“Why do we have belly buttons?”
My six-year-old asked me, while staring down at his own naval during bathtime.
I explained to him that his belly button is the spot where his umbilical cord connected him to my placenta, which is how he got nutrients inside the womb. I told him how after babies are born, the umbilical cord is cut and what’s left is the belly button.
I went on to talk about how his younger brother’s umbilical cord might not have been cut properly, which is why he got sick when he was born.
We talked about how he had to go to the hospital, and my six-year-old commented on how lucky his brother was to have good doctors working on him, and I agreed.
My son followed up by asking me if doctors still had to help patients even if they didn’t have money. I explained how doctors have a sort of “code” which demands they care for anyone, no matter the circumstances. I told him that afterwards, the hospital or doctor’s office sends a bill saying what is owed to the patient or the patient’s family.
We talked about how our family fortunate to have the means to pay for his brother’s procedures and NICU stay, and to be financially well enough to afford quality healthcare for our family.
I told my son that some families aren’t so fortunate, and many have to do things like sell their homes, or ask others for help because their medical bills are too expensive.
My son looked at me and asked with the innocence of a child, “Why can’t it just be free?”
I could have just said, “I wish, or, I don’t know,” but I believe our children deserve honest, thoughtful answers. Continue reading