Oliver is at that incredible age where he wants to know everything. EVERYTHING! “Mommy, where does water come from?” “Daddy, what does ‘ummmm’ mean?” “Mommy, where do almonds come from?” “Mommy, do you have a big belly?”
Now, before you assume that Oliver is one cognitive leap away from, “your mama’s so fat” jokes, rest assured, he’s not commenting on the shape of my body. He is not judging my jean size or my belly size. A few weeks ago after tumbling class, we bumped into one of the little girls and her mother that were in the class at the splash pad. The mother was very, very pregnant (I say “was” because there’s no way in the world that baby is still inside her now…congratulations!) and Oliver went up to her and pointed and asked, “she has a big belly?” We answered honestly, letting him know that there was a baby in there. Of course, he wanted to see it and we had to explain to him that the baby was in her body and we couldn’t see the baby until it was born.
“Mommy, am I born?”
“Yes, baby, you are born. You have been born for 2 1/2 years.”
“Mommy, I’m not born yet?”
“Yes, you are born. You are not in my belly anymore. You came out of my belly a long time ago.”
“Mommy, I’m not tiny?”
“No, you’re a big boy now.”
“Mommy, I am born?”
And the conversation goes on repeat for a while. There’s something poetic about the way he asks these questions. Something innocent and pure. I love talking to him about it even though I know his little brain can’t comprehend how this all happens, how he got on this earth and how I grew him in my body and now he is out. But I try.
This morning, I was talking to him about our neighbor who is pregnant with her second child. Her son is one of Oliver’s best friends. Oliver is sick right now and can’t be around other children for a few days. He wanted to see his friend but I explained that we couldn’t get his friend sick or his mother sick because there is a baby in her belly. He lifted up my shirt, put his little finger in my belly button and asked, “Mommy, do you have a big belly?” He was asking if there was a baby in there.
“No. No, sweetheart. There’s no baby in there.” My voice was soft. I brushed his hair back with my hand. Kissed his head. “You don’t have a baby in your belly.” “No.” He left it at that, moving on to the next most interesting subject, granola.
There is going to come a time soon when he looks at a lot of his friends and he realizes that they have brothers and sisters. Not all of his friends will, of course, but many of them will and do. There’s going to be a day when he comes up to me and says, “Mommy, I want a sister.” Or, “Mommy, can you have another baby?” And I will have to explain to him why the answer is no.
I will have to explain that cancer took away our choice to grow our family and despite there being other ways to do just that, finances don’t really allow it. I will have to explain cancer. I will never tell him that one reason we will not grow our family is because the risk of trying could equate to suicide. I don’t want to get cancer again because I chose to stop medications or tempt fate with more estrogen pumping through my body.
I hope he will understand. Sometimes children want what they want and they can’t see past reason. I think it will break my heart if he is disappointed by not having a sibling.
I don’t claim to be in a unique situation. There are thousands, no, millions of people who can not grow their families for a variety of reasons that are beyond their control. Infertility, cancer or drug induced infertility, finances, career, space, etc… I am not special in that way.
But this does not take away from the fact that there is going to be a conversation that will happen sooner rather than later as to why other women can have babies in their belly and I can not. I will find a way to explain it to him. I always do. I just didn’t expect the questions to start so soon.