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When the baby was first born, my parents came and immediately exclaimed about the cleft in his chin. Just like his grandfather (my dad), and his great-grandfather! Our family chin! Finally, after several rounds of excited discussion of the remarkable chin, my husband (who had been very patient) pointed out in a slightly injured tone, “I have a cleft chin.” OH. Of course! A cleft chin just like his father! Ahem. Cough.

It’s funny though, one of the first things that happens when people meet or hear about a baby is often to inquire who he looks like. It usually comes right after, “Is he a good baby?”, one of my all-time least favorite baby questions, and somewhere before a question designed to determine his developmental status, ie if he is rolling over yet, or if we have introduced solids. (No, and no.) I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about why it is so important to determine if he looks like one parent or another, especially to uninvolved parties. I can completely understand why my mother sees so much of me in him, and why BWB’s mother swears she has a picture of him at three months which is indistinguishable from our son’s, but why does it really matter to someone I just met? My theories range from it being just one of the standard conversational topics about a new baby to something more along the lines of ensuring the baby’s status as a member of the tribe. One way or another, it is one of those things which almost always comes up.

I wonder too sometimes if we read into it, as if his face is an array of tarot cards or tea leaves. Hmmm, he looks like his mother, clearly he will have a penchant for salty things and enjoy knitting. Aaah, he has his father’s chin, obviously he will put entirely too much sugar in his tea and excel in the martial arts at a young age. Of course it doesn’t work that way, but maybe that is what we are trying to see when we study our babies’ faces?

So, after all that, who does our baby look like? Sometimes I look at him and I see his daddy’s cheeks, or an expression that is totally BWB. I tell him, Baby, you have your BWB face on this morning! Other times, he screws up his little nose and I have to laugh, since I know how that expression feels from the inside of it. I think he has his father’s nose, and frankly the cleft chin could have come from either of us but we’ll call it BWB’s for the sake of paternal pride. Most people seem to think that overall he looks more like me, at least so far. My mother-in-law is, of course, a notable exception. I have not yet seen this photographic evidence that she says she has, but my husband insists our son looks nothing like he did as an infant. Among other things, BWB says he was an ugly baby. (No, I don’t believe him, either.) We do have a couple photos of the baby where he looks a great deal like the photos of me at his age. (Well, actually slightly older than his age, since I was a tiny baby and he is not. But you get the idea.) He has such an expressive little face that he can look quite different from one moment to the next — my mother calls him the little face-dancer because of it.

Sometimes I look into his eyes and it is disconcerting, because it is like looking into a mirror. I would say if nothing else, he definitely has my eyes. How very strange, to see so much of myself in someone else’s face. It takes my breath away.

In the end, though, I think the answer as to the question of who he looks like is pretty simple: He looks like himself. That’s all he ever needs to be.

Here we are again, another month down. Another month of waking up every morning to exclaim how big he’s gotten overnight. Another month of marveling at how very different he is now than he was (insert time frame here — yesterday, last week, last month). This month I celebrated the anniversary of the day I found out I was pregnant, and as a result we’ve entered a time frame where I remember where I was and where he was this time last year. I remember those feelings of wonder, pressing my hand against my still-flat(ter) stomach and thinking of the tiny life inside me, barely more than a bundle of cells dividing rapidly. I have all of his ultrasound photos up on the bulletin board still, and in a few short weeks we’ll be at the date of the first series. Baby, the label says, with a small arrow in case you missed the appropriate smudge. He was the size of a poppy seed, an apple seed, a peanut, and now he’s being referred to as my bruiser, the future linebacker, and mistaken for a six-month-old. What a crazy thing this life-building process is.

My parents were here this month, helping to take care of the baby while I went back to work. I thought for certain I would be ready to have my house back by the time they left, but instead I miss them more than I think I have since I watched my father leave me alone at boarding school 19 years ago. I have gotten used to peeking into their room (aka my craft room) in the morning and seeing them there, sharing coffee over breakfast, having them here when I come home. Some of my missing them is missing another set of adult humans to share baby-holding duties with, but more than that I miss them in particular. Watching my father with his grandson was a daily delight — the two of them have a special bond, that’s all I can say — and listening to my mother talk to him brought back memories of those sing-song tones being used with me and with my sister. The morning after they left, my mother called me on her way to work and I held the phone up for the baby. She said, “Hello my little pookienoo!” and his eyes got very wide; he looked at me as if to ask how did I get his grandmother in that tiny box? As I write this, he is having his morning nap, and all I can think is, he should be napping on my dad, this is their nap time. I miss them. It was a joy to have them here in a way I never imagined it would be, and I miss them terribly.

About two weeks ago, my mother spotted two little tooth buds in the baby’s mouth, lines of white on his lower gums. I had seen them earlier but thought I was misinterpreting what they were. With that information, his increased fussiness and the part where his sleep schedule has gone crazy make a lot more sense. We gave him Tylenol and he napped for three hours that afternoon, poor little guy. I’m trying not to use it too often, but it does seem to help. He hasn’t liked the cold teething rings, preferring instead to gnaw on cloth or rubber. I acquired the oh-so-trendy Sophie the giraffe and she has proven to be tasty. I keep hoping those little white lines will pop through and give us both some relief, but so far they are hanging out under the gum, content to give my poor baby fevers and discomfort.

Also new this month are the oh-so-close-to-rolling-over maneuvers the baby does on a regular basis. By the end of this week, he has flipped almost completely over, with his belly and hips flat on the ground, but that one arm still tucked under so it’s not all the way done yet. I was really hoping he’d get the hang of it before my parents left, but he hasn’t yet. I am told that he is supposed to go from belly to back first, since it is easier, but he shows absolutely no interest in doing so. I probably don’t give him enough tummy time, but when he is on his belly he’s either perfectly happy to just hang out or totally frustrated and over it, so rolling is not really on his agenda. I’m not worried; he’ll figure it out eventually.

I have to put toys on the table now while I am eating with him in my lap. It’s usually a little Eeyore with a mirror/rattle on the bottom that my mother got for him. I have to do this because he has decided that reaching for stuff on a table is the best thing ever, and as a result he will grab my plate, food, silverware, or anything else within grabbing distance. I am also discovering this means he wants to help mama type, or move the mouse. Busy baby is very busy!

A few days ago I was in the baby stuff store and saw an 8-day-old. It was startling to see him next to my baby and realize how much has changed in just four months. Our pile of outgrown clothes is getting big and now includes a stack of 3-month sized items, while the wardrobe he is actively wearing is increasingly made up of 6-month size clothes. It seems like every day I try to put him in something only to discover it doesn’t fit anymore, and I look at some of these outfits thinking how tiny they look, then remember they were big on him once upon a time. Given that his father and I were both in the less-than-25-percentiles growing up, I expected to have a small baby. Surprise! The growth charts continue to insist he is mostly average height and slightly above average weight, but he seems huge to me.

It’s so odd to write these little posts; I’m never sure what to include. Surely I will remember the big things, like rolling over and teething. So do I comment on minutiae, those little things which probably don’t mean anything to anyone other than me? He has developed incredibly thick earwax this month, gobs of bright orange stuff. My husband thought I had been scratched by the cat until he realized all those lines on my chest were courtesy of our son, whose fingernails remain talon-like even after being trimmed. He snores. He has a tiny patch of eczema over his right eye which is intermittently itchy. When he poos, wait for the second (or third) round before changing his diaper, because they never come alone. His stork bite gets very dark when he cries. His belly button still occasionally seems to ooze a bit.

One time this month, he was fussing in his pack-n-play and just as I leaned over and his eyes met mine, his sound of choice was “MAaaa.” I know it was pure coincidence, but my heart still skipped a beat. I know the day will come soon enough that he says it and means it “for real”, but I can wait. I’m learning the value of taking every minute for itself, this baby time is flying by so fast, and so I can definitely wait.

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