A woman, dressed in scrubs, walked into the maternity ward, took a baby from its mother “to return it to the nursery,” and left the hospital with it. It took months to find the child.
This was the incident that made the hospitals in our area enact strict procedures for visitors checking in and out of the maternity, constant badge checks of nurses and doctors, etc. None of that allayed my fear that someone would snatch my child.
Before going to the hospital, I made my husband promise that he would Not Let The Baby Out of His Sight. Ever.
He did not want to agree to this, but knew that I could not deal with one more fear, rational or not.
I hadn’t planned for a hospital birth, and was already terrified of the c-section which was required to get my son out (he was breech and quite literally stuck, having somehow hooked his foot under my pelvic bone).
So, as they were sewing up his wife, he reluctantly but dutifully left the room so our son would not be out of his sight.
When he walked into the recovery room, without my baby, before I could say a word, he exclaimed, “It’s okay. Your mom is with him. I told her not to let him out of her sight.” She didn’t.
We made it out of the hospital several days later without ever having lost sight of our child, so, even if he had not been the only newborn in the building with bright red hair, we would have no doubt that, not only had he not been kidnapped, but that he had not been switched with another baby.
Fast forward about three years. It was beginning to dawn on me that all mothers find their own children exceptionally beautiful, even the ones who the rest of the world can see are mistaken.
So when the mother of a preschool classmate asked, “Do you worry a lot about your children being kidnapped?” I tried to sound nonchalant, and lied, “I try to be cautious, but, no, I don’t obsess over it.”
It seemed the prudent thing to say, so her reply shocked me. “If I were you, I would worry all the time. Your sons are so beautiful. They look exactly like the sort of children who kidnappers want.”
Yikes! I had been right to worry those past three years! My sons really were the ones who would be the most likely prey for kidnappers wanting to sell off healthy, beautiful toddlers.
As you may have guessed, my children never were kidnapped. Whether that is because I remained hypervigilant or because they really weren’t exceptionally desirable targets we will never know.
Now, it all seems funny. Good stories of a new mom, so in love with her children that she was convinced that any lurking kidnapper would, of course, prefer her sons to every other child on the playground.
The reality of kidnapping is very different. One of my friends experienced it this week.
She and her eleven year old were taken at gunpoint, although she was released soon afterward. You can read her story here. I promise it has a happy ending.