Between toting my son to a holiday work party to showing his picture off to a few work people here and there, I've gotten some interesting reactions of late. It always the begins the same: they look at my son carefully, he with his dark hair and prominent, dark eyebrows, a near-spitting image of Mr. S, and then they look back at me, even more carefully, with my lighter hair (dyed, people!) and plucked eyebrows (I promise they used to be formidable before the transgressions of my youth) and then back again. And you immediately see the wheels turning. A great majority of the time they make a remark like, "Wow. He must look just like his father" (translation: he doesn't look anything like you)
It gives me pause. It doesn't bother me because this is not an insult. In my humble opinion, my kid is off-the-charts adorable. But for a split second I remind myself that, no, they did not mix up the egg in the lab (this has actually been a running joke since he birth) and I have more than enough proof of this that isn't immediately obvious. But why do I feel the need to remind myself? Why do I feel the need to call to mind his eye color, his chin, his cheeks, the way his skin is almost translucent when he's cold? (yes, an unfortunate reality for my Mom and I as well) Ah, IVF is a funny thing...(and people's obsessions about the visual expression of genetics is even weirder...)
And then I instantly wonder what this exchange will be like when my child actually does not have a genetic connection to me. Will I be released of this odd, split-second need to remind to myself that my genes really are hidden there, somewhere? Or will their inspections actually discomfort me more than they do? I guess I always figured it would roll off my back, but perhaps I am being naïve. I might have some thick skin and a few canned catch phrases to develop before the day comes.
And then there's this: what if I learned tomorrow that they HAD actually mixed up the egg and that my son did not have my genetics after all? Would that change how I feel about him? Without hesitation I would give a resounding, "no." It wouldn't change a single thing about our relationship. It would certainly bring up questions and concerns about a health heredity I know nothing about (and most notably my clinic's competence--oh, how I would question that!), but as far as how I think and feel about him, how I parent, it wouldn't change things in the least. So, I know that if I can say this for certain about him, I can say it with near certainty for a future child.