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IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
15 December 2006
I've given birth to five children, so I feel particularly qualified to make this statement. Newborns are not "cute." Newborns of any species are not "cute." They are born wet, with their faces scrunched in, they may have misshapen heads from pressure through the birth canal. Their eyes are squinted tightly and they come out screaming.
I know that "baby" is supposed to equal "cute," but let's be brutally honest: a brand new, fresh-from-the-womb baby is not cute.
But you have to take this new life to your heart, perhaps to your breast, and you have to give it sustenance which will permit it to live and grow, and Mother Nature is a crafty old broad.
You hold this ugly, squirmy thing in your arms and a magical transformation begins to take place. Slowly the feature begin to smooth out, to soften, the wiggling stops. The eyes open and they look at you and suddenly you realize you are holding the most beautiful baby in the world.
Strangers come to call and they all lie and tell you how beautiful the newborn is, while mentally they are trying to decide whether the kid looks like Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower, or W.C. Fields. They may spend time with you, perhaps hold the baby because that's what all visitors want to do. They take this not very good looking brand new life into their arms and begin to cuddle it and suddenly the magical transformation happens again. This is a beautiful baby. A cute baby. Why hadn't you seen it before?
It's an illusion worthy of Davis Copperfield.
All you have to do to realize the magic that happens with babies is to look at the animal species. Baby orangutans, chimpanzees, or gorillas, for example, are not beautiful from an aesthetic perspective. But the longer you look at them the more you are taken in by the round, trusting eyes, the helplessness as they wave their arms around trying to get their bearings and explore their new world. As you watch the newborns interact with their mothers, suddenly you're saying "awwww" with everyone else standing around the cage. They are beautiful, cute little things.
I have a confession to make. The day the Christmas puppies arrived, I didn't instantly love them. I had said goodbye to...
...and I was now the mother of...
The new puppies looked like drowned rats, their eyes were squeezed tightly shut. They also didn't know instinctively how to eat. If I had been a four-footed furry mother with several teats we would have been fine, but I had a finger to suck and a syringe with milk and they had to learn what to do with both.
I didn't love them. They weren't cute. But they were a responsibility and I began to take care of them.
I fought with them to take the syringe. I wiped the milk off their faces and paws when it squirted all over them. I wiped their little anuses to get them to poop like they should, and I put them back in the cage to huddle together in a big lump until the next time for a meal.
Something happened overnight last night.
Walt and I have developed a routine for feeding the puppies. Walt loves bonding with them too, but isn't good at feeding them, so he gets the puppies out of the cage, one at a time, and cuddles one while I'm feeding one, then we switch puppies, he puts the fed puppy back in the cage and gets the next one to be fed and cuddles it until I'm ready.
The puppies had gone several hours without eating last night (lovely puppies) so I would have had a straight night of sleep if some idiot grown up dog, who shall remain nameless, but whose name begins with an "S," hadn't decided she wanted to go outside at 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. and woke me both times by licking my nose and pawing my arm until I got up. Grrr.
Because it had been several hours since their last meal, these were very hungry puppies. Usually Rudolph is the easiest to feed but I have to fight with Dasher and Dancer and do all sorts of work-arounds to get the milk into them, generally with a lot of choking faces on the part of the puppies who don't like the size of the finger I insert into their mouths (Dancer would prefer to create an unbreakable suction-of-death onto the edge of my finger, which makes it all but impossible to get any milk into her at all).
For some reason, probably extreme hunger, they all latched on and sucked well on my finger and took the usual amount of milk without any battle at all. When they finished eating, they naturally folded into the "sitting-up-for-a-burp" position that I use, which they had been fighting. They pooped on command and then they fell asleep, slumped over onto my hand.
I looked more closely at them again, one by one. Why hadn't I noticed it before? These are very cute little puppies.
Featured Holidailies Entry: Santa Baby, by Wicked Jaw
PHOTO OF THE DAY
This is entry #2451