Feed on

Matt and I are considering offering a cash reward for anyone who can name the phenomenon I am about to describe. I’ve tried Googling and have come up blank, and the book What to Expect the First Year has no mention of what we’ve experienced. (The book covers just about everything else with an authoritative but reassuring tone; it’s a great book.)

So here’s the no-name experience: The first two nights we had Simon home with us, he slept beside us in a Moses basket with his head between mine and Matt’s. Neither of us could stand putting him at the foot of the bed, much less in a separate room. Every two to three hours we awoke to feed him or check on him, and at each instance we spent a lot of time just staring at his face and learning his features.

By night three, Simon moved to the foot of the bed to give us more space. That’s when things got weird. Percival (the cat) hopped up on the bed by my face, and in my groggy state I thought I was seeing Simon instead. Then, the very next night, something similar happened, only this time I understood I was seeing a cat, only Percival had Simon’s eyes. I finally confessed these visions to Matt, only to learn that Matt saw Simon’s face in my hair when he awoke and was facing the back of my head in the late night or early mornings.

Neither of us experienced this beyond night 3 or 4, so there’s no need to contact social services on Simon’s behalf. But I’m curious: What the heck was that? Some sort of odd parental imprinting? The hallucinations of the sleep deprived? New parent psychosis? Given the human tendency to see faces in everything from parking meters to food items (we’re hard wired to recognize and relate to faces), I’m guessing it’s the first. But it was certainly odd and I’d give anything to know if there’s a name for it.

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