What A Doll

, , , | Healthy | March 22, 2020

I was born prematurely and at low birth weight. I was four pounds, five ounces at birth. I had none of the typical newborn baby fat; my cheeks were flat and my head was bulging, while the rest of me was skinny and angular. To be blunt, I looked like an alien. Other than that, however, I was perfectly healthy and was discharged a day later. My mother took me for my first doctor’s appointment to a well-known, established pediatrician in town, who was known for being rather coarse in mannerisms but otherwise knowledgeable. 

He went through all the usual tasks of a newborn check-up including checking normal infant reflexes. One of them was the step reflex, in which a newborn appears to walk or step when they are held upright and their feet touch a flat surface. The doctor, for some reason, used his hand as the flat surface, and this procedure ended with him supporting my neck and back with one hand and my feet with the other. He looked at me, looked at my mother, and then mimed — with me — a jaunty little dance through the air. To my mother, he remarked, “Look, it’s E.T. riding a bike!”

He honestly couldn’t understand why my mother didn’t find that nearly as amusing as he did. Or why my mother found a new pediatrician.

And she gets annoyed when I point out that, in his defense, I did look like a tiny, baby alien dressed in doll’s clothes.

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