Little one, china doll

By Maria McCann

Little one,

I am so glad you are with us. I think of all the beautiful things you will do with your mother and father. Will they read stories to you? I have always loved stories. 

One of my favourite books was bittersweet: a story about an old woman who broke a precious china doll when she was a child. She told her story to another little girl, a little girl whom she babysat—and the girl went out and spent every dime she had on a new doll for her loved one. Love always seeks to heal what is broken.

I hope we can read lots of stories together, you and I. 

File 4331

Little one,

I marvel when I study your rapid development. Tiny, delicate features, like a china doll. I look at all the milestones: a heartbeat 3 weeks in. Brain waves 6 weeks in. Every major organ in place by just 8 weeks.

Why do people think that you’re not human?

Little one,

I study the pictures we have of you on our postcards. A fetus frozen in time in the image, but if I watch the ultrasound, I can see you squirm and kick. Tiny feet fluttering in a watery world. 

Why do people think that you’re not alive?

Little one,

You’re so very small and weak—too weak to fight back. 

Normally, when someone is weak and helpless, we care for them even more. That’s how we treat objects, even—the box for a china doll will say, “Fragile. Handle with care.”  

Why do people think that you’re disposable?

Little one,

I will do everything I can to protect you. I will show them that you are human, and living, and precious.

Little one,

I open the postcard and see that I’m too late. Your tiny body has already been smashed to pieces, like a china doll thrown to the ground by a child who did not know any better. 

I always fought back tears when I read that story, because although the next doll was beautiful, it still could not replace the one that had been broken. The little girl could ease the pain of the woman but she could never erase the past.

Little one,

I cry when I see the fragments of you. Your mama tells me that it haunts her to this day. She was just a scared girl at the time.  

Little one,

I realize that I can’t protect you. You’re already gone. 

But I will gather up the pieces. I will show them what was done to you so that, although you received no respect in life, you can at least receive respect in death.

And they do change their minds when they see you. Their hearts break over your brokenness.

Little one,

You can never be replaced. But I can work to save your brothers and sisters—other little children, still waiting safely in their mothers’ wombs. If your Father blesses our work, other little ones can be saved. And I can cry with your mama and help her to heal. Love always seeks to heal what is broken.

Little one,

I love you.