception story, because I’ve officially started filling in the gaps.
With Play-Doh :)