Switched at Birth

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This morning on FB, I came across a post that stated 12 newborns will be given to the wrong parents every day!  I think those numbers are completely unacceptable.   Sure I can understand once and a while…we are only human, we do make mistakes, but 12 EVERY DAY?  That borders on insanity, incompetence or those wishing to play God.

My Mother in Law had her child switched at birth…back in the 60’s right here in Maine, Augusta for that matter.  For 11.5 years, all of Melanie’s life she never questioned it, but always wondered why something seemed amiss in her heart.  Her thoughts on it later in life were a swap of convenience and perhaps looking out for the child born with spina bifida, since the family she was born to was poor and my Father in Law was making his way up the ranks at Kennebec Savings Bank with full coverage medical insurance.  Melanie was paralyzed from the waist down and my Mother in Law took care of her every second during those years.

My husband’s younger sister Celeste became a lab technician at Kennebec Valley Hospital in the late 70’s.  As life would have it happen, and through many conversations it turned out her supervisor was the head nurse at the births of Nannie Buttercup (my MIL) and this other woman who’d given birth to a baby with spina bifida. She told Celeste she would see what evidence she could find.  Things seemed to be progressing along, with names, addresses and some paperwork.  But shortly after the questions were posed this woman was let go from her job, paperwork disappeared and the hospital refused to ever answer any questions from thereafter.

Two weeks before my husband’s HS graduation, complications in her health caused Melanie to pass away, in the arms of her mother – biological or not did not matter.

A few years passed and we moved from Maine to the Keys, with Celeste also moving down as well. Only there a couple of months, waiting for us to arrive just before her 26th birthday she was hit by a drunk driver.  Nannie Buttercup was crushed.  Her joys in life, two times had been cruelly taken from her.

With Melanie and Celeste gone, Nannie really wanted some answers. She had DNA testing done, as she’d kept some of Melanie’s hair and sure enough they were not biologically the same.  So we went with the name and address info she’d kept and one summer on our visit from the Keys to Maine my husband and myself parked ourselves outside this tracked down woman’s apartment.  Waited a few hours and sure enough she came out.  We were completely aghast.  We were looking at a definite sister of my husband.  She was a mixture of my husband and his oldest sister, with lips that could have not been any other than a Cote’s.  Oh, and her 8 yr old son could have been a twin to our oldest son Jeremy.  It was weird and exciting and sad all in one moment.

Nannie contacted her, but the young woman was not interested in pursuing the possibilities.  Her mom had died when she was a young girl and she didn’t want to do anything to upset her father as his health was waning.

Nannie Buttercup died in 2011 never knowing the daughter rightfully hers, but couldn’t wait to once again see the daughters who’d left this life before her.  They say a parent is never supposed to outlive their children.  Knowing how my heart feels at the mere thought of ever losing one of my children and watching the beautiful soul of Nannie suffer so much when Celeste was killed, I know that statement could not be more true.  I’m sure both girls were waiting to greet this amazing woman when she left this life on earth into the realm they now occupied.  It was a beautiful reunion no doubt.

And I’m also sure, when the “other sister” leaves this world, Nannie Buttercup will be there to greet the daughter she carried for nine months and saw only once in the life here on earth.  It will be another beautiful reunion.

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11 thoughts on “Switched at Birth

  1. Holy cow that is SHOCKING!! If I ever have a child I’m having my husband take a picture IMMEDIATELY so we can compare when we see him/her again. How terrifying!!! I can’t even imagine the hurt and heartache. May they all rest in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it though Morgan? I so agree, pictures immediately and as one young nurse mom in Florida commented, they have wrist bands that chime when mom and baby reunite each time. Thank you for your kind words.

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  2. Sue Altshuler Norton says:

    Kathie- what an amazing story – I spent many years at the Cote’s with Celeste…. and grieved for both sisters. thanks for sharing this – Peace

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for sharing about Celeste, Sue. That’s really lovely to hear. She’s never far from our hearts either. And you’re so right, Melanie was loved by all. Very special souls for sure.

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  3. Beth Folsom says:

    My name is Beth Folsom. Celeste was my best friend in grade school. The strength this family has had after all their losses never ceases to amaze me. I am deeply touched by your story, and am now remembering a few conversations will Cel regarding this. She was wise beyond her years. I have tried to make sense of all the tragedies they have had to endure. Now to hear about this. It is very hard to wrap my mind around and but again they endure. This is truly a remarkable family and I cherish the years I spent with them. I am blessed to have known each one of them.

    blessing to you all

    love, Beth

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Beth, Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this. I hope you are well. We were all pretty blown away by the story when it Nannie Buttercup shared it with us. And then all that transpired during that time was quite surreal. Still is. Do take care!

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  4. Susan Altshuler Norton says:

    Celeste was a wonderful friend of mine for many years – I loved spending time at the Cote’s growing up – our group of friends still talks about her often – this story is just amazing. Melanie was well loved by all –

    Liked by 1 person

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