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My Toddler Thinks I’m Pregnant

We were walking through airport security when it happened. My daughter, almost 3, lifted my shirt and patted my belly just as the TSA officer was taking my ID.

"Baby in Mommy's belly," she beamed.

"Oh! Are you going to be a big sister?" The TSA agent smiled at her.

My little girl nodded enthusiastically in response.

Meanwhile, I stood there in shock, wide-eyed and embarrassed, not entirely sure what I should say.

Because the thing is … I'm not pregnant. I've never been pregnant. I will likely never be pregnant.

There is certainly no baby in my belly.

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Of course, I can't really blame my girl for her confusion. There have been a lot babies in bellies around us lately, and we had just finished a visit with one of my closest friends, whose growing belly was part of the reason we were there. We've also been talking more about my daughter's adoption these last several months, and looking over pictures of her with her tummy mama, both before and after she was born.

So, yeah, she's currently under the impression that everyone is pregnant, especially me.

I would love to give her a sibling—more so, even, than I would love to be pregnant for myself.

That whole TSA incident wasn't the first time she had declared there to be a baby in my belly, though it was certainly the most public. I happily could have done without the stomach reveal she offered up to the world. And ever since that day, she's patted my belly and whispered "baby" more times than I would like.

Heck, who am I kidding? Even one time is more times than I would like.

I'm sure this is just a normal toddler stage, right? The whole concept of pregnancy has got to be so confusing for kids, and I have to believe that when they start being more exposed to it (as my daughter has been lately), figuring out how the whole thing works becomes a bigger priority for them. And apparently that can mean talking about it all the time.

I'm just wondering how normal it is that she's still talking about it. She's still telling strangers, even more than a month later, that Mommy is pregnant. Even when Mommy has tried to make it clear, again and again, that there is no baby in her belly.

The good news is, outside from that one especially embarrassing encounter, I've mostly just found these proclamations of hers to be humorous in nature. Being infertile, and having spent years upon years hoping and praying to one day be pregnant, I suppose some might assume there would have been a bit more sting to her misunderstanding for me. After all, I would love to give her a sibling—more so, even, than I would love to be pregnant for myself.

Having anyone mistake you for having (something you really want), no matter how innocent that mistake may be, hurts.

And it's not like the same mistake has never hurt me before. Years ago, when I was still in the depths of infertility hell (pumping myself full of hormones and paying an exorbitant amount of money for treatments that never did work), a pregnant friend's son actually said something similar—turning from his mommy's tummy to mine and asking if I had a baby in there, too.

Back then, I'll be the first to admit, it did sting. Not because I thought he was being cruel (of course I didn't—he was just a kid) or because I feared I might actually be easy to mistake as pregnant (I'd like to think that's never been the case), but because I wished so desperately that I could tell him, "yes."

When you've been fighting for something for so long, and it's all you really want, having anyone mistake you for having it, no matter how innocent that mistake may be, hurts.

Now, though? I just haven't been fazed by it. I think I'm more removed from the whole thing; I'm at a healthier place with my infertile status, in many ways because of my daughter and the way she has shaped my ideas of motherhood ever since she was first brought into my life.

So no, hearing those words from her didn't hurt me. It just embarrassed me a little.

RELATED: Let's Be Real, Adoption Is Not the Solution to Abortion

The problem is, I'm still at a total loss for how to convince her that I'm not actually pregnant. How much is a 3-year-old supposed to understand when it comes to this topic, anyway?

There is no baby in Mommy's tummy. There never was, and there never will be. And that's OK. Mommy has come to a point of peace with that.

But how about we keep those details between just you and me, OK, sweet girl? TSA doesn't really need to know the state of Mommy's womb.

Image via Leah Campbell

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