Janny had the baby early. She went into labour at 11:00 on a Sunday evening, three weeks before her due date.
The labour went well, there were no complications and other than being a bit on the small side the baby was perfect in every way. Janny was smitten.
She stared at her new baby for hours trying to think of a name. She finally called her ‘Dolly’.
When it was time to leave the hospital,
the doctor reassured the young mother that everything would be fine and that the baby was perfectly healthy and that he’d see her the following week for the baby’s check-up.
Janny’s husband, Joe, ushered her out to the waiting car and drove home down the quiet side streets so he didn’t jostle the sleeping baby.
Janny seemed to have it all under control. She was a young mother but then her mother had been a young mother as well and her grandmother before that.
It wasn’t until Dolly started missing milestones that the first strains of worry began.
The creased brow on the doctor’s face as he tried to get Dolly to focus, the lack of coordination in the baby’s body,
her disinterest in toys and her abrupt mood swings and sensitivities to sound and strange people were all signs of something troubling.
Janny began to feel uneasy around her daughter, and embarrassed by Dolly’s behavior, by her nonsensical tantrums and unpredictable outbursts.
If only Janny would have looked closer. If only she had been able to see the gifts her daughter was giving her. If only she hadn’t been so afraid.
When the diagnosis came back Janny was numb. She refused suggestions of help and coped alone. Joe tried.
They both did but cracks began to appear in the marriage and it wasn’t long before the two split up. Joe took Dolly on the weekends and Janny revelled in the quiet house.
She began looking at herself in the mirror, trying to find the girl she still was within the glass. She was only 23. Suddenly she wanted to feel it again.
She began going out on the weekends, then began asking Joe to keep Dolly for longer periods of time.
Joe knew it was only a matter of time before Janny left completely, which she did when Dolly was only four.
Eight years passed before Janny saw her daughter again. She sent her pictures and Joe would sit with Dolly on his lap in front of the computer so she could chat with her mother.
But eventually the visits stopped because Janny was convinced Dolly didn’t know the difference.
She didn’t listen when Joe told her what progress Dolly was making or what she was struggling with. To Janny, nothing had changed. And neither had Janny.
When she saw Dolly again Janny was struck at how pretty she still was and how much she looked like an average child. But when she got closer and said, “Hi Dolly, it’s mummy.
” She was not prepared for the sharp stinging slap to the face her daughter greeted her with. When Janny had left Dolly hadn’t been able to speak at all.
But now she said very clearly and distinctly, “Go away.”
Janny looked up at Joe for help. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I think you’ve left it too long.” Janny watched the two of them holding hands as they walked back to the house.
And far from finding herself, Janny was completely lost.