Worries: pregnant women and moms alike are consumed by them. We worry about miscarrying in the first trimester; about the quad screens and anatomy scans of the second; and about delivering a healthy baby in the third, while remaining healthy ourselves. And don’t even get me started on the number of worries that plague new moms (Why is she not sleeping? Will she ever sleep? What do I need to do to get her to sleep? Oh thank goodness, her eyes are finally closed. OH MY GOD, IS SHE ALIVE?!?!). There is one universal cause for concern, however, that is often kept quiet, but no doubt leads to tremendous angst and widespread panic amongst the pregnant masses. And that deeply troublesome worry, the one that keeps us awake at night drenched in our own anxiety-filled sweat, is that our babies will be ugly.
Make no mistake, babies can, in fact, be unattractive, even though the general public might like you to believe otherwise. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told that all babies are beautiful. Oh really? Then what the hell is that thing staring back at me on my Facebook newsfeed that looks like it should be kept on retainer in the event that The Goonies ever needs to be remade? I feel like a baby again myself with the night terrors I’m about to experience in the wake of having to see that thing. Please, tell me again how all babies are beautiful while I’m curled up in the fetal position, rocking myself back and forth like an escaped mental patient, willing myself not to go back to sleep. Listen, at the end of the day, we all go through awkward stages (See: My Elementary School Unibrow) and, the truth is, ugly babies need love, too. Just keep Quasimodo off of my social media platforms and we’ll do just fine.
In any event, I too had fallen prey to this concern a time or two during my pregnancy. In fact, not only was I concerned that my baby might emerge less-than-fortunate looking, I was also concerned that I’d be so blinded by love that I wouldn’t even realize it if she were. As such, I made my closest friends solemnly swear that they would tell me if my baby were ugly, just so that I wouldn’t run the risk of inflicting that same harm onto my unsuspecting Facebook friends that I so deeply wished hadn’t been inflicted upon me. After all, I’m pretty sure this exact scenario is precisely what Confucius had in mind when he promulgated the early precepts of The Golden Rule. Nevertheless, while it was touch and go there for a brief moment in the hospital (have you ever seen a baby emerge from the womb?), I was blessed with, what I’ve been told is, a beautiful baby girl. Translation? The newborn shoot was a go.
Upon arriving at the photographer’s studio, we were told that the newborn shoots were held upstairs and that a tall, narrow, spiral staircase was the only way to get there. I’m sorry, but what genius decided that that was a good idea? Because that’s exactly what I want to do days after major abdominal surgery — navigate this vertical maze of death. No really, let’s take the roughly one third of pregnant women who end up with a c-section and play a virtual game of ping pong with their internal organs while they’re forced to climb Mount Everest. That sounds like a fun little game. Left with no other choice, however, I prepared to make the trek, dying a little inside with each step taken.
Upon reaching the summit, we made our way into the naturally lit area where Brooke was to be photographed and proceeded to undress her for those cute, fresh-from-the-womb shots. Only problem? Much to her father’s delight, my little girl HATES to be naked, so upon being stripped down to her diaper, we were met with screams reminiscent of her first time in the bath. We tried everything to calm her. I nursed her. We tried the pacifier. We even got her completely naked and wrapped her in what I can only assume was a urine-soaked communal blanket. But nothing could console our little girl and each photo was marked by an unapologetic scowl. Eventually, my husband left the room, made rather uncomfortable by the fact that another man was holding his naked daughter (I weep for his sanity when Brooke reaches college), so I was left to watch each painful shot alone, wondering with each click of the camera just how far Photoshop had advanced.
When I went back in to review the photos a couple of weeks later, I was amazed to find that they were able to get a few normal-looking shots where my daughter didn’t look like the spawn of Satan. And seeing as how my pregnancy brain had given way to mommy brain, wherein I’m unable to make any kind of decisions, I ended up buying 6 different portraits to the tune of $500. A frugal economist, I am not. Still, when my daughter asks one day far in the future to see what she looked like as a baby, I’ll have half a grand worth of proof that she was, indeed, not ugly. Though the truth is, even if she were, I would love her all the same.
Maybe just with a few less photos taken for posterity.