“Does she have a big nose?”
My husband and I stared at the printed ultrasound photos from our 20-week scan to try and suss out what our baby would look like.
“That’s not her nose, that’s the umbilical cord.”
“Coming out of her face? I don’t think so.”
I spent the next 20 weeks waiting to see if my dulcet darling would emerge looking like a pint-sized Jimmy Durante.
We expect newborns to resemble gelatinous mushballs, with squishy, wrinkly faces and unfurled limbs. But as the months progress, their faces fill out, they get rounder, and by the three-month mark are downright cherubic, at least in the eyes of the beholder.
I did not expect my baby girl to look like Orson Welles. But there it was.
Let me be clear: my baby daughter was the most beautiful thing I’d ever laid eyes on. But there was no doubt that the person she resembled most was not me, nor my husband, nor any set of grandparents. It was Orson Welles. And not The Third Man Orson Welles, where he had roguish if slightly stocky good looks. My baby was Touch of Evil’s Hank Quinlan, complete with bad comb-over, portly chub, and jowls. Really, really cute jowls.
My husband thought she looked more like an old Marlon Brando, which I found upsetting. “Can’t she at least resemble a young Marlon Brando, before he got fat?”
“Have you seen this baby?” he replied. “I tried to put a onesie on her and it was like stuffing a sausage into a casing.” He saw the look on my face. “A really, really cute sausage.”
Hmmph. I put her to bed before she could make us an offer we couldn’t refuse.
If my husband and I, the doting parents, think our baby resembles an old-timey male actor, what do others think? When family members say she looks like my husband, do they mean she looks like a 40-year-old man? My friends claim that my daughter is cute, angelic, adorable . . . the same words that can be used to describe a French bulldog or an Oompa Loompa. When someone calls her “precious,” do they mean like in the movie Precious?
While out for a walk with our respective babies, I asked my friend Lori, “Does my baby look like Orson Welles?”
“Oh, no he doesn’t! He’s adorable! Look at those cheeks, I just want to pinch them.”
“SHE! I have a DAUGHTER!!!”
Lori glanced into my stroller. “Lord Almighty, put a goddamn bow on her or something. It looks like you birthed ‘Citizen Kane.’”
So I started bedazzling my baby. Doesn’t work. No matter how many headbands I stick on her head, how many pink tulle dresses I put on her, or sequined blankets I swaddle her in, strangers still stop me on the street to tell me how cute my son is.
Last week, my infant sat on the floor in her purple-footed pajamas, trying to wedge an entire stuffed bunny into her mouth. Her hair was wispy from static, and her big brown eyes widened when I entered the room. “She looks like Buddy Hackett,” I whispered to my visiting brother.
“I have no idea who that is. Was he in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”
“That’s Bob Hoskins.”
“Wow, your daughter totally looks like Bob Hoskins. She even has a rabbit sidekick!”
But the thing about babies is that no matter which fat middle-aged celebrity they resemble, they’re still adorable. Those cheeks! That tummy! That 5 o’clock shadow! And as time passes, my daughter may emerge from her chrysalis looking like a radiant Audrey Hepburn. Well, probably not Audrey Hepburn. Maybe Phyllis Diller. I’d even settle for a young Orson Welles.
And that’s fine. Orson Welles married Rita Hayworth. And won an Oscar. My daughter could do worse.