As in…maybe they’re not yours after all….
I know mothers sometimes wonder if the child is really theirs. How do I know? It happened to me. So, I encourage all new parents to realize: If you do wonder, you’re not alone.
Forty-one years ago, this summer, I was wheeled into the birthing wing of a local hospital. There was only one other woman in there, behind curtains, and she was screaming her lungs out. She was in the final throes of labor, the part just before actual birth when the pregnant woman damns her husband (or co-conspirator) …the part where she’s begging for that episiotomy (with drugs, first, of course.)
I heard her…the entire hospital did.
She screamed withering blasts at her husband (“Get away from me!”) including just about anyone else in her zone (“I want drugs to stop this pain!”) It was a terrible early introduction to me of what would soon be coming…
I was on that runway, knowing I was next. I knew, too: I’d act similarly.
We were in the days just before the national movement of birthing “au naturel.” No one brought their labor coach in, to advise them how to breathe. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, for me. My own labor took a most peculiar turn.
I recall the nurse standing by a machine, monitoring my contractions, saying: “Woah, look at these (like I might be mildly-interested, as any stranger would)…They don’t build (to a crescendo)…They spike right away.”
I didn’t need to look: I was having the dizzying-height contractions that leapt up to the stratosphere, right away, and then came down, leaving me a whimpering mass of jello.
I knew only one thing: It wasn’t supposed to go like that.
When I asked for drugs to stop the madness, staff said “Oh, no, we can’t give you anything yet…You’ll not be able to push when we need you to.” I think it was then that I started swearing.
When that didn’t work, I think I even offered up my baby for adoption.
You see, I know: I’m not brave…That’s why I never talk ill of those who crack under torture, as political prisoners do. Bring out the water boards and I’m ‘fessing up.
These labor paroxysms left me no time to breathe. All I could do was hang on. It was a roller-coaster ride from Hell….
Fortunately, for me, labor only lasted 6 hours (Did I really say ONLY?).
Then, they wheeled me into the delivery room. Now, they’d give me the miracle drugs that would make all the pain go away.…I welcomed them.
Some time later, I awoke to find it was all over. My baby was born. They brought her into me, a tiny little thing swaddled in blankets, wrapped tight to simulate the womb. She was 6 lbs., 8 ozs., registering 9 on the Apgar scale (I called it the Richter scale.)
Only problem? My baby didn’t look anything like me…or anyone in my family.
She had jet black hair that nurses combed in a curlicue; her eyes were almond-shaped. All in all, I thought her Asian-looking. I couldn’t, for the life of me, see any similarity between this child and me, and I whispered, internally: “Oh, my God, they mixed up the babies…This child’s not mine.”
But reason took hold: I knew that the other woman and I were the only ones in the birthing wing that night, and she was hours ahead of me in the process, so I knew—logically– this child had to be mine.
Why’d she look so different? Her father’s native-American heritage won out. In the months to come, her black hair fell out, and white-blonde hair replaced it. In short, she began to look more like my family and her Irish/English forebears.
Today, in hospitals all across America, a mix-up is possible, for there’ve been countless accounts of that very thing happening.
“Is this baby REALLY mine?” might be a question plaguing some parents, shortly after birth.
That question will grow more urgent in the terrible teen years, when suspicions really take hold, for it’s then that parents can’t imagine that kid is their offspring….
**Here’s a link that shows how these things can happen….But, be assured: There’s 99% chance that child IS yours (especially with today’s safeguards)…Now, wait til the teen years when you’ll be trying to give him/her away….