My 4-year old daughter is obsessed with babies. She talks about babies all day long. She plays with baby dolls, stalks babies at the playground and has already named all FIVE of the babies she plans to have when she grows up. (Molly, Sarah, Laura, Lucy and Peter, by the way.)
I remember my other kids going through phases like this, but they never lasted. Maybe because the older ones all had a live baby to play with. But Baby Girl is and shall remain MY baby, so her obsession with babies lives on.
Recently, her friend (and future husband if she gets her way, but shhh... that's a secret) had a baby born in his family. So she got to watch the expectant mom's belly grow big until the exciting day when she called in labor, about to head to the hospital. My daughter was so excited she could hardly STAND it. She wanted to know what was happening every few minutes. And while I wasn't getting live updates, I told her about her own birth day and the things that happened. And I told her about the amazing, life-changing moment when each of my babies was first laid on my stomach. Those are the most thrilling moments of my life and I will never forget them. If I were younger, I might even consider having more babies, just because that moment is so very powerful it sustains you through the next 18 30 years.
So she added this to her baby play. Sticking the babies under her shirt, laying on the couch, pulling them out and laying them on her belly and murmuring sweet nothings. So adorable I could cry.
But here's the thing.
My daughter will never have that moment.
She can't get pregnant. She can't give birth. She will never lie in a bed in the delivery room. She will never have prenatal appointments. She will never buy maternity clothes.
She's only 4, but we know this already. In fact, we've known it since before she was born.
My daughter has Turner Syndrome, a chromosomal abnormality that causes a host of medical complications, one of which is infertility. She doesn't have ovaries. (Some women with Turner Syndrome can have babies by using donor eggs, but my daughter also has a heart condition which rules that option out for her.) When she was first born, we had so many bigger fish to fry, that infertility was something I put on the way back burner.
I figured that knowing your whole life that you cannot conceive is better than learning in your 30s and spending thousands of dollars in the process, right? While that may be true, I know it will still be a hard reality, no matter how early she learns about it.
Whenever we have talked about babies growing in tummies, we also add that babies come in other ways too. Like on airplanes, as several of our neighbors' adopted chidren have. And about a year ago, I started to add, "Your babies will probably come on an airplane." (Oversimplifying a complex process, I know. But she's only 4.)
But now, she wants babies from her tummy. Five of them. She practices delivery every day, pulling a baby doll or two out from under her shirt. I have to look away. I want to tell her, "No. That's NOT how it's going to happen. You CAN'T HAVE babies in your tummy. Your babies will come to you in a different way."
But I stop myself. I need to say these words for me. Not her. She will learn the hard truth eventually. And gradually, I hope. I can never give her that moment in the delivery room where the doctor lays a baby on her belly. I would do anything if I could, but I can't.
But, I just can't take that moment away from her yet. I will let her have her delivery room moments on the couch with her baby dolls. Her journey to motherhood will be hard and complicated. For now, I'm going to let her be blissfully ignorant, and keep the hard stuff to myself.