You might think being on the verge of the birth of your fourth baby, that all those motherly sentiments that keep us forever missing the faces of our children’s newborn faces would ease up a little. But in my experience the addition of another baby only pains me more. I see them in old photos, fat fleshy toddler cheeks and notoriously bad haircuts. In home videos just 6, and 7 lbs looking like old men wrapped in varying shades of receiving blankets. In these photos they were young, tiny and new.And now they aren’t. Their limbs stretching almost daily. Their hair changing texture and their features maturing, morphing right before our eyes.
They say as a parent you don’t know if your baby is ugly. But I would have to disagree. Our first born came nearly 4 weeks early. His little face colored by a couple red “stork bites” – common birth marks they assured us would fade within a couple years time. Swollen eyes, the result of such fast & intense labor. “Will that go away?” his father would ask me just hours after he was born, referring to the slight malformation of his sweet newborn head. At 29 years old, having no experience with babies in the least, his expectations were understandably pretty high seeing that picture perfect newborns in the movies was all he had to compare. So he sat, noticeably concerned about his beat up looking new boy, with a slightly pointy head. Who was not pretty. But shamelessly adored because he was our first.
Baby two would arrive perfectly handsome with a head full of thick black hair. His skin a warm golden shade unlike any other newborn I’ve yet to meet. He was unarguably a very “good looking” baby boy. And the vain mother in me couldn’t wait to show him off. I remember when we brought him home our neighbors were quick to smoother him with kisses, a house full of overly delighted Spanish tongues tossing around foreign complements dedicated to his dark features and thick hair, joking that he was one of them and therefore reason enough to love (and squeeze) a little harder. Which they did. And still do.
Baby three came as a shock to us all. First of all, his gender had been kept secret so the simple fact of seeing yet another penis caught me slightly by surprise. And then, while on my chest I was quick to note a single streak of white hair cutting through a single strip upon his scalp. Another, different kind of birth mark that would quickly disappear months later once all of his hair eventually turned the same shade of white. And those huge blue eyes on that grumpy little man face made for one homely newborn. Undeniably boyish features, coupled with a tiny bottom lip sucked in so tight I couldn’t help but keep pulling it out to make sure he actually had one. Yet something in me knew, staring long and hard at him in the hospital that first night after a swift and breezy labor, that he would undoubtedly grow into a strikingly handsome man. And quite possibly, the best looking of them all. In the way I would imagine maybe John Hamm or any other commonly desired celebrity with a prominent face probably looked as an infant, those first few months. I could easily picture him at 2, and 5, and 35 years old and have come to enjoy watching that very face evolve. My projections, so far, frightfully similar to what I envisioned that very first night I held him.
And now we wait with mounting anticipation. Not so much desperate to know whether we will bring them home yet another brother, or a new sister, but more anxious to meet the face we will come to adore in all kinds of phases, for the rest of our lives.
They say a mother never knows. But I do. And I take pride in every single feature, be it flawed or fawned over. However it comes to be.
-The Arrival of boy two, two weeks after birth.