It didn't feel right at all but I've done it anyway. I have sold these three little cherubs...
I can see some may think they look a little macabre sitting there, and frankly I was beginning to feel the same.
These were my incredibly realistic demonstration dolls for teaching baby massage classes back in the day when such things were new and innovative, and NHS nurse managers allowed health visitors the autonomy to decide what would work best with their own caseload. I used to do free six week courses for about eight parents and their babies in a room in the library, and one carefully managed group session with some one-to-one time afterwards could often save me eight home visits to far-flung rural locations. I must have taught hundreds of parents over the years, and many's the time a mum would tell me the group had 'saved her bacon', and I still meet them in town and they tell me the friends they made at those sessions are still in touch even though the children are now teenagers.
Times changed even while I was still in the NHS, and the day we were all summoned to a meeting with a new sleeves-rolled-up-don't-mess-with-me manager from up country to be told that 'amongst other things I am not paying G Grades to sit around stroking dolls,' I knew it was game over. No amount of debate, explanation, even protest could change their minds; I was old fashioned, out of touch with the new ways of doing things, must have a proven evidence-base for continuing and in the meantime must hand the courses over to a much lower grade member of staff.
I never stopped using the skills though. Talking parents through a gentle baby massage session on a home visit would often defuse countless anxieties as well as calming a fractious baby who was picking up on all the stress.
So when I retired from the NHS five years ago my little tribe came home with me, stashed in drawers under beds, or in a bag, with a hand or a foot sticking out, and it was all a bit unnerving. They have spent the last year peeking out of a bag on a shelf in the boot room, a step nearer the door and out, but not quite. The boot room had a spring clean last week...it was time for the cherubs to leave.
One of the things I was taught on the training I did was to invest your doll with a personality; name it, dress it complete with nappy, and handle it as you would a newborn. This would ensure that you were never seen carting it around by the ankle, or banging its head on the floor and thus giving entirely the wrong message about childcare. In fact so realistic and flexible are these dolls that it has been known for someone to stop me in the street and ask why I have just put a baby in the boot of my car. It all felt odd to start with, slightly embarrassing to talk to a doll, but second nature after a while, and so you can imagine the torture I have just gone through in selling my two newborns and a premmie. I have no plans to teach again and there was little point in keeping them...but selling them...
Anyway they all had a top and tail, clothes and towelling nappies through the washing machine, dressed again and it all felt a bit sad...but far worse was the packing, the persuading them into a box, the parcel tape, the brown paper and the posting.
Eventually it became clear that they would have to be delivered to their new owners in the breech position.
But 'tis done. The Hermes man has been to collect, they have gone to good homes and I hear they are settling in nicely.
And I now have a tidy contribution towards my adjustable dressmaker's dummy, which, now I think about it is actually likely to freak us out even more than the cherubs, with its sultry silent presence.
First thing I'd better do is name it...