My Biracial Babies Looked So Different Than I Expected

I am white, my husband is black, we all assumed the baby would be somewhere in between.

“He’s in here.”

My husband led my mother through the doors into the NICU to meet her first grandchild, who was under observation after a long, difficult labour and delivery. Immediately upon entry, my mom spotted a nurse holding a dark-skinned baby with a shock of hair sticking straight up in the air.

My mother cried out with joy at the sight of her new grandson, cooing and commenting how sweet he was. She was already in love with this wee person.

“That’s not him,” my husband informed her, laughing. “This is him,” he corrected, leading my mother to the whitest baby you have ever seen.

My mother can’t be blamed for her error in baby recognition. I am white, my husband is black, and we all assumed the baby would be somewhere in between. So when she saw a darker-skinned baby in the area she expected to see her grandchild, she naturally assumed it was him.

None of us expected a blond baby with lighter skin than I have (and I am nearly transparent). A nurse even pulled my husband aside and said, “I’m so sorry, dear, I don’t think he’s going to get much darker than this.” My husband laughed at the absurdity of thinking he would care about that.

A few months later, we were in the grocery store with our super white baby when we came across a white man holding a darker-skinned baby. My husband briefly considered approaching him and saying, “Whoops, looks like we switched babies somewhere back there, here you go!”

But despite having my light skin, our son is a carbon copy of his father. It's a good thing really, or else the mailman would be receiving some serious side-eye. In fact, all of the grandchildren on my husband’s side look like my husband. The Jones' genes are strong, and when the four of them are placed together, only one face is seen, copied four times.

So, when I became pregnant with our second child, we had adjusted our expectations in terms of having a baby who looked bi-racial, because though we joked about the possibility of having a baby that looked completely black this time, we knew that in reality, this child could come out any skin colour under the sun. But we did expect him to look like my husband. Every child in the family did, after all.

We were right about one thing—he came out even more white than his brother, but with dark hair this time. But he didn’t look like my husband. In fact, for two years, he didn’t look like anyone. WTF is this, genetics? My husband joked that whenever he had him out alone, he was going to be accused of kidnapping.

Eventually, baby #2 turned into a clone of my father. Because why not? Why bother trying to predict anything anymore? And baby #1, now almost 10, is still blond, which is equally weird because I am not nor have I ever been blond. No one predicted a blond child.

My sister has two children who are identical clones of each other and herself as a child. Beautiful little blond children. She is expecting her third any second now, so if we play by the rules of expectation, this third baby should look roughly like James Earl Jones.

It’s only natural to try and guess what your future children will look like. Many of us have been doing this since childhood. If anyone wants to know what my child with Leonardo DiCaprio would look like, I have a detailed description.

We even analyze our ultrasounds. “Look, that blurry blob over there is totally my chin.” Although, my first child did greatly resemble someone in his ultrasound—The Wolfman.

3D ultrasounds give us an even more detailed look at our baby and feed into our desire to know what our child looks like, or who they look like before they are even done being formed. Truthfully, everyone’s baby looks the same in those—they all resemble Jack Skellington. But it’s fun looking at our ultrasound like a Rorschach test, seeing what we want to see.

There’s no harm in having expectations or making predictions about what your new baby will look like. We all do it, and we all know that no matter their features, they will be the most beautiful baby in the world. But genetics are weird, and mother nature has a sense of humour.  So try not to be surprised when your baby comes out resembling your partner’s ginger sixth cousin, twice removed.

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