Author: Daniel, Bert

Old Doc

Old Doc wasn't really that old, but he'd been at it a long time. During thirty years of practice in this small town he'd delivered most of the current residents who were under that age. He worked very hard but it was worth it for him. Sure, it was tough getting up in the wee hours of the morning to go to the hospital for another delivery. It was tough missing an important family event because of an emergency. And try to schedule a little vacation when you're practically the only obstetrician in town. Forget about it.

Yes, it was worth it. The sense of community. The respect of your neighbors. Having a connection to most of the people around you. It was great. He couldn't wait to go to work every day.

His patient that day was Marsha Williams. She was a new teacher at the elementary school and she was excited about being a mom for the first time. She'd have to take the next year off to start her family but she really wanted to return to school and continue teaching even though her husband Wayne had a good job as a salesman. Old Doc could tell Marsha really cared about teaching and he wished she could have been the teacher for his kids, who were now well past elementary school.

"Your pregnancy is going very well, but there's a little bit of a problem, Marsha. It looks like the baby's head is too large to fit though your pelvis. We'll have to do a C-section."

"That's OK. Whatever you think is best. We just want the baby to be healthy."

Old Doc explained the surgery and the possible complications. A date was set for the operation. But Marsha looked a bit troubled and Old Doc asked her if everything was Okay.

"Oh, I'm fine Doc. I was just trying to think of a name for the baby. It would really help if you could tell me if it were a boy or a girl."

"Believe it or not Marsha, that question has come up before in my practice." Old Doc pulled out his trusty calendar notebook and confidently thumbed to the date of Marsha's Caesarian Section.

"Well how good are you at predicting the child's sex? Can you help me?"

"In thirty years of practice I have hardly ever been wrong", said Old Doc. "It's definitely going to be a girl. And just to be sure, I'm going to write that down in my notebook right now." Then Old Doc wrote the word "boy" next to the surgery date.

A month later the baby was delivered. The surgery went well. Old Doc and his partner were pros at getting the baby out quickly and closing up with no errors. Skin to skin they called it and a good time was expected. Less anesthesia time. Less trauma to the baby. The whole team could take pride.

Despite the rush to get the surgery done efficiently, Old Doc loved to take a good look at each new arrival. A new person! Right here before our eyes! What will this new person be like? What will they contribute to our troubled world?

This new person didn't look quite right though. Low set ears. A larger than normal head. A mouth that didn't look quite right. This baby definitely has some problems. Anyone is going to have major difficulty trying to parent this child. He's lucky that Marsha is his mother. She's one gal who could probably handle it.

Old Doc thought about what he had to do. He'd have to make a call to Dr. McGowan, the pediatrician, to come and take a look at this kid. So sad for Marsha and her husband to have to deal with caring for a special needs kid for their first child. But what can you do? What is, is. You have to make the best of whatever life deals you. This kid needs love and he will get it. He has a future.

Old Doc decided to find Marsha's husband and give him the news before he called the pediatrician. It would be an especially difficult task because he'd never actually met Wayne. The prospective father had always been away on business, meeting with his sales clients. How do you tell a new dad, whom you have never met, that his first son might have a medical syndrome that could severely limit his ability to function in the world?

It can't be done, but Old Doc walked bravely into the surgery waiting room anyway. And standing up to greet him was a most unusual man. Huge head, low set ears, funny looking mouth. If you saw this guy as a baby you would definitely think he was a funny looking kid. But instead here was a successful salesman in a three piece suit saying hello with a smile that beamed "I'm a new dad!"

Old Doc was practically speechless. He barely managed to get out the words "Congratulations. It's a boy." Fortunately, a nurse came in before the moment could get any more awkward. "Mrs. Williams is awake now. Would you like to go see her?"

Old Doc usually went back to his desk at this point to write his note. This time though, he was so dumbfounded that he went back to the bedside with the proud papa to check on his patient. He watched as Wayne kissed his beaming bride. Then the baby boy was brought and placed in his mother's arms.

Marsha turned to Old Doc. "I knew it was going to be a boy and I decided on the name Wayne, Jr. the day after I left your office. You said the baby was going to be a girl and you said you were never wrong."

"That's a beautiful baby Marsha. Congratulations, Wayne. But Marsha, you'll recall that I said I was almost never wrong. And in fact, I was right in this case. Remember how I wrote the sex down in my notebook just to be sure? Read what it says."

Old Doc showed the calendar entry to the new mother. "You were right, Doc! I guess I must have remembered wrong".

Old Doc smiled a smile of satisfaction. It's nice to have a few tricks up your sleeve when people are expecting their first child. Works every time.

(Author's Note: Old Doc is based on my dad, who was a great guy and would have turned 97 years old today)
Posted:  8/19/2013

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