Please note: this story was provided by the author and published as is.
When you work in the Labor & Delivery ward for as long as I have, everyone assumes you love babies. I don’t love babies. I like them enough. And maybe at one point, I loved babies, but it’s the mothers who really ruined it for me.
The self-righteous, know-it-all new moms who, 24 hours before walking onto my floor had never held a baby in their life, but now with breasts full of milk and a bleeding uterus, can confidently say all of us child-less people just don’t understand the bond between a baby and their mother. That “instant connection that forms”. It’s so primal and unmistakable. They can never describe it because they insist it’s unknowable… unknowable until you do it yourself.
The goddamn superiority they hold over you. It’s like the second they push out those lumps of gooey flesh they become part of another class of humans. And it’s them vs us. The mothers… and the childless who can’t possibly ever know real joy. Oh sure, we may think we are happy but that’s because we don’t know better.
It’s such antiquated bullshit. And even the most liberal, progressive, I-marched-for-women’s-rights-feminists do it. They might not SAY as much, but it never fails. They ask me if I have kids while they’re holding their freshly washed offspring, and when I say no, I can always feel their pity. “A woman so old with nothing to show for her life.” Never mind I had a fulfilling career, traveled the world, had hobbies, and slept a full 8 hours every night. They feel sorry that I haven’t looked into the eyes of something I have created and known “true and unconditional love.”
They’re just babies. Whatever you were before, you’re still that same shitty version of you – now with less sleep and a whole ‘nother person you’re gonna’ teach all your bad behaviors to. Congratulations. These moms look into the eyes of their babies like they’re going to change the world. Well, I hate to break it to you ladies – I’ve been doing this long enough that I can promise you, 999 times out of a thousand, you’re kid’s gonna’ grow up, get mediocre grades, then a job they’ll probably hate going into every day. They’ll litter and lie and become just as average as you are.
So, it’s the moms I take issue with. I’m not trying to hurt the babies. And I don’t. What I do… what I have done… doesn’t affect them long term, I’m sure. Because despite what these moms think, there isn’t anything special about them or their precious bond. All these moms, just like all these babies, are equally average. So, it’s not hurting anyone. I’m just trying to prove a point.
Though, it’s a point I won’t be able to prove until after I am gone. I won’t be there when my letter is read. When you – whoever you are – have the burden of deciding what to do with it. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to be there. But this isn’t the kind of secret that can be shared while I am alive. Unless I wanna’ be out of work forever… or maybe even go to jail. No, this is the kind of secret you take with you to your grave.
Though I do want people to know what I’ve done. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have kept such detailed records.
Along with this letter, I’m including one other file on the flash drive. An excel spreadsheet where I kept detailed records of all the babies I swapped. For each child, you’ll find their birth name, date of birth, Mother’s name, and room number.
At of the time of writing this, I’ve swapped 436 babies over the 26 years I’ve been a labor and delivery nurse.
My notes are meticulous. What people do with them after I am gone is up to you. I know I won’t be around to see any of their faces… Heck some of them might not even be around either. But I’ve spent countless hours imagining what they’ll think and say and do if they do ever learn the truth. Some of them will be in denial, think I lied for attention because little Johnny is the spitting image of his daddy. “Our Haley-Grace has the same birthmark as her mama!” It’s impossible of course. There isn’t a speck of their DNA in that child if they actually did a test. But their pride won’t let them believe it. They were so smug.
But even for the ones that won’t get the DNA test – who will pretend they never heard my story – the ones who will actively run from it… I’ll keep them up at night. They’ll think of all the times they breastfed a baby that wasn’t theirs. That feeling they’ve fostered every single day, even as their kid grew up to be an average little shit who failed their expectations. They still felt pride because they were theirs… “a part of them”. What does it mean now that they know they’re not? They’re going to love them of course. I’m adopted myself, I had great parents who really did love me. I’m not saying they won’t love the kids. It’s actually going to kill them to know they could be taken from them, or that their kids might have questions about them someday. Maybe they’ll want to find their birth mother.
I wonder if some of them will make excuses, blame the less desirable parts of who their kids turned into on those other people’s genes, and daydream about how their perfect child probably got ruined by some other family.
I know people will hate me. Because I took a baby from their mother! “Oh God, how could I? Do you know how precious that bond is?!”
But that’s the damn point, isn’t it? None of them knew. When they asked me if I had kids and then pitied me for my answer, it took everything in me not to laugh. THAT’S NOT YOUR BABY LATCHED TO YOUR BREAST. Your baby’s down the hall feeding off an equally annoying new mother.
I don’t know how many times I’ll do this. I’m edging close to retirement and each time I say it will be the last… but on days like today… a day when two little girls were born at almost the same time, and they look so darn similar…
The mom in 204 asked me if I had kids. So maybe just one more.