Moms who nearly left hospital with wrong babies meet again
MARSHALLS CREEK, Pa. — Caroline Verkaik, then 36, was living in Passaic, New Jersey, when she got the word. About to give birth, a big storm was approaching and she needed to get to the hospital quickly. It was Feb 10, 2006.
Her daughter was born healthy, but because of a cesarean section, Verkiak only got to see her daughter for a moment. Verkaik then got to see her in the nursery briefly afterwards.
The following morning, Feb. 11, Verkaik said a nurse brought the baby to her in her room to breast feed. Something seemed to be wrong.
“I looked at the baby, and I was like, there was something telling me this wasn’t my baby,” she said. “I told the nurse, ‘I don’t think this is my baby,’ and she said the crib had her name and that since I had a C-section maybe I didn’t get a good look at her.”
Something didn’t seem right to Verkaik. She rocked her baby and saw the bracelet on the baby’s ankle didn’t match hers. She showed it to the nurse.
“She had this panic look and took the baby and left the room,” Verkaik said. “I followed her. We entered to the nursery and there weren’t any more babies there. I was panicking.”
The nurse struggled to reason with how a mistake could have been made. The nurse said there were only six babies and mothers, Verkaik recalled.
“So where’s my baby?” Verkaik asked, and the nurse said, ‘Don’t worry about it, we will get your baby.’ We went to two different rooms, and none of those were my baby.”
One of the nurses said there’s a family that’s supposed to check out today and Verkaik instantly became even more alarmed.
Oh no, my baby has left the hospital, she thought.
“We go into this room and there’s a baby packed and ready to go,” Verkaik said. “Their bags were packed and it looked like they were about to leave. The nurse walked in and said, ‘Oh my God, I’m sorry, I think you have the wrong baby.’ And so the wife was like, ‘what?’”
She stayed in the hospital for two more days before going home.
“I’m chocolate, I’m from Kenya and she didn’t look anything like me. But my husband has blonde hair and blue eyes,” Verkaik said. Still, the uncertainty lingered.
Verkaik said she saw the little girl’s face and knew that was her baby.
“The tags said it is mine,” Verkaik said. “The woman said it is mine, and the nurse showed her the tags and woman said, ‘Oh!’”
The mothers switched the babies, but still, there was an air of uncertainty. Maybe the cribs had it right. Verkaik just wasn’t sure.
The Verkaiks felt that something wasn’t right. They called the hospital, asking for the name of the other family. The hospital said it couldn’t provide it. But time, it turned out, told the real story.
“As my daughter grew, she started looking like her older half-sister and we were like, oh my God, I think we have the right baby,” Verkaik said. “For five years we were worried maybe we had the wrong baby.”
Jump forward 11 years.
Verkaik moved to Marshalls Creek and was recently called to participate in a Tannersville fashion show, Red Shoe for Business Women. She had been in constant contact with a woman named Maria DeLuca of Henryville, who was helping coordinate the show.
A few days ago the two began trading histories — both had moved to the area in 2006, came from Passaic, and had given birth to daughters at St. Mary’s General Hospital in Passaic.
“Then I asked her when her baby was born. Don’t say Feb. 10,” Verkaik said.
“Maria said Feb. 10 and I started screaming. Are you the lady who almost took my baby home?” She said, ‘Oh my God, I have been looking for you.’” Both women began crying.
DeLuca told Verkaik she kept considering blood work to confirm maternity, but both women were afraid of finding out. When asked, the daughters, both 11, said they didn’t know what they would do if they found out they were switched at birth.
“All I was thinking of was how many people have taken home the wrong baby and never confirmed it,” Verkaik said.