My wife and I have 3 children, with 11 years between our 2nd and 3rd child. They are 18, 16, and 5.
My youngestwas born 6 or 7 weeks premature. So he was very small when he was born, and he struggled to breathe because his lungs weren't fully developed. They took him immediately from the operating room to the neonatal ICU. After the c-section I went to find him. The nurse led me to a baby boy, but in ways I can't explain, I knew immediately that he wasn't mine. In the same moment, somewhere I could hear my son crying. I don't know how, I just knew it. It hurt me too. Physically I felt pain to hear that child crying.
I pointed at the boy before me and said to the nurse, "He's not mine." She looked at the wristbands and insisted it was my son (it turned out she'd read the bands wrong), and I told her I was going to find him, and I left her in the dust. I was moving fast, going through the nursery, looking for him. "You can't do that," she called from behind me.
The nursery was like a maze, with a lot of turns, and I went through it hearing that baby crying, only the sound growing louder, and then I turned one more time and there before me, I knew, was my son: skinny, laboring to breathe, but calling out to me. Or maybe for me, or maybe he was just "telling the news," as my father would've said. I knew that voice though, like something from a lifetime together.
I turned to the angry nurse and said, "This is my boy," and I pointed down at him. I didn't see a name card but I knew he was mine. She gave me a mean look and checked his arm band and mine a couple times, and then she said in a quiet voice, "Oh you're right," and she left us to meet each other.
So the question is a simple one: how do we know the voices of our children? Sometimes, we're just required to believe.