One of my favorite stories from the time Mariah spent in the NICU is about some confusion the nurses had over Mariah’s skin color. When Mariah was born, she was a little purplish-looking. I’ve never birthed a biracial baby before, so I assumed Costa Rican babies came out a little more plum-colored than the average white kid. The not-so-comical part of the story is that Mariah was purple because her blood was septic and her collapsed lung was preventing good oxygen flow to her blood. Sadly, she was purple from bad blood.
At the time, everyone assumed with me that she was just going to be dark like her daddy. Albin’s not super dark; but he’s clearly Latino, and if you leave him in the sun too long (even with SPF 90 sunscreen), he claims that he turns so black that he’s blue (what does that even mean?). Anyway, my point is, she was dark and her hair was dark at first too. After we made it through the part of us almost losing her and then her miraculous recovery, she had to stay in the hospital for a while to finish the strong intravenous antibiotic she was prescribed. She was taken off the respirator and all the other monitors, tubes, and IVs had been discontinued.
As I arrived one morning to start my all-day vigil at her bedside, I noticed that she was hooked up to several monitors again. My heart plummeted and my out-of-control emotions took over and gave me a drippy nose and watery eyes. I shakily went to ask the nurse what had happened to Mariah overnight and here is how our conversation proceeded:
Me: Why is Mariah hooked up to all the monitors again? (Sniffle)
Nurse: Because she got a little white during the night.
Me: White?! Like white skin?
Nurse: Yes, white. Very white skin.
Nurse: Well we thought maybe she was having oxygen problems or blood pressure issues and that’s why she turned white.
Me: Did you find any problems with her oxygen or blood pressure?
Nurse: No. It is so weird. Everything is perfectly fine. She is just so white.
Me (starting to smile): So her blood is getting better and she is turning white?
Me (cracking up): Have you seen her mother? Real white.
Nurse (starting to laugh): Do you think she’s just white like you? That would explain a lot actually. We don’t see a lot of bright white babies in here so it was a little surprising.
Me (thinking): If you want to see bright white, you should see my booty.
Turns out, my biracial kid is white with light hair. Everyone tells me she looks like a white Albin. I’m just thankful her blood is in good shape. The nurses and I had the rare chance to burst into laughter that day, and it was moments like those that kept me sane. We never would have thought that the healthier Mariah became, the lighter her skin would be. The good news is that she tans well because I can’t imagine the amount of money I would spend on sunscreen in CR if she was still as bright white as my rear.