Third-year pediatric resident, Holly Belgum, MD, takes care of children and their families throughout the Twin Cities as part of the University of Minnesota Pediatric Residency Program at the U of M Medical School. Recently quarantined alone at home, she wanted to find a way to reach out to the kids in her life. Her nieces are currently separated from their father due to COVID-19. Another friend’s young daughter called her over FaceTime crying, saying, “I’m so scared of the virus.”

“Here I was, reading updates on COVID-19 like everyone else and thinking about all the kids whose lives are changed because of this. I just wanted to do something to comfort them,” Dr. Belgum said. 

It started with two stuffed animals—a pig and a bunny—that Dr. Belgum found at her favorite local shop, which had converted to online sales due to the pandemic. Dr. Belgum decided to buy and send the stuffed animals to her nieces. But, she still wanted to do more.

“Originally, I thought it would be cute if there was a drawing to go along with the stuffed animals. So, I found a bunch of yellow paper in my desk, a pen and really, really old water colors,” Dr. Belgum said. “Then I had the idea for a poem, and suddenly I was spending my whole weekend painting pictures, and the book, Piggy & Bunny, was born.”

After sending the book and stuffed animals to her nieces, Dr. Belgum also mailed an identical package to the kids of two other close friends. Her hope, now, is to share this book with anyone who finds it useful and comforting. 

Holly's sister and nieces

“When all of us are feeling so much stress, I want this book to show that it’s okay to not know what to do. It's okay to break down, to feel all sorts of emotions in a day,” she explained. “We’re going to get through it, and the most important thing to do is reach out to the people we love.”

The story is about a pig and a bunny, who are best friends, but can no longer see each other due to social distancing. Dr. Belgum illustrates the emotions Piggy and Bunny feel throughout the book and shows the importance of sharing those feelings. Piggy and Bunny find they are still able to call and connect with their loved ones over video chat. The book ends with relating how we are all stuck at home and finding new ways to get through each day, ending, “When you need some cheer, what do you like to do?”

“In a perfect world, we wouldn’t be dealing with this. But COVID-19 is here, and I think Minnesotans are doing their best to do what’s right—staying home, making do. I would love the kids who are dealing with the consequences of COVID-19 to have something to comfort them,” Dr. Belgum said. “We’re in a time right now where we need to be flexible, give ourselves a lot of grace and do our best with what we can.”

Dr. Belgum used an online platform to copyright her book and is using her personal social media platforms to share Piggy & Bunny and the Stay-At-Home Plan. You can also click here for the PDF version.