Six Weeks

First off, I’m going to start with apologies. I’m not going to bother apologizing for not regularly posting because, by now, I’m sure you’re used to that. I am, however, going to apologize for not keeping up on my What is it Wednesday commitments. I said in my original post that I would congratulate the “winner” and link back to their blog in my next post.
On June 27, my mom, Supergrammy solved the post in just over 1.5 hours. I totally overlooked that. Sorry ma. Last week, Ann Archie of the Square Flea (a really great, mostly funny blog, btw) solved the puzzle. I did, honestly, consider honoring her in the next post I made after that, but I thought a rant wouldn’t be the best place to do so. So, congratulations Ann for solving that one in less than 20 minutes!

Now, on to today’s train of thought…..

Back when I was 14, a youth centre opened in our town. It was a place where teens 13 to 17 could hang out. As this was a small town, this centre was something that we needed. (It is still something that is needed, but funds quickly ran out and it closed after a little more than 2 years in operation.)
During that first year it was open, public health services put on an experimental teen pregnancy deterrent program. This program used RealCare babies. These “babies” were assigned to a “parent” for a six week period. There were 13 participants in the youth centre group (12 female, 1 male), myself included. The whole idea was that the parent was supposed to fail, but of course they didn’t tell us that.
At the age of 14, I had been babysitting for about two and a half years. I had been babysitting full time (50+ hours per week) for about a year and a half. I felt pretty confident going in to this and proudly signed the “birth certificate” (care agreement) for my “baby” (Cody) to begin my six weeks.
This baby was actually pretty demanding. I had to make sacrifices in order to maintain his care, just like a real parent would, because I was determined to do this. It woke in the middle of the night, it cried for no reason, diapers and clothes needed to be changed, etc. It had to be transported safely, whether in a vehicle or walking. No tossing THIS doll in your backpack.
These babies would “die” if not properly cared for and the nurse would give the parent of each “dead baby” a lecture on what kind of consequences (other than the death of the child) that would have for them. These consequences usually included what kind of legal charges could be brought against them. I was determined to NOT have to sit through one of those lectures. I would do whatever I needed to in order to make sure Cody lived.
The first baby to die did so without ever leaving the centre on the activation day. About half of them were dead in that first week. The rest slowly dropped off one by one as Cody and I watched from our safe, comfortable corner.
Responding to that mechanical cry became automatic for me fairly quickly. I became adept at reaching for his bottle and diaper change, while half asleep, within the first two weeks. He went everywhere I went and was part of whatever plans I made. I treated him as much like a real baby as I could, given he was a doll.
By the end of the six week period, Cody had been “sick” twice and had eight nights of not sleeping, twice in a set of two nights in a row. He had approximately 300 diaper changes and had visited every shop and appointment I had during that time. He was never apart from me and I felt like he was a part of me. He had survived the entire trial.
On that final day, Cody was the only baby that was still alive. It felt somehow wrong to hand him back to the nurse. I had to look away as she deactivated him. In those six weeks, I had become attached to this doll.
In those six weeks, I also caused the experimental program to be deemed a “failure”. I had passed the program and therefore it was deemed to be an unsuccessful deterrent. Instead of getting a lecture about consequences of my baby’s death, it was explained to me why my baby should have died. I was actually a little pissed off about that, especially since I was so proud of having completed the program.
This baby was not easy to care for. He actually acted similar to a real baby. When I took him babysitting with me, it was definitely like having an extra child to care for. The programming was done in a way that would definitely make people think twice about having a baby. My determination just proved to be stronger.

In hindsight, I can now see why the program was stamped “fail”. Less than two years later I was pregnant with L. Cody was, in many ways, MUCH easier to have around than L. I’m not saying Cody’s survival caused my early pregnancy (L and T were actually both unplanned pregnancies), but it did give me a (small, limited) glance at what it would be like to have someone permanently attached to me.
While the program didn’t prevent my early pregnancy, at least it helped prepare me for what lay ahead. And hey, with L (and T) I got WAY past the six week mark…..

No matter how dark the day, the sun is always shining somewhere!

Jules

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