When Ebony was first born, I would look down at this tiny replica of her father, and wonder why my genes were so weak. During the first few weeks, the only sounds I heard other than the creaking cries of a newborn were guests exclaiming: “Oh, she looks JUST like Laurie.” Had I not grabbed her straight from the arms of the midwife as she was raised up from the water, still very much attached to me, I may have been forced to question whether she was in fact mine.
“Oh, she’s going to be dark JUST LIKE LAURIE.”
“ Oooh look at her eyes, they’re going to be brown LIKE LAURIE’S.”
“She has LAURIE’S LIPS, doesn’t she?”
That face that I had loved for ten long years, suddenly became very hateable. How dare this grown man’s face come and take over my baby, how dare it rid me of any distinguishing physical connection with my own young. I would spend hours staring at my tiny newborn, trying to find bits of her that I could claim as my own.
But then the clouds lifted. As though stirred, her murky grey newborn eyes swirled and settled to reveal a hint of me underneath. Blue at the centre, and flecking out into ocean green, her eyes were undeniably mine. I could rest easy, there had been no mistake in the living room that day, this baby was definitely mine.
As soon as her eye colour changed, so too did the comments: “Oh, she is THE SPIT OF YOU.”
“Doesn’t she look like her MUMMY?”
“She has your eyes, Fiona.”
Like the aftermath of a positive DNA test on Jeremy Kyle, I felt a renewed sense of family and belonging. For I was not just a vessel for the unborn identical twin of my husband, no, I was also a giver of eyes. Finally I could look down at this little limpet in my arms, and see a part of myself staring back at me.
I don’t know if these feelings were normal, or if I am incredibly vain and egocentric, but I was painfully elated when people started to say she looked like me.