Something for baby

Jim and Betty are busily phoning the good news.

Nearby I am making an entry into Betty's chart: a record of the delivery, immediate care thereafter, and instructions for the next few hours. Then I return to their room.

I feel Betty's pulse at her wrist: it is strong and regular, and not too fast. I observe that her breathing is easy and her colour good. I feel her belly: the uterus has the proper size and firmness for a mother who has just given Birth. The amount of vaginal bleeding is the normal small amount. All is well.

I glance at the sleeping newborn. I examined him in detail a few minutes ago just after Birth. All findings were normal. I do not need to bother the baby again now. His colour is good, his breathing easy. He is having a well-deserved rest after the magnificent journey of Birth: a profound transition.

At this point it would be appropriate for me to leave. I don't.

I turn to the parents. "Well, you have a fine new boy. He's going to make a lot of difference in your life." They look at the child and smile. They reach for each others' hands at the same time. It does not take much to get new parents to pay attention to their newborn, nor to each other. They are flooded with joy, gratitude and wonder.

I say: "There's something very important you can do for this child."

I pause for a moment. I imagine them thinking: immunizations, breast feeding, child care, and a dozen other thing we have already talked about during prenatal visits, which Jim sometimes also attended.

Then, before they respond I say: "Enjoy him. It's the best way to love anybody."

They make very affirmative and spontaneous responses.

Then I say, "There's something else very important you can do for this child." They wait expectantly. I continue. I look straight into the new father's eyes and I say, "love his mother." I turned and looking into Betty's eyes I promptly say, "love his father."

They stare into each others' eyes. Their shared hand grasp grows stronger, and involves both hands of each. I wait.

Then I say: "This child is going to grow up to learn that the world is full of obstacles and Opportunities, full of joys
and sorrows. That's the stuff that makes up our life."

They nod. I continue: "If he grows up knowing he is enjoyed just because he is; not because of what he did or didn't do, not because of what he has got or hasn't got, but just because he is. If he grows up in an environment where the two most important people in his life - you two - love each other, then, in that loving environment in which he is enjoyed, he is going to have an opportunity to acquire a marvelous bunch of good mental health habits and attitudes about life, and about himself and others, which will help him overcome the obstacles, grasp the opportunities; bear the sorrows and delight in the joys of his life."

Both Jim and Betty nod quietly.

"And you give him those good mental health habits and attitudes by enjoying him and loving each other."
"Well, he's certainly going to get that," says Betty, while at the same time Jim is saying: "He'll certainly be enjoyed, and as for the other thing...." He puts his arm around Betty and kisses her cheek. She snuggles. They both gaze at their newborn.

I say good night, and depart promptly. They know I will return in the morning.

Two or three weeks later they come to the clinic for a check up. By now the baby has given them much broken rest. I invite Jim into the clinic room with his wife and son.

"Have you decided on a name?" I say.
"Luke," says Jim.

I enquire more about Luke's behaviour. I weigh and measure him. I examine him and say: "He's a thriving normal boy. His weight is coming along fine."

Then I say: "Remember what I said about Luke, shortly after he was born?"
Betty replies: "Yes, about enjoying him and loving each other?"
"Yes" I say, and I continue: "There's one more thing to add now."
"Permit yourself. The capacity to enjoy your child and to love your spouse is within you. You don't have to make yourself. But we can sometimes be so busy or so worried that other stuff gets in the way. Yet each day this child brings you a gift to be enjoyed that day. Tomorrow Luke will bring different gifts: a big burp, a first smile, a first tooth, a thousand little gifts. Likewise, each day brings opportunity for you to express and accept love. So enjoy your child. Love your partner. Permit yourself."

Theme: Birth | Naissance

Stories in Family Medicine | Récits en médecine familiale [Internet] Mississauga ON: College of Family Physicians of Canada. 2008 --.

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