Yes, I Have a Mixed Baby. Thank You For Noticing.
I wasn’t one of those women that had a love-at-first-sight moment with my infant when she was born. Not all women do. Afterward, I wondered if that was one of those things that women that have babies tell women that don’t have babies in order to make them get excited or look forward to what will inevitably be the most painful moment in their lives.
Though this will sound apathetic, the whole pregnancy I felt like there was this strange alien being inside of me. I couldn’t explain what her pokes and jabs really felt like to people other than to say pokes and jabs but it was more grotesque than that at times leaving me to feel as if she were literally moving my organs over with her arms, and I guess she sort of was. Then when she was born, my first thought upon seeing her was, “wow, she looks super Korean.” I grew up in a decidedly white family. Having a mixed baby, I really had no idea what to expect but in all of my dreams she was never Korean looking. I’m sure that’s because there was no one in my family growing up that was of any Asian descent so when I pictured babies, or when my mind pictured them while I slept, I pictured me and my sisters and cousins: little, slightly chubby in the case of my sisters, with huge heads in the case of my cousins, white children. It wasn’t that I wasn’t drawn to her, I just needed time staring at her little swollen features that were very unlike anything I can remember seeing to foster our budding relationship. Did I mention she was swollen? TV newborns are never swollen. Her little squished face took a little time for the swelling to go down for me to even see what she really looked like.
The reactions to our little mixed bundle of joy were all over the place. She was cute after the swelling subsided and the wrinkles went away to be sure but to my family she was really Korean and to my husband’s family she was really… Korean. Everyone agreed, she looked Korean, which was humorous because to my family it seemed surprising and to his family it also seemed surprising. Clearly no one had any idea what to expect. It wasn’t even until I said how surprised I was that she was so Korean that my sisters in rather hushed remarks said, “oh good, you thought that too? I didn’t know if that was weird as a first thought or if I could even say that to you.” I didn’t find it strange at all. It wasn’t until a few days later when we put her into a nursery next to 12 other full-Korean babies that we saw how very mixed she truly was. It seemed that next to Korean babies, she looks a bit more foreign and next to foreign babies, she looks more Asian. In pictures with me, people tell me how much she looks like my husband and as she grows, those same people decide she now looks like me. It’s likely not unlike what any other parent goes through as they stare at their child picking the father’s features and the mother’s features out. Does she have my nose? His eyes?
What’s funnier is that Korean people generally seem to be under the impression that mixed babies are all cute and before they’ve even seen her or as they pass us on the street without actually seeing her face I can hear passerby remark, “I’m sure she’s cute.” Of course I think she is, but I never know quite what the appropriate response is to this remark in Korean. “Of course she is,” is either too presumptuous or just downright egotistical while “thank you” seems strange since I know they didn’t actually see her. The whole presumption based on the sole fact that she’s mixed irks me every time I hear it.
“Thank you for presuming my child is good looking because in effect you’re saying my husband and I are good looking because we’re the ones that you’re looking at while saying that since you can’t see our baby under the cover of her stroller,” seems a bit too long and involved.
I absolutely adore my baby. She’s gorgeous and I would say half of the time she looks like me and half of the time she looks like my husband. Or, maybe it just depends on who is holding her when we check to see who she looks more akin to. Not only does she seem to look more Korean or more western depending on who is holding her, but she really does go back and forth which is clear from looking back through pictures. Every day is just that much more exciting with our little mixed bundle of joy wondering who she will look like from one minute to the next and the conversations with strangers on the street are also just that much more intriguing and annoying now too.
Yes, I have a mixed baby. Thank you for noticing.*
*Due to some comments and people not receiving my sarcastic tone in some of the sentences on this post, I just want to say that I don’t actually appreciate people coming up to us and beginning or ending sentences with “She’s mixed so… ” or “… because she’s mixed” and making presumptive statements because of who her parents happen to be. She’s cute because she’s cute and she’s ours because of who we fell in love with.