As an obstetrician, I see some of the most joyful moments and some of the most tragic events in a person’s life. One little girl taught me to find joy in the everyday events and believe in the incredible power of a child’s imagination.
Kelsey is a very precocious 3 year old who accompanied her mother to every prenatal visit. Like many kids that age, Kelsey believed she had a baby growing in her belly just like her mom. At first she would simply tell me about the baby she was growing, but as time went on, she became more insistent that I examine her and listen to her baby’s heart beat with the Doppler just as I did for her mom. It was so easy to get a delighted smile out of this engaging child by this simple act that I decided to play along with Kelsey through the many months of pregnancy.
Kelsey became so involved in her belief that she was carrying a baby that some visits she would complain about her back hurting just like her mom. Other times she would mimic that slow painful way some pregnant women have of hoisting themselves out of a chair. Half the visit was spent tending to Kelsey and the other half on her mom’s real pregnancy.
In mid December her mom gave birth to a beautiful baby sister. It was a wonderful delivery and my patient was able to leave the hospital after just one day. I didn’t see Kelsey or her mom again until the 6 week follow up visit. After being shown into the exam room and getting the baby and Kelsey settled in, the mom caught me outside the exam room door and said, “I really need your help. Kelsey is really upset that my baby has been delivered and hers has not. I can’t convince her that her baby is out. You have to deliver her baby for her. I’m desperate. Kelsey won’t talk about anything else”
She then handed me a baby doll that she had bought for this occasion.
I came in the exam room with the doll hidden in my white coat and asked Kelsey to lie down on the exam table. I told her I would deliver her baby but she would need to close her eyes and think about the baby. I rubbed her tummy and then had her slowly open her eyes. In my hands was the newly delivered baby doll. Kelsey beamed with joy and quickly tucked her doll into the doll car seat she had brought with her and gave it a gentle kiss. I asked her what she had named the baby. With her big innocent blue eyes she looked up at me and said “Baby Jesus”.
I believe there is some joy to be found in every day if we look for it. Our kids’ imagination is a great reminder of how we can find it.
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