"Happy Birthday, Bacca" by Katie Carleton, August 2012
Katie has a doll she calls Bacca. As Katie constantly corrects me when I ask if she's remembered her baby as we're leaving our destination, Bacca is not Katie's baby. She's Katie's little sister. Despite the fact that I do not recall nine months of pregnancy nor any amount of labor with the doll, Katie insists I am the mother to her plastic sister. The doll's got my hair at least. It's frizzy and tangled and has more than one bald patch.
Katie celebrated her sister Bacca's birthday last weekend. She drew the picture above to honor the celebration. Bacca is a lucky girl to have Katie for a big sister. I wish I could give her a living little sister.
The other morning Katie woke me up before the alarm went off. I kept my eyes shut, trying to milk out the last few moments before I had to haul my half-asleep body out of bed. She told me about her dream. She told me she was hungry. She told me some other things I don't remember because I was trying to sleep, but then she said something that woke me right up.
"I feel sad for my children when I'm a grown up because they won't have any aunts and uncles because I don't have any brothers or sisters." She said it all in one breath, one long stream of consciousness.
"Yeah," I said, opening my eyes. "I wish I could give you a brother or a sister, but my body doesn't seem to be able to make any more babies. And we have to wait a few more years to adopt an older child like we've planned. So for now you don't have any brothers or sisters but you might some day." I swept a strand of hair from in front of her eyes and tucked it behind her ears. Katie's ears stick straight out the sides of her head, kind of like Snow White's friend Dopey. I love her ears. They nicely off-set her eerily beautiful face. I wonder if my body takes one look at Katie and says to itself, "I'm done. Why bother? Look at this child. I feel sorry for any child having to live up to Katie as a big sister." At least that's the fantasy I allow myself to believe so I don't dwell on how sad my subfertility is.
"Yeah." Katie sighed and slung her arm around my side. I'm lucky to have been able to give birth to this one. Don't I know it.
"And anyway, hon. Even if you have brothers or sisters, it doesn't mean they're going to live close to you when you grow up, so you might not see them as much as you see your friends, and anyone can have friends. Friends can be close like sisters. Like Cindy. She's not really my sister, but she's like an aunt to you. She gets to babysit you because she lives close to us and your real aunts don't because they live far away."
Katie wrapped her warm, soft arms around my neck and gave me a squeeze. "Did you know Bacca had a very happy birthday, Mama?" She asked as she pressed her nose against mine.
"I'm not surprised, Sweetie," I smiled and pressed my nose against my sweet little cyclops'.