’ve had this one doll since I was six months old. It has a plastic head and hands and a cloth body. It’s roughly the size and appearance of a baby that’s a month or two old. Her name is Susan, and during the dark, dark days of my infertility I sometimes took her to bed with me as I did when I was little. I wanted so desperately to believe that someday I would have a real baby to snuggle in bed with.
Things have obviously gotten a lot better since then. Every night I go to bed with Margaret on my left side, and Duncan in the bassinet on my right. Duncan generally rouses twice during the night to nurse, and often on the second nursing I will keep him in the crook of my right arm when we’re done, lightly dozing as he sleeps on my right and Margaret pushes some body part or other against my left side. Margaret wakes slowly in the morning, and often when she first rouses she will lay her head on my shoulder and cuddle for a few minutes. Not only do I have a real baby to snuggle in bed with, I have one for each side.
One or the other of my kids will generally wake me up by 6:30 most mornings these days. A doll would never do that. A doll would let me sleep in and I’d need the alarm clock I haven’t used in nearly two years. A doll can’t cuddle you back, doesn’t coo and laugh at you when it notices that you’re looking at it, and it certainly does not get up and run for the bottom of the bed shouting, “Bahfu! Bahfu!” (Careful! Careful!) The doll has been through four bodies in the past four decades, but is otherwise unchanged. The kids seem to develop new quirks and trick everyday. I still love my doll, but it’s my real live babies I like to fall asleep with and wake up with these days, even if the wake-ups are sometimes a bit earlier or more abrupt than I would prefer.