Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mama, When Was I In Your Belly?

One of my favorite "Mama stories" is from when Janan was 2 1/2 - almost 3 - and we had just left the joint baby shower of two sisters.  One sister had just had her baby weeks before and the second was, literally, due any day.  

We spent a few hours doing the normal baby shower things - cooing at the newborn, touching the expectant Mama's belly, eating cake and watching the opening of baby gift after baby gift.  Of course, Janan enjoyed her own abundance of attention and loved EVERY minute of it.

So, I should have known something was up when my normally talkative, highly verbal 2 1/2-year-old was completely silent as we left the shower, while being strapped into her car seat and during the first 5 minutes of our drive home.

Finally, from the silence I heard, "Mama, when was I in your belly?"  

Having adopted my daughter and always telling her the story of her adoption my response came easily, "Honey, remember, you weren't in Mama's belly you were in Mama Santos's belly.  That's what it means to be adopted."  Thinking to distract her from the "how", I also added, "And, babies aren't in their Mama's bellies, they are in a special place called the womb."

(I got a bit cocky here thinking I had dodged a proverbial bullet and actually smiled to myself as I continued to drive.)

After just a few more seconds of silence, my beautiful daughter responded with, "So, how did I get in Mama Santos' WOMB?"

Now it got sticky.  I couldn't fall back on the "When two people are married and love each other..." because her birth parents were NOT married (a fact she knew) and I didn't know whether they loved each other or not.  So, after a very deep breath to slow my heart rate I said, "Well, a man plants a seed inside a woman and the baby grows there."

Without missing a beat she says, "That doesn't make ANY sense, because if he used a shovel that would HURT the Mama!"

I almost had to pull off to the side of the road.  What was going through my head was "You're right, but I'M NOT SUPPOSED TO HAVE TO HAVE THIS CONVERSATION UNTIL YOUR OLDER!  I'M NOT READY YET!"

So, I told her she was absolutely right.  That the actual process was hard to explain and that was really a conversation for when she was older.  She was fine with that, but just wanted to know how MUCH older.  I wanted to say 35, but I went with "when your around 5 or 6".  (Why I picked that age is beyond me, but I was DRIVING, trying to focus on the road through my tears of yet another Mama moment coming years before it's expected time and for which I was horribly unprepared.)

Now, your question is, "What does this have to do with gifted reading?"  Well, I'll explain.

Just a year later (so she's now almost 4), we were at our local library (our favorite hang out) and Janan's favorite librarian was helping her find some books she wanted.  Janan had really gotten into Bill Nye the Science Guy and condensation, so they were in the science section.  Wanting to grab a book for myself, the librarian told me to go ahead and that she would help Janan find her books.  Happily, I trotted off to the fiction section for my book and returned just a few minutes later to see the librarian with a VERY strange look on her face and Janan sitting on the floor in front of the science section, nose-down in a book with large color photographs of in utero babies.

Turns out "condensation" isn't too far from "conception" and Janan had found a book called "A Child is Born" by Linnart Nilsson.  The poor librarian was worried I'd be upset!  I reassured her it was fine and actually smiled and said, "I knew this was coming."  

I have to admit this beautiful book has the most amazing pictures of fetal development I had ever seen, so I sat down next to Janan and said, "Wow!  What did you find?"  She looked up at me with amazement on her face and said, "Look, Mama!  These are babies in their Mama's wombs!"  We checked out "A Child is Born" and a few books on condensation (which never did get opened, I don't think) and headed home.  The entire ride home Janan sat in awe turning page after page commenting on how at first the baby looked more like a tadpole than a baby, but then you could see their eyes, fingers and even hair!"

This book became her favorite.  She scoured over it day and night.  She took it with her everywhere we went and checked it out the maximum number of times our library would allow.  Thankfully, there was a wonderful, local, used book store at which I found a copy Janan could call her own. 

Interestingly (and much to my relief), the photographs seemed to take away the "how did the baby get there" question and replaced it with an almost medical fascination of how the baby develops over the nine months, how it can "breathe" inside there, and how it is born.  We spent hours looking at the pictures every time she "discovered" something new.

The first chapter of the book does explain fertilization, but the photos of the babies intrigued her much more (whew!).  

So, if your LGR asks that ever looming question of "Where DO babies come from?" I HIGHLY recommend this book.  The photographs create wonderful conversation about the entire birth process and can keep the gifted mind enthralled for weeks!

Of course, the question of "How does the baby get in there?" didn't go away for long...but, I'll leave that story for another blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment