Being a new father is a mind-blowing experience, but what is most amazing is how quickly our baby is growing. It’s been over three weeks since Marianne was born, and I still marvel at the rate of her physical development.
When we first laid eyes on her the morning she was born, our daughter was swollen up like a newborn pup. Though I could definitely recognize her newly opened eyes’ resemblance to mine (well – “eye,” as it was not until day three that she was fully and consistently able to keep her left eye open), the rest of her features were very much like any just-born baby: wrinkly.
We were, nevertheless, amazed by her full head of hair, which came prêt-a-porter and looking somewhat like an East Village hipster haircut meets David Beckham’s faux-mohawk from the 90s. My mother-in-law was particularly excited about her delicate skin – a trait from her side and a sure sign, according to her, that she would be “bai,” or fair-skinned. Upon further inspection, we were also relieved to count ten fingers and toes.
Fine features aside, other physical changes quickly set in. As with all newborns, Marianne’s swollen puffiness subsided over the next few days and she very quickly began looking more and more like a baby, and less like a … well … fetus. Luckily, she also remains relatively jaundice free and her skin retains its rosy hue.
Since then it’s been amazing to watch how our little one changes by the day, and at times, even by the hour. There are mornings when we will awaken to find her the spitting image of her mother, with her long-ish eyes and apple cheeks; only to discover that hours later, she has assumed the different sized eyes and furrowed brow characteristic of all us Chans. She especially resembles me when she is straining to poo – a condition that renders an intense look of deep concentration on her tiny face and invariably sends my wife into hysterics.
At other times Marianne looks like my wife’s mother, particularly in her cheeks and chin, though she lacks the characteristically voluminous and hollowed-out eyes so common in people of Hui ethnicity (my mother-in-law traces her family back to Persia). I’ve also noticed those days when she looks nearly identical to my sister’s baby pictures.
These days, as Marianne continues to grow, it’s easier to see all of these family traits simultaneously in her face, like a holographic image that changes when you look at it from different angles. I’m beginning to understand why parents everywhere become increasingly attached, and perhaps even a little obsessed, with their kids.
Of all her traits, however, there has been one in particular that has been most striking: just the other day, as I was staring down at Marianne in her crib as she lay there staring back at me, I noticed yet another familiar expression – the same pensive look my late father would assume whenever he was waking up from a nap, or just kicking back and watching TV. Seeing this was oddly reassuring.