Raising Harley

Harley had her name months before we found out I was pregnant. When I found out I was having a girl, it was like the universe had nodded in agreement with my plans. My partner and I spent countless nights imagining what she’d be like, who she’d take after, whose eyes would she have. It was pretty exciting stuff!

At midnight on 8 February, my water broke. I was already in hospital, as she weighed a whopping 4.5kg and was scheduled to be delivered via C-section the following day. Harley decided she wanted to come on her own terms. One hour and 40 minutes of labour (I begged the doctor to kill me and said I wouldn’t mind!) and I gave birth to the most perfect human being I’d ever laid eyes on.

“When her father was eventually allowed to see us, the first thing he asked was “Why is she so white?”

Less than two hours after giving birth I was up to feed my baby, but I couldn’t bring myself to touch her. She looked like a porcelain doll. That’s when it hit me … why was my child so white? I don’t mean light in complexion, but white-white! Her dad is fair-ish with green eyes, but this baby was super white. When her father was eventually allowed to see us, the first thing he asked was “Why is she so white?” We were 100% certain she was ours … but in an unexpected hue.

My mother was of Scottish descent, but my dad was from the Islands, so my siblings and I were various shades of brown. My partner’s parents were both a darker complexion with him looking like his grandad (of Dutch heritage) and we’d sort of worked it out that she would at least have a brown tint. We thought that it would probably come at a later stage and went on with our lives.

During my discharge from hospital, the doctor asked why my child was so “pale” and I just shrugged. Security quadruple-checked if she was ours (I honestly don’t blame them). We thought it was funny, until we realised that she was not getting her “tint” and people would always ask if we were her parents. I remember sitting with Harley in the clinic, waiting my turn like all the moms, with this perfect little porcelain doll with big green eyes, looking and feeling like an au pair. The clinic sister asked me if she is my child, I kid you not. It didn’t end there; I ‘ve gotten looks, heard whispers – it’s been quite amusing. I’ve had to explain my heritage more than the National Museum. My friends joke someone is still going to report me for kidnapping because of the looks some people give us.

Nonetheless, it’s been a wonderful experience. Harley is just so beautiful. I find myself staring at her and marvelling that I actually had a hand in making this perfect porcelain doll. (Still hoping she gets a ‘tint’!)

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