I had such an odd moment today. A friend–whose son has been in the same daycare as Carlos since they were tiny babies–emailed me a photo. Her message said, “That’s Carlos, right?”
I double clicked the attachment and recognized her son instantly. Then I looked at the other two babies and had a moment of panic. Um…I think that’s my baby… yes….but I can only see his profile and his feet… no?…I don’t recognize that onesie…but it’s Brasilian colors so that must be him.
With a big dose of guilt, I replied, “YES!” But I worried that I had picked the wrong baby. What if she emailed me back and said, “Oops! I sent you the wrong picture! Here’s the one with Carlos…”
The moment took me back to the night after he was born when I let the nurse take him to the nursery so I could get a few hours of sleep. He made a tiny clicking noise with every breath for about 24 hours (until his lungs cleared out). I couldn’t turn my mom radar off and not hear it, so I hadn’t had any rest. The nurse took him for a few hours while I napped.
But I woke up having a panic attack. It was about 2 a.m. G had gone home to sleep. The unit was quiet and dark. My heart raced like it was going to leave and go find my baby. My skin prickled with anxiety and every part of me flushed to 104 degrees in an instant. I couldn’t get a breath. I didn’t want to trouble anyone so I sat on the side of the bed and tried to calm myself.
After a while, the feelings weren’t going away, so I wandered down the hall to the newborn nursery. Two nurses worked with the fresh babies. A couple of babies lay swaddled in bassinets. The door was locked so I had to knock on the window. Up popped my friend, Amy, one of the lactation consultants. I’m so glad it was her because I didn’t feel stupid when I said, “I’m feeling really anxious and I need to see my baby.” One of the nurses said, “He’s just starting to wake up. Let me change his diaper for you and check him out.” Amy sat me down in a rocking chair and brought me a little ginger ale with a bendy straw. Then she gave me a back rub and a few pats on the head. I started to relax. She and I talked for a few minutes, until I started to feel like myself again.
That’s when the nurse came back over and said, “He’s all fixed up and ready to go!” Then she went back to her tasks.
There were two bassinets by the window. Each bore a blue card that proclaimed, “I’m a breastfed boy!” Two swaddled bundles with little white knit caps. I walked slowly…squinting to try to make out the names. What if I picked the wrong one? The anxiety came flooding back because I couldn’t find my baby. Then I realized that I was looking for HIS last name and the card had MY last name on it. Duh. I found my baby.
Have you ever had a moment like that? One where you think you’re watching your kid on the playground then you realize that your kid is standing next to the one you were watching? You look into the crowd at Pump It Up and can’t recall what clothes they were wearing when the party started? I’ve had moments where I stood at the one-way mirrored window at daycare, searching for a dark head in the sea of blondes.
Now I look at the picture that my friend sent of our boys and I can’t NOT see Carlos. His lips are the same. The curve of his ear. Those are the shiny brown eyes that gazed up into mine while I fed him. Even the side of his foot is familiar to me. Every cell of his body, part of me.
So strange. He’s my very own heart, walking around outside my body but I can’t always recognize it.