Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Preemie Babies are Not Meant to be REBORN

As the mother of three micro preemies, I can whole heartily say, having a micro preemie is not fun. In fact, it is anything but glamorous and fun. It is a daily journey, hour by hour, day to day with little time to focus on anything but that fragile, teeny, pitiful looking soul, trying to survive in the NICU.

I still have bad memories of the feelings and guilt from those NICU days. When CJ was ten days old and I held him for the first time, I went home and immediately deleted all the photos of him from day 2-9. I did not want to have memories of him looking like that. In retrospect, I wish I still had them, but at the time, I was so distraught I could not stomach the thought of him looking so frail and helpless.

When we go back and visit our nurses, the smell and sounds of the unit itself make me dry heave. Having a child in the Neo Natal Intensive Care wing is a club no one wants to join-- or perhaps, some warped folks think they do.

Jeff and I were in TJ Maxx last night. I saw a grown woman, probably in her 50's pushing a shopping cart with a tiny newborn baby in an infant seat. I had to get a closer look because I still get baby fever. When I got close enough to see the little princess, I suspected she was not only a newborn, but also a preemie. She had that preemie look that only another preemie parent could pick up on. I told the woman, "Your baby is darling." She smiled and was beaming with pride, then, she said, "You know she is a reborn preemie." I nodded, and thought it was odd that an infant could be a born again Christian when in fact, they were just born- but whatever.

The conversation got weirder and weirder:

Lady: Reborn Preemies are created to look and feel like real babies.
Me: Huh? You mean, that baby is not real?
Lady: Right, she is a doll created by an artist, you can buy them on ebay.
Me: Ummmm okay, so you are carrying her in the car seat for fun?
Lady: I just love to show her off, her name is Sarah and she weighed 3 pounds 3 ounces when she was reborn.
Me: How much does she weigh now? (Laughing)
Lady: Once she was finished and filled her weight was complete at 4 pounds.
Me: I see. Great. She is darling (you sick whack job)
Me: Congratulations.

I swear, I was dumbfounded. I walked away in amazement. I watched a middle aged woman shopping with her doll. It was crazy to me. The more I thought about it the more I was kind of pissed off. Who in their right mind wants to have a preemie in real life or for imaginary play? OMG- how sick is that?

So of course, I had to go on ebay and see how much these precious pretend preemies cost. I was mesmerized by the whole thing, sure, but when I saw the prices, I about soiled myself. These artisan reborn dolls are $300 and up. FOR A DOLL.

Oh but wait, it gets crazier. There are websites that sell the NICU props so that you can pose your preemie for photos. If you have ever had a baby that is using a pulse ox, a nasal canula and a nebulizer, you know the last thing you want to see is a doll mimicking that experience.

I was mortified at these images of dolls pretending to be preemie patients. These are photos I cut and pasted from some of the ebay auctions.

These are labeled by the "nursery" that sells them and thus, represents the various artists that created them.

From looking at the photos you can see why I really thought the doll in the shopping cart was in fact, a real living baby. Did you know there are clubs, internet fourms, artist groups and galleries for the fine folks that become the doll's adoptive parents. Isn't this just nuts?

I am old enough to remember when people were adopting Cabbage Patch dolls. They bought outfits and accessories. It was silly. These dolls are taking that theme to the absolute extreme. Apparently, these reborn dolls are highly collected. I can almost understand collecting dolls, almost. I just can't grasp why a grown woman would want to take her doll out shopping, at TJ Maxx no less. Oy, the insanity of it.

So as much as I love trends and collecting expensive things, this is one time when I can say, been there, done that, FOR REAL. This takes faking it to a whole new level.


Aaryn said...

I'll stick with a RLB (Real Live Baby)

The Hanlins said...

Totally creepy!! Why would you want to pretend to have a preemie...people really are nuts!!!

loren said...

I can only think of ONE reason to want a doll like that... if someone lost a preemie and wanted to have some kind of reminder of how small they were? I don't know. Even TYPING that it still doesn't sound right!

Some people are SICK in the head!

April and Paul said...

Hi - I'm a fellow member of CMOTC and have been following your blog for awhile and I have to say, this post turned my stomach. My girls were small (@ 4lbs) and luckily only spent 1 night in NICU. I cannot imagine wanting to recreate those scary memories. Seriously, this "trend" is making me ill!
-April Clopton

Helene Eichenwald Slutsky said...

As I was uploading this post I wondered if the people who make these dolls are in it for money or for the art aspect. I also am curious about the people that buy them.

To me it all seems like attention seeking. The drama of the nicu is serious and should not be made popular or fun. Ewwwww.

Anonymous said...

This is so sad .. We had a brief NICU stay w/a baby that was healthy but small. It still makes my heart race to think about that experience and the helplessness that you feel as a mom. It is disturbing that someone would want to take a doll out to get attention. People are crazy and this is just so sad. I think you should send a nastygram to these people making these dolls. The only reason I could possibly imagine anyone wanting one of these dolls would be for a sibling that isn't able to see the new baby?? But even that seems crazy.

Anniep said...

The whole thing is just mind boggling and VERY disturbing. So very wrong...

I can *get* the artistic bit of making the babies, but the type of people who buy them? Yikes...


JO said...

OMG - that is just ridiculous - and sick. Maybe not the doll collecting - but taking a grown person taking the doll shopping??? or the meducal paraphernalia

My preemies were in the NICU a very short time with minimal intervention and good outcomes - and I sure wouldn't want to relive it. Why?

I think that is worse than Michele's diapered chicken people.



Allison said...

Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. I had to go on e-bay and check it out. I looked first at the ones that aren't preemies - there are dolls as big as five year old girls for $3,000 up for "adoption". WTF? There is NO WAY I want that kind of reminder of the NICU days, especially all of the medical equipment. Seriously, all I thought of looking at the pictures was how much they look like photos done by the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographers. How disturbing.

Triplethefunplus2 said...

That made my stomach turn and I about started to cry at the thought of people MOCKING - YES I FEEL IT'S MOCKING our preemies lives!! Is it a joke to them?? Some fettish that they WISH to have a sick born too soon child?!?! If they had to step one foot in a NICU because their child OR CHILDREN had to spend time there, to FIGHT FOR THEIR LIVES, I would hope this would be a hobby for them!?! Oh my blood pressure just rose with this! It's sick and disgusting and I'm really not sure I would have been as polite as you to that woman! It's a slap in the face to all of us that had to endure this! I could not hold my smallest/youngest born triplet for almost 2 weeks. Does she know what that feels like?! To be pushed aside as a bunch of nurses rush to his isolette to work on him and you and your husband stand there is silence with fear striking your heart?!?! Oh I have to stop, I'm upsetting myself too much over these people that are complete wackos!!!!!!!!!!

Helene Eichenwald Slutsky said...

I know tripletmomplus2, that is why I was pissed when it all soaked in- I was MAD as HELL that someone would get pleasure from pretending to have a preemie.

The whole thing is disgusting.

The Farm House Kids said...

That is sickening. Obviously (I would hope) that the people buying these dolls have never had a preemie, or the fears, worries and sleepless night praying that their babies would be okay ... or even live.

It really just makes my skin crawl.

EC said...

They did a 20/20 about these people with the dolls. Weird, weird stuff...

Anonymous said...

My son was born at 23 weeks and passed away. My grandmother knows someone who makes dolls. And for the one year anniversary of my sons passing she got me one that was an exact replica of a picture we have of him. I think people who carry them arround are creepy but some times it is nice to look at his replica doll and think about him.

Kelsey said...

I saw a 20/20 or Dateline special about these dolls (though they didn't talk about the premie versions, which I find disturbing). It was super interesting to see the different scenarios in which these women were "raising" these pretend children. Some we bereaved of their baby and were using the dolls as a type of therapy. One woman had bought something like 37 of them, and her husband helped her take care of them!

cMe said...

Oh my gosh, that's one of the most disturbing things I've heard. It's disgusting and sad, especially to those of us who've lost a baby or who've had to experience having a baby in NICU.

Catharina (Netherlands) said...

These "preemies" look just like fullterm newborn's... I mean these are kind of fat for a preemie don't you think?
I was a preemie and I didn't look like that! and I can know cause I work every day with baby's who are born with 32 and up.
These are just small doll's.
For a collector with al small house or so :)

I can understand collecting dolls. But go shopping with a doll and pretent that it's a real infant?
Well yeah that's just grazy.

But wow really beautiful dolls!
I think it is a art to make these dolls.

Anonymous said...

I understand that people who have no idea what the NICU is like should not be using this dolls as play toys or as real babies for that matter it is sick but i know that most people that make this dolls are trying to help mothers how have lost a preemie or have had one to remember how smallt hey were or the time they shared together now the only reson im on this site is because im am looking for ways to be reconneted to my preemie daughter who did pass away and because she was pretty mcuh ripped out of my life and her whole story about her i never got a change to make sence of everything i went threw or what happen to me and then it was all just gone her stuff my mom threw in the garbage and it was like she was never here my daugter was born 25weeks into my pregnancy and died 5 days after birth thats the only reason i want a doll to remember the feel of her to hold that doll may help me remember her tiny little body the smell of her hair and the feeling of holding her because when my daughter was born i wasn't able to hold her toll she died in my arms so i want to remember her

Anonymous said...

I just happened to stumble on this. I am looking to get a memorial portrait doll of my little girl. I gave birth to her at 20 weeks pregnant. My dreams were shattered, there was nothing they could do to stop the labor and nothing they could do for her. It was the most heart breaking experience of my life. I tried to hold her but they had drugged me so much, I could barely keep my eyes open and I was terrified I would drop her. My husband held her up for me. My memories are foggy because of the medication. Three years later I still miss her. My arms ache to hold her. I wanted to remember what it felt like to hold her. That is why I am getting one. However, it is something private for us. I would NEVER take it in public nor would I pretend that it is a real baby. I think that it is sick that that woman would gloat and show off her doll that way. It's completely insensitive. I can't believe that they sell props for the dolls to look like NICU babies. It's horrible. My other daughter spent a little time in the NICU when she was first born, it was scary. Thankfully she was okay, now she is a happy little 1 year old.

Alesha said...

I stumbled across this while starting to look at preemie blogs to see if other moms go through the same difficulties I do as a preemie mom..
And im just shocked.. utterly shocked.. Who wants to deliberately put themselves in this postition??? Its not something we all asked for, not something we said "oh im gonna try and induce myself 20 or so odd weeks and have my baby early." We're not selfish like that.. This is sick..
You should've asked what would happen when the baby got older, how much older can the baby actually get before it stops being a preemie..
Im gonna check this out, even tho I really hate the idea of it..

Anonymous said...

Okay, So honestly, why make such a deal out of it? I own 3 of them, and take them out in public. Its fun to see what people say. Granted, mine arent preemie, but newborn sized. I own a stroller and carseat and take them to the mall almost every weekend.
I am getting another doll in about 6 weeks, and its going to be a boy. I have a nursery set up for him.
People who dont collect them dont understand. And yes, I am on a forum for reborns, and have made GREAT friends. So dont knock something until you have tried it.

Anonymous said...

^ This. Does it bother you that much what other people do? Try presenting a less biased argument. And sending a 'nastygram'? o_O How mature.

Anonymous said...

o you say that she is posting a biased opinion what about what these other people are saying uh? Thought so NONE of you can speak on the subject of Reborns do you have them NO . So do you know why we have them . Exactly you don't so stop making assumptions. Did you know that people have these babies in memorial of they're CHILDREN. Would you like someone telling you that remeberinga loved one or an innocent CHILD is "disgusting" or "Sickening" well do you.SO before you say anything remeber what your mom told you think before you speak and leave us alone .You may have lost a child and im sorry for that but don't make assumptions.`So please leave us alone. Because you don't have any experience and you maybe saying things about us . But you are completely wrong you call us sick but you sit and pick on innocent people.

heavenlykissescreations said...

You should do your research before you act so foul. How would you like someone calling your dead child "nasty" "discusting" and
"sickening". It's like you showing a someone a picture of your child that passed away and someone saying "ew that kid is discusting and ugly". These are beautiful pieces of 3D art made to resemble real children for those who have lost their child and want to get the feeling of holding him/her again. These dolls are beautiful and its a shame that you have to sit on your butts and mock us when some are mourning. How dare you. I hope your happy with yourselves.

Anonymous said...

I am an artist and collector of these dolls. Personally, i am not a fan of sickly preemie dolls- however, its 3-d art and i think a little respect is in order.

I have a 10 month old daughter, however- i do have a few of these dolls & i paint them. Its not about money- its about creating something on a 3-d canvas.

Its a beautiful art & its unfair to assume collectors are weird & disgusting. Ive met lovely collectors & artists, its just another hobby-

Sorry about your preemie children, no disrespect is inteded at all with preemie reborn dolls, to each their own & please think before you speak...

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that I'm sorry that all of you went through something like this. But, these are people's hobbies and you criticizing them is RUDE. I am into these dolls and I don't buy the preemie one's because, I do agree that it's wrong to mimic a sick baby. If you don't like our hobbie than just forget about it and go on with your life. You shouldn't criticize something you don't even know about. I accept that all of you went through a rough time with your babies, but you shouldn't call us wackjobs because we enjoy something. I just personally feel that if we want to buy props to make our dolls look more realistic then, you have no say in that. By writing things like this you are downing our hobbie. Just do the research before you talk about us like this because, it actully makes people upset.

Helene Eichenwald Slutsky said...

Ladies, I do not have issues with the folks that memorialize a loss or collect these for dolls that stay home on a shelf, I do however, think it is odd that a grown adult would want to carry around a doll in public, pretending it is a real child.

Memorializing or honoring is one thing, being obsessed with thinking a doll deserves to ride in a car seat and go shopping is another.

Hobbies are just that- hobbies, they are something to do in your spare time. I get that aspect. I just do not fathom the need to treat the doll as if it were alive.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for saying that but it doesnt matter if we treat them like real babies its a maternal instict for everyone. It is just like playing with a baby doll. But i am getting a small baby she maybe small but that doesnt matter i am not saying i am pretending that i have a preemie but any body would want a small cute HEALTHY baby than a sick one so were not sick .

Pamela Ward said...

I'm a 52 year old woman with healthy grown kids and healthy grandkids but I want a reborn because I have always loved dolls! Baby dolls! I bought them for my own daughters so I could play with them. I still have an urge for dolls. I can't say what I'll do with it when/if I get it but I wouldn't take it out in public, I'd be embarrassed because it would look a little whack! I agree the use of medical "props" adds to the creepy factor. One thing that did pop into my mind is that you who are the mom's of tiny micro premies who have been born of multiple pregnancies due to IVF and I admit I know NOTHING about this and am so blessed not to have been there myself, but you do realize when you enter into that procedure out of the strong desire for a baby that there is a good chance that you will be having babies born too early or too small and hence time spent in the NICU. I'm sorry if tht sounds callous. I do know that there are many other reasons that babies must spend time in NICU's than multiple pregnancies, I have a close friend who lost 2 babies born before 25 weeks and I have thought she could benefit from a reborn. People deal with grief in many ways. I personally think greiving over a lost baby is a very good reason to get a baby doll to hold. Actually it's a better reason than being a full grown granny who still loves baby dolls!

Anonymous said...

hi my adult autistic daughter has a reborn dol that she a every where with her a treats it just like a real baby and i think there nothingwrong with that. sh even calls m the babys granma nd i dont mind if it makes her happy so be itan if pretnd that premie is rea for that lady and makes her happy then who cares i dont think it is ick at all

Anonymous said...

I know you're upset that it's a preemie. But there's no need to critize doll collectors. The lady with the doll may have lost a child, or maybe can not even have children herself. Did you think of that?

Anonymous said...

I am both a mum to 2 premmies (both under 32 weeks) and a reborn artist and a collector (got to keep some of my work!!) anyway - i agree with premmie dolls, i hate seeing the photos of them with all the medical gear - it turns my stomach and puts images in my head that i hate seeing, BUT as a baby free of wires i have no issue (i dont treat my dolls as real babies, they are collector dolls to me - yes nice to cuddle but not "mother") i actually have a baby on my work bench right now that will be a replica of one of my sons when he is done, he will look the way my beautiful son looks the day he was born (minus the slime! lol)- yes at that age and size it was scary - but he is my child and no mater how he looked to me he was the most beautiful creation on the planet (well one of 4 anyway) and many premmie parent will buy those cloth dolls that are the same size as there babies at birth - i just don't like them as much as a reborn - this way i get to see and feel and show him in years to come just how tiny he was the day he joined our lives!

but over all this is my hobby, i find it very therapeutic creating these babies - just as any artist would find there hobby, the onyl difference is i use my oils on a vinyl 3d shape instead of a flat piece of canvas!! (oh and they may be worth quite a bit of money, but the amount of time and energy put into creating one of these masterpeices is worth so much more than a mere $300 (the hair alone takes hours and hours and hours!) so this is not a get rich quick thing, its a do it cause you love it thing.

and FYI there are plenty of other SICK hobbies out there that people dont seem to constantly bitch about - leave the reborns alone!

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