You discover that your wonderful one-year-old child is, because of a mix-up at the hospital, not yours. Would you want to exchange the child to correct the mistake?
After doting on and loving a baby, any baby, but especially one you believe is a part of you, for a whole year to then be told it doesn’t really belong to you? Ouch! That would be a major shock, wouldn’t it?! The bond between a mother and child after a year is iron clad, and not something easily broken. This would be a heartbreaking situation to find yourself in.
I researched “babies switched at birth” and discovered that it does happen occasionally but not often. Hospitals take fingerprints, foot prints, or palm prints of newborns in order to prevent babies being mixed up. Nurses also double check with the mother, checking the identity of that person as well, in order to prevent errors. Hospitals also have policies in which a medical record number is assigned to an infant at birth, and bands with this number as well as the last name of the mother of the infant, the gender of the infant, and the date and time of birth are placed on the infant and the mother immediately after parturition before the mother and child are separated. And yet I still found a few cases of this happening despite the policies. Mistakes were made and when they were discovered the hospitals were sued.
What struck me most when I read about these cases was for some reason the majority of these mix-ups were not discovered until years later. In most cases the mothers all had a feeling early on that something wasn’t right but were convinced by hospital staff that they were mistaken and everything was as it should be. Listen to your inner voice, believe in your intuition!
So, would I exchange the child after a year to correct the mistake? Yes, I would. It would probably be the hardest thing I would ever have to do but for the sake of both children I would. Again, after reading about stories where this really did happen, the saddest part, once the truth was discovered, was how the children themselves often felt. Some discuss having the feeling that something wasn’t quite right and the feeling that they didn’t quite fit in. One woman, when she found out the truth at 43 years old, felt like her whole life up until then had been a lie and now she felt torn between two families.
I would have a very hard time giving up a baby I had loved so deeply for a year but I would also want to be the one to raise my own child. If faced with this scenario I think I would ask that I still be allowed to continue a relationship with the other child too.
My daughter Emilie was one of 50 babies born at North York General Hospital in Toronto on June 12, 19……… not tellin’. I’m a very trusting person and it never occurred to me to worry that she might accidentally get switched with another half Asian/half Caucasian baby girl. The security on the maternity ward was unlike anything I could have imagined, and I remember having to go through at least two check points where our hospital bracelets were scrutinized before the staff would allow us to leave the floor.
I know an awful lot of bonding takes place in the first few years of life but I have to say, if this terrible situation happened to me, I’d want to get my biological child back. It definitely would be heart-wrenching to give up a child I’d cared for and loved for a year, but I believe it would be the right thing to do. Truthfully, I’d want to keep both babies, but I guess that wouldn’t be fair. I wouldn’t be able to handle someone else raising my child due to hospital error. I would hope that the other family would feel the same way and really, in a perfect world, we could all be part of an extended family group.
PS. I have a teenager I’d be willing to trade for …let’s say… a 21 year old right now, if anyone’s interested? : )
Tracy gives back ~
I remember being concerned about this with my first child. I wanted to be awake during my C-section because I had heard of this happening. Lets call it first child paranoia. I remember my Mom telling me in the operating room when the ID band was secure on my son’s wrist. I think she may have double checked to make sure it couldn’t slip off. My son was the spitting image of his Dad so no one could have made a switch with us not be aware of it. He was also 10 lbs 3 oz and the other babies in the nursery were triplets, with the largest one weighing in at a whopping 5 lbs. The nurses nicknamed my son baby sumo because he looked 3 months old at birth. Any other Mom would have felt ripped off had my son been sent home with them by mistake, kind of like getting a puppy at 6 months old.
I can’t imagine having to actually go through this in real life. Unfortunately it has happened, more than once. This topic made me reflect back on the first year with both my son and daughter. Time goes by so quickly, and the first year is monumental for bonding with your baby. I would have to take the perspective that I was a surrogate to this child for the year we spent together. I am certain the mother of the child I was given would absolutely want their child back, as would I. I would have complete confidence that she gave my child unconditional love. When you have natural motherly instincts you love all children. I can’t imagine not loving ‘a’ child no matter whose they were if I were responsible for it’s welfare.
All children are special and unique. I would want to make the change gradually so that both children were able to adjust as naturally as possible. I think that the babies would sense a mistake with how they are known to recognizes a mothers smell and and how they react to the sound of their mothers voice from having heard it from inside the womb. A mother’s love is pure and unconditional so I know that after spending time with my child everything would be just fine in no time. I would hope that after an experience such as this you would form a friendship with the other mother that I would last a life time. Everything happens for a reason and I would just embrace it for what it was.