I’m terrible with faces. You know, not being able to recognize someone once I’ve been introduced to them? I feel that blank stare coming out of my own face as if it’s a cheap plastic mask when someone comes up to me and says, “Hey! How have you been doing? How old is that baby now?” Hopefully I cover my tracks fairly well and let them mark it up to sleepless nights and not to the fact that I’m totally inadequate when it comes to facial recognition.
I think about that quite a bit now since I’ve had ZGirl, much like I did when XBoy was a baby. To me, babies really do all look alike, with their mostly bald, bocce ball heads. With XBoy, I would inspect him during diaper changes and try to memorize freckles and birthmarks, just in case someone stole him out of my Target cart.
ZGirl doesn’t have any freckles or birthmarks, so I’ve been trying to find something – remarkable – about her face during my studies. What I find myself saying is “my god, she’s beautiful…” and I wonder why I don’t feel vain when I say it. In fact, I feel something quite differently and it took a while for me to put my finger on that feeling. It was envy mixed with jealousy.
There’s no vanity there because it’s not like I’m saying, “I’m beautiful, so of course, ZGirl is beautiful,” because she’s not my genetic offspring. The jealousy stems from something primitive inside of me, something that irrationally puts my husband with a strange woman who together had a baby and I am reaping the benefits of that union. There was nothing that could have prepared me for such a strange feeling.
I compare photographs of ZGirl to XBoy and certainly one can see some similarities, which she may or may not grow out of. I mean, c’mon. Chubby cheeks and button noses are pretty standard features on babies and those are just a couple of the things I notice when comparing the two.
I’ve been trying to put into words these complex emotions, but it’s truly been impossible to do more than state what is obvious to me. I can’t even confirm that this envy/jealousy is actually a negative feeling. Maybe it’s because that while I feel the little green monster sitting on my shoulder, I have such a feeling of adoration and appreciation that it mutes it rather effectively.
During my pregnancy, I hardly gave our donor a thought. I’m not sure if it was because I tried to keep myself emotionally calloused, just in case something happened during the pregnancy, or if it was that without the physical manifestation of that union of the donor and my husband, I didn’t understand the full impact of what has now come to be: ZGirl. But now? I look into ZGirl’s still very blue eyes and wonder: does the donor have blue eyes? Do her children have blue eyes? Does the other recipient’s baby look like ZGirl? How many children does the donor have? Is it possible that one day our paths could randomly cross and she would look at ZGirl and recognize her own child(ren)?
Everyone tells us how beautiful ZGirl is; how perfect she is. Of course I agree out of maternal pride, but I also agree because somehow it acknowledges how beautiful and perfect the donor is, and always will be, to us. So I continue to stare at her, to memorize, and marvel…