By Stephanie Emma Pfeffer
April 27, 2015 12:00 PM

Her Crushing Goodbye

“Can I help you?” the nurse asks.

“Yes, I think so,” I reply. “I had a baby this afternoon, and I was wondering if I could see my baby.”

The beautiful young nurse stops to consider me. “What is your name?”

“Kate Mulgrew.”

She consults the large journal on her desk. “The birth record shows that your baby is to be put up for adoption. Hospital policy forbids the birth mother to see her baby under these circumstances. You understand.”

I do not nod. My pulse races. The good nurse whispers, “If you go quickly down the hall you’ll see the nursery. Stop in front of the window and I’ll pull up the blinds. But you need to hurry.”

PHOTO

Down the hall, she points to the front row. And there on the front of the bassinette is the label clearly marked: BABY GIRL MULGREW.

I press my face against the glass. Strain to see her. Tiny brown face under a pink cap, pink cap over black curls, miniature fists suddenly escaping from the blanket, opening and closing. I put my hands to the window, can’t be helped, and my face is flattened against the pane and then thwack! The venetian blinds are dropped, the nursery disappears.

I turn in bewilderment, but the nurse is adjusting her cap and saying just under her breath, “That’s enough now, you need to go.”

PHOTOCOURTESY KATE MULGREW

1. Seven of eight Mulgrew kids (Kate is far right) with their parents, T.J. and Joan, in 1966.

PHOTOCOURTESY KATE MULGREW

2. Mulgrew at 21.

PHOTOCOURTESY KATE MULGREW

3. With Danielle, the day they met in 1999.

PHOTOCOURTESY KATE MULGREW

4. With sons Ian and Alec.

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