This is Ellie, she’s my very first, one and only, Blythe Doll. There are few people who fall head over heels for a doll, especially one with such odd proportions and creepy colour changing eyes but I did and I fell hard. It started a few years ago as I stumbled around craft blogs, flickr and the magical land of Etsy. It was like Barbie for grown ups except this doll wasn’t an over achieving, wannabe princess. Blythe had attitude, tiny boobs and a big head full of dreams.
I’ve looked at these quirky special dolls forever, lusting to call one my own but never really committed enough to “invest” in one. Yes, I said invest because I’ve seen some sell on ebay for almost $4000… I’m not even kidding. So I’ve just been a quiet admirer, soaking in the clever talents of artists all over the world, creating tiny masterpieces to suit the lives of their little dollies. Tiny hand carved chairs, little knitted dresses, miniature shoes and pretty dresses. What really compounded my secret obsession was a few twitter friends who were total enablers, cooing me into their world of little dainty, girly things. I was weak, I could resist.
My friend Monica found out she was pregnant late last year, a surprise she thrilled about but wasn’t expecting. Her son Brock is 20 days older than Aidan and they’re best friends. Around town, at the park, at the shops, on my couch, it was always just Monica and I with our two boys. I was happy for Monica, ecstatic even! Over Christmas we both got busy but planned to catch up in January. When she walked in the door she may as well have smacked the door right in my face.
I was so caught off guard by a sudden flow of raw emotion that it took all my strength to smile and gush at her swollen belly filled with life. The last time I’d seen her she had a bump but it was so small that it was easy to forget she was pregnant. As her round, fertile frame entered my house I felt my insides wither up in shame. She said “It’s a girl”, a smile spread across her face. One single moment that probably didn’t even register in her mind as she took of her shoes in my laundry, seemed to fill up my entire being for an eternity. Trying to process the rampant feelings, my resentment, my ache, in the blink of an eye. Trying to shake them from my system so I could celebrate with her instead of becoming that entitled, depressed monster of my past.
She walked past me into the kitchen, occupied by Brock. Aidan took his little friend’s hand and and they run off to his room to play, loudly. We make the boys morning tea, sit on the couch and for the next hour we talk about all things baby. I was 80% happiness, 20% ache and I was proud as the odds used to be so different. As we talked about the nursery she asked for my help, I hesitated. Those who know my dark days know that the nursery is my weakness, designing tiny spaces filled with sweet touches and filled with love… I knew within myself that saying yes would be like falling down the rabbit hole. I changed the topic.
In the days after that playdate my head couldn’t stop spinning. Steve and I had just decided we were happy just with Aidan for the time being, that life was crazy enough without throwing my “old crazy” on top. Plus it wouldn’t be that easy for us, I’d need to have surgery to remove my Endo again, then take time to heal then hope that it works or have to go back on the hormone pills. On top of that we’d have to figure out how to pay for it all as well as the Gyno/Obs appointments afterwards to keep an eye on my cervix and any signs of pre eclampsia again which could potentially leave me bedridden for months.
I cried, my whole body was twisted up in angst and stress. I needed to sort out my feelings before I saw her again, so I could be the friend she needed, the person I wanted to be. I talked to Steve, I talked to my Mum, my sister, my friends… and myself. It wasn’t that I wished for another child, I simply wished that it was that easy and care free for me and I realised that that was ok, I wasn’t some evil monster. I did have it rough, I was allowed to own that. As soon as I got perspective on that the craziness drifted away. I have different dreams right now and it’s ok for me to say that having another child isn’t one of them in this moment.
The next time I saw Monica I cried… happy tears as I rubbed her belly and showed her photos in magazines and cool cheap maternity clothes online. After all I was really good at finding all those things once upon a time. Then I found myself obsessing about the nursery late into the night and trying to baby proof her house when we went to visit. Monica is so laid back she probably didn’t even notice but I knew it was a slippery slope. I pulled back hard and didn’t see her for two weeks, she even text me to ask if anything was wrong.
I had to transfer this energy into another maternal, feminine project. Suddenly it dawned on me, I needed a doll, a replacement baby. Yes you read right, a replacement baby. I battled publicly with my decision on twitter even though they didn’t really understand my sudden urge to join the Blythe club but all the same I was embraced. I spent hours upon hours trawling the internet for information, looking at all the different dolls, comparing them, figuring out how much I was really willing to spend to curb my crazy.
The one I picked was actually the first one I fell in love with, a little redhead called “Friendly Freckles”. I paid around $100 and she was shipped to my door. I remember the night before I bought her I cried and confessed to Steve that “my crazy” had returned, that the doll was a distraction. I wanted another hobby, something tactile that I could unleash my creativity into. Something that didn’t take up much room and something completely separate from work, with a brand new group of people that shared my passion. He knows me and where we’ve been to get to this point. He told me to stop crying, wiped away my tears with his rough thumb and said “It’s ok, you’re alright, you do what you gotta do.”
She arrived in a box from China, stripped of her original stock clothes, naked and bare. She came without armour. It wasn’t a surprise, I bought her that way to save money and to inspire me to create her own look. As I opened the box I realised I’d made the right choice. I wasn’t the only one crushing on her either, Aidan was smitten. As he danced her across the lounge room he named her Ellie and it stuck. She is his “ballerina”, his “beautiful princess”.
At first I wanted her all to myself, for her to be “Mumma’s Special Thing” but I quickly remembered that a doll loved is a doll treasured and it melted my cranky heart to see how much joy she bought him. Aidan has his own dolly now, he picked out a cheapie from the $2 shop, a blue eyed beauty with long blonde hair. When I bring Ellie out to make her clothes, to take photos or just to play with her, Aidan runs off and gets his dolly and we brush their hair, put their shoes on and they go dancing. We don’t do it everyday but when we do it’s special and fun.
Obviously a doll could never replace a baby, I’m not delusional. It’s simply a token of my feelings, a figure to fuss over, a tool to express my desire for a pretty little princess and a reminder of my barbie obsessed youth before the turmoil of puberty. A time before gynecologists, before pap smears, boobs and negative pregnancy tests. A time of young ladies, of naivety and innocence.
I’m thankful for my new Blythe friends who I wouldn’t know as well without our shared love, for indulging me in dolly chat late into the night, helping me avoid dwelling on things I can’t change. To welcome me into the wonderful world of Blythe a few of us did a little swap to help me build Ellie’s wardrobe and to work on my skills at making tiny things. I can’t wait to show you what Ellie received!
Some might not understand it but in the end Ellie is just for me and that’s ok.