As a small birthday present to myself, I ordered Bebe’s baby book last week. Since her nursery is essentially just as bare as it was a week ago when I waxed poetic about the few things we have already stocked it with, I suppose I should have been buying something more “useful” for her and amusing for me – like a ridiculous frou-frou outfit she’ll wear only once before destroying but we’ll thoroughly enjoy seeing her in.
But it was her baby book that I wanted so it was the baby book that I got. Even though I am officially developing stretch marks and uber-dry skin, I’d prefer to get her baby book over getting any cream to alleviate my pregnant skin.
I love my own baby book and always have. My mom and (occasionally) dad diligently filled it up with every milestone and minor quirk I exhibited prior to the second grade. From it I learned that when I was a baby, my favorite characters on Sesame Street were Ernie and Bert and I liked to go to restaurants and order kitty cat fish and puppy dogs (translation: hush puppies). An envelope in the book holds a specimen of my fifteen-month-old hair: soft ringlets of light brown I chopped when I acquired some safety scissors. Tiny, soft hair. So strange.
There’s very little I can do with Bebe’s book as of yet since she’s, well, as-of-yet. She kicks and she stretches but there are no blanks in her book to record that minutiae. There is a spot for her first ultrasound – something ohsodifferent from my baby book from 1982. B and I agree that the images of our lima bean-sized baby from several months ago are a relic of those first few months of her incubation and can now be safety transplanted from the fridge door to the archives of the book. We’ve memorized those pictures, and as much as we cherish them, we can’t help but think that they are outdated memoirs of a tiny baby that is now massive by comparison. Hopefully, once she’s old enough to be curious about what she looked like as a tiny mass of cells, she’ll glean as much joy from looking at those pictures as we did, despite the fact that my name scrolls across the top of them, not hers.
What I can do is fill out our respective family trees in the book. That took about eighteen seconds and in an effort to use my absolute best penmanship, I made some embarrassing misspellings that will now need to be whited-out. Note to self: use a pencil whenever possible.
The book also contains “parent pages”, places where B and I are obliged to record our own favorite memories of childhood, how we personally felt when we learned of Bebe’s coming, our birthplaces, and our birthdates and astrological signs.* After providing these details, we are invited to affix a photo of ourselves on the next page.
*It annoys me that the book wastes two lines on both birthday AND astrological signs when they could just as easily be combined, but I supposed you have to sacrifice a few things when you find a really cute non-pink baby book.
I keep asking myself what kind of picture I should choose to represent myself in Bebe’s baby book. Should I screen it? Despite the fact that I look probably as happy and relaxed as I could possibly be in the photos of me taken at pubs in Korea, I don’t think I’m ironic enough to include one of those pictures.
She will always know what we look like based on the countless pictures we have of ourselves and hopefully by knowing us long into her own adulthood, but it seems as though we need to find baby-book appropriate photos of ourselves now to capture who we were at the time of her coming. The soft, babyish colors of the book set the tone for our photos to be just as soft, pensive, and playful as her own babyhood will doubtlessly be if the design scheme of the book is to be trusted. However, we’re not quite there yet. We are still essentially childless and completely unaware of the changes she will bring to our life. Trying to choose a picture that perfectly represents who we are at this transitional time in our lives is next to impossible.
Just like her first ultrasounds, these pictures should capture who we are now but may not have a lot of carry-over into the future except for the fact that we know that it’s us. However, just as I would probably never honestly hold it against her for growing out of her bean-state and into the person she’s going to become, I don’t think she’s going to hold it against us for not being the people we were just prior to her being born. We’re all going to grow up together.