Tuesday, August 19, 2008

On Feeding Fake Babies

A couple of years ago, the must-have Christmas item for Gracie was a Love Me Chou Chou doll. It cost over $50 and was sold out everywhere, but I persisted and battled hoards of holiday shoppers to bring my baby the baby of her heart's desire. Gracie was so excited to feed the baby and to change her and to love on her -- for all of two weeks. The the well-won Love Me Chou Chou doll took up permanent residence on the floor of Gracie's bedroom until Bub found it one day and peeled all the skin off it's face.

This year, the must-have Christmas item was a Baby Alive doll. Similarly priced and equally hard to find, I considered the challenge, but instead, decided on a lesson. Gracie has plenty of dolls and didn't really need a new one -- particularly a new one she wouldn't appreciate. I told her she could have that Baby Alive, only I wasn't going to buy it. She was.

She protested that she was only five, and had no way to make money, but I reminded her of the holiday cash and gift card supply she was likely to get. Sure enough, a few days before Christmas, she had enough saved up to buy her -- she was so excited! On Christmas Eve, we were at Wal-Mart picking up some last minute baking supplies and she decided to buy her then.

We put the Baby Alive in our basket and walked around for a while as I explained to Gracie that if she waited just two more days until the After-Christmas sales, she'd likely get her at a discount. It was a difficult decision, but when I explained that the money saved could be applied towards other things she wanted, she got right on board. Baby Alive was on sale after Christmas, and Gracie happily brought her home. Moreover, she's taken such good care of her since the investment was her own.

Today, we spent the day feeding Baby Alive. If you're not familiar with the Baby Alive, she has a misshapen body and big alien eyes, and she eats and drinks from magnetized utensils. She giggles and squeals and sings creepy songs, and then she poops in her pants. Gracie thinks she is just the best toy ever and has literally cared for her baby all day long, even carrying her in a sling in Albertsons.

"You were right, Mommy," she said today, as I was washing baby dishes and she was giving her crying baby a bottle again. "It is hard work being a mommy. I even have about twenty babies [insert various stuffed animal names here]. You're pretty lucky you only have two, or you'd be very tired."

As I spent time playing with Gracie and her fake baby, I couldn't help but think about the adoption home study and some of the information that will be required of us, for example, the entire history of our infertility. I think it's a pretty standard requirement to explain the process of all we've been through so the social worker can determine if we've worked through it enough, "gotten over" it enough, to effectively care for a child not of our own making.

But how do we (I) wrap our (my) experiences up in a tidy little package? I don't know that I can. I will never get over my babies who have died. I'll never forget hearts beating on monitors, followed by black stillness later on. I'll never not remember Zachary's sticky new skin against mine and the rhythmic rise of his chest until his baby heart beat no longer. I'll never forget handing off his itty-bitty body and picking up an even smaller urn. I can never forget just how many times I told the funeral director we weren't meant to be there. Can I dismiss the days I lost, the tears I cried, the heart that broke and is being restored even still? I cannot.

And yet, I do not think these things prohibit me from parenting.

Am I disappointed that we're considering adoption instead of bearing another child? No, absolutely not. Adoption is a lovely and wonderful experience in its own right. It's a process we're privileged to be a part of. Adoption has always been part of the plan, part of our plan, and is separate from the babies lost. But how do I convey that? How do I reflect that readiness to move forward in light of the ones I've lost? How do I convey that this is not a replacement, but rather an addition to our hearts and our home?

I know ultimately, the whole of this matter is out of my hands -- how I feel, how I am perceived. We may or may not ever be chosen to parent, and that will be contingent upon all sorts of things. Above all, we're willing to walk this path and are truly hopeful to be transformed -- to be made holy -- along the journey.

Lord, let me lay bare my heart and to let go of the fear I feel. Help me to rely on you, even in these small matters. Let your will be done in our lives and in our family, and guide us along the path of your intention.


  • Randi

    I pray that your fears will be quieted and replaced by peace ... and that this journey will start and end with much happiness.

  • chickadee

    this is my first time here but from this post i want to come back and read more about your story. already my heart is breaking for you, but i know god has a plan for your family.

  • Texas Lisa

    I agree that there is a wonderful plan for your family. Thanks for stopping by my family site. I also have a person site where I talk about my struggles with weight loss and infertility...

    I am here to talk about adoption anytime!

  • Dana

    I think what you just wrote there is more than enough for whatever they are looking for. :) I don't think anyone can consider sorrow at the loss of a child as a negative in an adoption process.

    They like to fill out their paperwork. It is the only way they know how to document who you are. Of course, you are much more than that, but I wouldn't worry about that too much.

    God bless and I pray all goes well and you soon have peace.

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