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Never fear, the kids are just fine. We had another member of the family in the hospital this time. She is a small yet beloved addition to our traveling circus… She’s been with me for more than twenty years.

Bitty Baby.

Specifically, my American Girl baby doll, way before they were called Bitty Baby. I was little, albeit a little old for a baby doll, but when I was ten, my grandparents got me my first American Girl doll; this one, and I was flippin’ ecstatic. I named her Victoria and loved her to pieces.

When I found out Alice was a girl, we hauled the baby out of storage and waited for the little lady to arrive. Finn would dress the doll, feed her, throw her down the stairs; it was great practice for an impending little sister.

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Alice was only two weeks old when my in-laws got her a Bitty Baby of her own; making her a proud new mother of two. Both the dolls are identical save the color of their hair, Alice’s baby has dark hair, just like she did as a newborn.  Right when she got it, Nathan, my mother-in-law, father-in-law and I all had moments of panic thinking that the doll was Alice…

“Christ!  Alice is going to roll off the dining room table!!”  Nevermind the fact that it didn’t make any sense whatsoever for the real Alice to be laying, unattended, among the rest of the Christmas presents on the table.

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As soon as Alice was big enough to crawl, she started hauling these dolls around the house like they are actual babies… It makes you wonder about gender roles and all that; she is inexplicably smitten with dolls. We cruise past the doll aisle in Target and she actually screams while reaching out as far as she can. It is hilarious and terrifying all at once.

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A few weeks ago, we noticed that my old baby doll was giving us the stink eye. It was a little creepy.

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I called American Girl and they told me this strange little defect was something they could fix, just bring her on in and she’ll be sent to the Doll Hospital. My inner ten-year-old did a mental pirouette. I was no stranger to the Doll Hospital; when I was twelve, I seriously considered ripping off one of my doll’s arms just so she could return from her stint in rehab with a real hospital gown and a “Get Well Soon” balloon. No worries; my self-control prevailed, and Molly McIntire remains hospital-visit-free to this day.

But Bitty Baby didn’t fare as well. We took her in and two weeks later, a package was sitting on the porch when we pulled up to the house today. I’m not even sure if the car stopped moving before I jumped out.

And she’s good as new! She came all packaged in a nice new box and came in a tiny hospital gown and a hat.  And a teeny greeting card from an American Girl doll.  Ohmygoodness.  Adorbs.

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I was lucky enough that American Girl footed the bill since it was a “factory defect;” I’m not sure what my co-pay would have been, but I’m sure all the extra pomp and circumstance doesn’t come cheap.

As for Alice, she made do with her own baby while Victoria (how early-nineties is that name, by the way?) was away.  Now she’s back in Alice’s arms and ready for a little extra post-op snuggle.

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Now that I think back on it, I totally should have dismembered Molly.  Back then, someone else would have paid for it, and I want that damn hospital gown and balloon. This whole experience is dragging all those childhood memories to the surface again…  American Girl must have taken a page out of the Disney parks rulebook with all the extra little niceties they give you.  Keeps you coming back for more.  Or, your credit card coming back for more…

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