Getting the Wrong Baby

All I have to do is see the rhododendron coming into bloom at the bottom of our garden every May and I find myself thinking about the grand arrival of our first (and only) baby on May 24, 1995.


I was about as unmaternal as is possible and certainly wasn’t one of those people who went around begging to be ‘let hold the new baby.’

I had a C-Section under general anesthetic, for medical reasons, and  got a bleary eyed glance at ‘baby’ shortly after he was born when I was hauled out of deep ‘sleep’ by a kindly nurse.

I was stunned by what I saw. He was more like a ‘little old man’ than a couple -of- minutes-old baby. If anything, he reminded me of  a leprechaun.

Some hours later, a nurse came bustling into the ward and thrust a little bundle, wrapped up in one of those white baby blankets, into my arms. One glance at a big baby face  and I felt a wave of absolute repulsion sweeping over me. I just about managed not to drop this alien on the floor.

As politely as possible, I explained that this wasn’t my little old man baby. I fumbled around on the alien’s wrist for the identity thingy but my vision was still a bit wonky and I couldn’t read it properly. By now, I’d handed the alien back to nurse who was checking the wristband against my chart at the end of the bed.

She let out a little squeak and hot-footed it out of the ward. It seemed like an eternity before she re-appeared with my ‘little leprechaun’ who snuggled up and met my gaze with a sense of belonging I can’t even begin to describe.





Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

13 thoughts on “Getting the Wrong Baby”

    1. No, true as true ~ all of it!
      Son and I laugh at it now as he got to know the other ‘baby’ over the years and we often wonder how it would have worked out if I had held on to him! I’ve never met the other guy since but I gather he’s really nice. Wouldn’t swop for the world!!!!!!!!!

  1. I was handed the wrong baby the day after my sons birth .I knew my fella was small 6 lbs with a mop of jet blacK hair and I was given a big fat faced baldy chap !i EVEnTUALLY RETRIEVED MY LITTLE ELF AND HANDED BACK THE MONSTER!

  2. This is such a great story Jean…. especially to share with your son! It makes me smile thinking about little old men babies. So true 🙂
    Its a beautiful photo of the rhodies though!
    Val x

    1. Hi Val, glad you ‘get it’ about ‘little old men’ babies. Strange how the look sort of evaporated within a week or so ….. It was almost like as if he was giving me a glimpse of a future I’m unlikely to see, as he looked very, verrrrrrrrrrrry old!

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