Fact Check

The Middle Wife

Second grader acts out her mother's birthing process in school as a show-and-tell offering.

Published Sep 23, 2007


Claim:   Second grader acts out her mother's birthing process in school as a show-and-tell offering.


Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2002]

Betsy, a grammar-school teacher from Miami, remembers this Oscar-worthy birth tableau from one of her students ... I've been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second-grade classroom a few years back.

Usually, show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that. And I never, ever place any boundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it to school and talk about it, they're welcome.

Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater. She holds up a snapshot of an infant. "This is Luke, my baby brother, and I'm going to tell you about his birthday. First, Mommy and Daddy made him as a symbol of their love, and then Daddy put a seed in my mother's stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for 9 months through an umbrella cord." She's standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I'm trying not to laugh and wishing I had a video camera rolling. The kids are watching her in amazement.

"Then, about two Saturdays ago, my mother starts going, 'Oh, oh, oh!" Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. "She walked around the house for, like an hour, "Oh, oh, oh!" Now this kid is doing this hysterical duck-walk, holding her back and groaning. "My father called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn't have a sign on the car like the Domino's man. They got my mother to lay down in bed like this." Erica lies down with her back against the wall. "And then, pop! My mother had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like

The kid has her legs spread and with her little hands is miming water flowing away. It was too much!

"Then the middle wife starts going push, push, and breathe, breathe. They start counting, but they never even got past 10. Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered in yucky stuff they said was from the play-center, so there must be a lot of stuff inside there."

Then Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat. I'm sure I applauded the loudest. Ever since then, if it's show-and-tell day, I bring my camcorder - just in case another Erica comes along.


Origins:   We originally encountered this story as something passed along in e-mail and as posts to Internet newsgroups beginning August 2002. Over time, the tale has changed very little: other than the child giving the presentation's being dubbed "Anna" instead of "Erica," the rest of the text seems to have remained intact (although a few of the forwards have been prefaced with the added attribution "By an Anonymous 2nd grade


This anecdote appeared in the 2002 collection of delivery stories I'll Never Have Sex with You Again!, where it was titled "Show-and-Tell." It was presented in that book with no additional information given about "Betsy, a grammar-school teacher from Miami" who provided the account as something that happened to her "a few years back," which makes gathering enough information to determine whether the account is real or not difficult.

On the one hand, children do routinely say and do the darndest things; one only has to ask the nearest parent in order to gain an outpouring of "cute kid" tales, all 100% true. On the other, would a second grader, a child of six or seven years, speak of a fetus being fed "through an umbrella cord" (umbilical cord), the "middle wife" (midwife) having been summoned, or the baby coming out "covered in yucky stuff they said was from the play-center" (placenta)? Also, would a child of that age, even one who'd witnessed the entire birth process, not only preface the performance with a discussion about how the baby came to be conceived but also act out the birth procedure in perfect chronological order? We're skeptical.

Barbara "birth of a notion" Mikkelson

Last updated:   14 September 2014


    Bleidner, Larry and Irene Zutell.   I'll Never Have Sex with You Again!

    New York: Fireside, 2002.   ISBN 0-7432-1464-1   (p. 190).

    Lipman, Blythe.   Help! My Baby Came Without Instructions!

    Phoenix: Buse Printing and Packaging, 2004.   ISBN 0-9762576-051495   (p. 120).