A Baby in My Tummy

Mateo walks into the kitchen as I’m unloading the dishwasher wearing his red pajamas with the fire engines on them. He turns to the side so I can see his profile, and from that angle he looks like an extremely short, three-year-old Jackie Gleason: all stomach.

“Look, Mommy,” he says. “I have a baby in my tummy.”

He lifts up his fire engine top and there, tucked inside his undershirt, is his stuffed green sea turtle, Tortuga.

“How nice!” I say. “A little baby for Mateo.”

“Baby grow big.” He opens his eyes wide for emphasis.

In Mateo’s world, babies in tummies are everywhere: The aisles of Safeway, the playground, and the pediatrician’s waiting room are filled with babies in tummies. The Lion class teacher and the assistant principal at his preschool have them, as does his speech therapist, Ms. Cydney. Even the substitute babysitter we hired last Friday night showed up eight months pregnant.

But the one tummy that doesn’t have a baby in it is mine. That’s one tummy that’s never had a baby in it.

I turn from the dishwasher and crouch to Mateo’s eye level. He knows both he and his sister, Olivia, were adopted. I tell him the now-familiar tale of how he was born in Guatemala in another lady’s tummy, his Guatemalan mommy. I fill in the details as I know them, ending with the plane ride home to San Francisco. I assure him that Mommy and Daddy love him more than any other little boy in the whole wide world.

After I finish, he crawls into my lap.

“I like that lady,” Mateo says, referring to his birth mother. He calls her by name. “She nice.”

“She is nice,” I agree.

“I want to be in Mommy’s tummy,” he says, pouting. He pushes me to the floor and lifts up my t-shirt. He pulls it over his head and snuggles into me. “I love Mommy.” His voice is muffled.

I hug him through my t-shirt. He’s such a little boy, but must understand so much. My own life with biological parents and siblings seems so easy and straightforward by comparison.

“I love you, too, Mateo,” I say. We sit on the floor for a long time.


5 Responses to “A Baby in My Tummy”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I like your site design! Did you develop it yourself or where can I get a copy?

  2. Jessica says:

    Thanks for the compliment! My site designer is Dilyara Breyer, searchable on the web. We are using a WordPress platform. The painting across the banner is by Guatemalan artist Oscar Peren.

  3. christine says:

    This is beautiful Jess.

  4. Jessica says:

    Really appreciate your comment, Christine. Was a poignant moment for me.

  5. nur says:

    this is a great story, liked it so much:)

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