Thursday, April 2, 2015

Recessive Gene

When I was pregnant with Benjamin and my nephew AJ was two, I taught him to say "recessive gene."  It was the cutest little thing to come out of his mouth, and it was a fun way to tease my husband.  I like my blond hair and blue eyes (when I was a kid, a few other kids said to me, "But you look so American!" when they found out I was Canadian).  I pictured blond hair, blue eyed kids.  Except I fell in love with a man who has dark brown hair and dark eyes.  Bonus points though: his sister is light haired and blue eyed, so we thought just maybe he had a recessive gene in there.  Just maybe?  We thought we might just find out when our boy was born.

Almost two years ago, Benjamin was born with light brown hair (though not much of it) and dark blue eyes.  He came out looking just like his dad.  Those eyes eventually turned brown, like his dad's, but the summer after he turned one, that boy's hair turned golden blond.  For the first time, people started to say that he looked like me.  (And I loved it).  I patted my Lydia bump and started picturing my daughter as blond, too.

(Just for the record, I love my dark haired, dark eyed husband.  I picked him, and I'd pick him again any day.  And I would love my children no matter their eye color and hair color.)

So it was shocking to me to see Lydia's full head of dark hair when she was born.  It was her dad's color.  Not just brown but a dark brown.  I couldn't believe a baby came out of me with hair like that.  I kept taking peeks under her hat to look at it.  So much hair!  So dark! 

And her eyes?  I have no idea what color they were.  Her eyes were closed and we didn't get to see them.

It really sucks to not know what eye color your child had.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that those eyes might have changed color anyway.

And her hair might have too.  That dark hair might have turned blond in the sun, just like her brother's did (it is now brown again after the winter but has the cutest highlights in it).  Or maybe it wouldn't have?

I hate not knowing.

When Ben was a baby, I couldn't picture what he'd look like as a toddler (even though I look back at photos now and see my Benji Boy in all of them so clearly).  And now I can't picture what he'll look like as an 8-year-old or a teenager or as an adult.

And so though I've held my daughter, it was hard to look past the bruising and discoloration and peeling skin.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that I've seen her cute nose and her perfect lips and her dark hair.  Sometimes I feel like I can't picture her.  So
metimes I feel like I don't know what she looks like.  And I certainly don't know what she looks like as as a toddler or an 8-year-old and eventually a teenager and an adult.

Sometimes I forget that she was born with a full head of dark hair.  When I do picture her, she's blond. And strangely, usually, when I picture her, she's a toddler, more Ben's age.  She's blond and she's adorable.  And she's happy, she's definitely giggling.  And she knows how very much she's loved.

That just feels like such a figment of my imagination. 


  1. I did look at Nancy's eyes, they were brown, but like marbles - no life in them, those eyes that should have scanned my face in that lovely way Niamh's did, when she was born. Lifting up her delicate lids to see that is not an image I cherish. I'm not sure I should have looked. It seemed almost inappropriate. There really aren't any words for the horror of this whole experience, are there?

    1. Oh Cara, I don't know if I regret not doing that or not. I just didn't want to disturb her I think. Plus, I was a little bit afraid of her I think. It probably took two hours before I kissed her.

      But you're right. Whenever I stop and think about this all, I realize: no wonder you're so traumatized.

  2. Those are some of the hardest things for me too. Not knowing Johnathan's eye color, hair color (since he was so little), what he would have looked like as a toddler. I often envision him to look just like Paul as a toddler, but just like you I picture him giggling and happy knowing that he is so loved and never had to experience the pain of this world. It would be nice if heaven gave us updates on them.... :(

    1. Amanda - such a sweet thought. Updates from heaven would be amazing.

  3. I remember being afraid of my daughter's body. I still wonder about her physicality because of that fear. I am grateful I have the photos my family took and the memories Matt holds so I can share in that as well.


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