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La Leche League Strikes Again

Patrizia A.
Italy
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 19 No. 2, March-April 2002, pp. 54-55.

Teresa is not a baby girl or even a baby boy. Teresa is a doll. She was given to my three-year-old daughter, Maya, for Christmas. She looks like a two-month-old baby, and came with her own bottle, plate, ten packets of real baby food (all that was missing was the name of a well-known baby food manufacturer), real nappies (diapers), and a potty. Teresa also has two holes. “One to pee and one to poo,” said Maya. Maya was really happy to have all the accessories. The item that I liked best was the instructions. I thought it would be marvelous if real babies came with them. They seemed so simple!

Maya wanted to try to feed her doll. I made up the food reluctantly because the doll baby seemed just too “young.” Then we put some water in the bottle. “If she eats then she also has to drink, poor thing,” I was told. We couldn’t use Maya’s own cup, because otherwise the liquid would have gone into the wrong place and come out of the wrong hole at the other end. Maya fed Teresa with a spoon, and once every so often stopped and gave her some water. By the end it seemed to me that Teresa had neither eaten nor had she drunk. I guess I was wrong. You’ll find out why if you keep reading.

After she had finished eating and drinking we waited for Teresa to wet and dirty her nappy! We waited and waited but Teresa did nothing. We wondered whether she was constipated. I started thinking, “Now if only she was breastfed,” but then told myself “Oh well, it’s only a doll.” In the meantime Maya walked up and down with her baby in her arms (she has seen her aunts who have small children doing this), but to no avail. Then she asked me for help. I took Teresa, put her on my shoulder in the usual burping position, and she “spit up” all over my sweater! Still in a mood to laugh and joke I said, “Poor baby, she can’t digest her food!” That made Maya laugh, although she was still concerned that Teresa couldn’t dirty her nappy. After all, she really wanted to change it!

I went off then to change my clothes. When I came back I found that Teresa had “thrown up” on the floor and on the sofa and I started thinking that this wasn’t really very funny any more. I pretended to be worried about Teresa, but I was becoming pretty cross with whoever had invented this doll. Unbeknownst to Maya, I took Teresa into the bathroom, turned her upside down, and tried to empty the doll into the sink. I shook her till it seemed to me that there could be no more. Then I handed her back gently to Maya hoping that Teresa would not spit up any more. Then the telephone rang.

As I told my friend on the phone the story of the new doll, I started thinking about what had happened. Not only babies but also dolls are the targets of misinformation! The worst thing is that these dolls teach small children that bottle-feeding is normal. Oh no, that won’t happen with my daughter, I thought to myself. In the meantime Maya lost all hope that Teresa would wet her nappy. She stripped her nude and like all self-respecting babies, Teresa promptly wet herself and her “mother’s” legs.

I was fed up with cleaning these messes and changing clothes. It’s okay when a real baby is involved but for a doll, no, I absolutely refuse. My daughter didn’t know whether she should be happy or sad about the latest development. She looked up at me, upset, wanting to be reassured and consoled. The mother in me, the one that had breastfed two children, had to come out and say what she really thought in this desperate situation. So I explained to Maya that Teresa was really much too small to eat solids and that babies really prefer the breast to the bottle. Besides, if she breastfed Teresa maybe she wouldn’t spit up so much.

Nothing could have been easier. Maya lifted up her sweater and put Teresa to her breast. Miraculously, from that moment on, Teresa had no more episodes of spitting up. Maya is happy, I have a daughter who is nursing her baby, all of us have clean clothes, and I can save money on nappies and baby food. What more could I want? La Leche League strikes again!

(Translated by Shera Lyn Parpia Khan) From Da Mamma a Mamma, LLL Italy’s members letter, number 64, summer 2001.

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