Newborns. As you wake from the temporary unconsciousness that follows labour people begin to crowd around your bed. They take it in turns to coo over how gorgeous their new grandson/nephew/cousin is. It’s very lovely, but if you’re honest you actually expected your baby to be a bit cuter. Admit it, friends, many of us have been there.
OK, there are some smooth skinned, bright-eyed babes who enter this world ready to grace the front a pampers packet, but for the most part newborns are a bit odd looking.
My son was born late. 13 days late to be precise (he needed a little coaxing). Consequently he came out looking, as the nurse who did his newborn check put it, ‘a bit overcooked’. His face was a swollen and puffy so you couldn’t see his eyes very well, and his skin was quite red. Actually, when I look back at day 1 photos now I find him more cute than I did then. I suppose I expected him to look at bit more like ‘newborn’ babies do in films, so I got a bit of a shock. (Yes, I do like to blame Hollywood as often as possible).
Of course, this is probably because babies in Hollywood films are actually newborn. Sometimes I watch a film and wince at the size of the infant who has apparently just been delivered. Ouch, I wouldn’t fancy giving birth to a two-month-old. And even within a few days with my boy the swollen face made way to reveal big blue eyes. By two months he was getting pretty darn adorable. And now? Well, take my word for it dear reader, he’s in off the charts!
But not on day one. Ooooh no. I had imagined his delicate pink hands, wrapped tightly around my little finger but the image I got wasn’t quite like that.
You know when you stay in the bath a bit too long and your fingertips go all wrinkled and pruny? Now imagine what would happen if you stayed in the bath an extra 13 DAYS! Add to this the fact that when babies are overdue they are often born with extra long nails. Enter, wizard hands:
No no, those aren’t the hands of a ninety-year-old woman who’s let herself go. They are the hands of someone literally hours old. As you can see, not quite what I’d expected.
Other babies might have a swelling that makes their head look misshapen for the first few weeks. I hear that premature babies can still be a bit hairy and/or oily. Mmm, sweet. Some have sore skin that goes scabby. And, you know, I sort of knew all this before my Bubs was born. I suppose I just thought that was other people’s kids.
Of course, the mere act of typing this is enough to send my background-guilt levels sky-rocketing. But I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, so I want you to know it too. I’m not someone who thinks ‘newborns are ugly’ or ‘they all look the same at first’, but I am someone who was slightly disconcerted to find she didn’t instantly think her little boy was the cutest thing on earth. It’s not a great thing to feel when you’re not expecting it. I do now. Because he is. Obvs.