By Rebekah Scanlan
A woman who lost her legs and has severely disfigured arms from battling meningitis as a child, fears she may never be a mum because of her disability so instead collects life-like DOLLS.
Jessica Haldin, 26, from Waikiki, in Western Australia, has seven reborn dolls that she lovingly looks after at home, giving them all names and birth certificates.
Though she’s biologically able to have a child, she fears her dream of becoming a mum may never happen because she’s so physically impaired and wouldn’t be able to care for a baby.
The brave young woman was struck down with the deadly meningococcal meningitis bug when she was just two, costing her both her legs and seriously damaging her arms – one of which, doesn’t have a hand.
Every day life can be extremely tough for the doll fan, who crawls around on her bottom to get around and relies family for help.
Despite the huge difficulties she faces, Jessica has an extremely upbeat spirit and believes the dolls are a great way of fulfilling her natural motherly instincts.
She said: “I’ve been collecting the reborn dolls for two years and I absolutely love them.
“I have six now, two boys and four girls, and I’ve learnt how to cuddle and hold them even with my disability.
“I like that I get to experience at least a little bit of what motherhood might be like, as I know the chances of me ever becoming a mum are small.
“I can’t remember what life was like with limbs, and I’m happy being legless. In fact, I laugh about it. But it would be nice to be a mum.”
Jessica got her first life-like bub after a friend suggested them to her and she’s been hooked ever since.
She said: “The first one I ever got was little Allie, I bought her on eBay and she has a magnetic pacifier which makes it easier for me to use.
“She’s bald like a newborn baby and I loved cuddling her and dressing her up in cute outfits. I couldn’t believe how realistic she was.
“After Allie, I got my first boy Cody as I thought his tuft of hair was really cute.
“Ciara came next, followed by Hope, Zayden, Willow, then Destiny, my all-time favourite.”
Though Jessica doesn’t treat the dolls like real babies, she does enjoy dressing and playing with them at home.
She said: “My favourite thing to do with the dolls is put them in cute outfits and give them cuddles.
“I know some people who take their reborn dolls out in prams, but I’ve never done that because I know they’re not real.
“But they definitely do help me get an authentic mum-like experience which is so nice for me.”
Despite her motherhood woes, Jessica has an extremely upbeat outlook on life, and often jokes about her ‘lack of limbs.’
She said: “Me and Mum are always laughing about my condition, as we find it helps.
“I think it’s really hard for my mum as she was there when it all happened and is still traumatised by it all.
“She’s told me the story a couple of times, but always finds it difficult. One day I was her normal two-year-old girl, the next I was limbless. It was a lot to take in.
“That’s why we joke about it a lot. I even wear t-shirts poking fun at the fact I don’t have legs. You have to laugh or you’ll cry.”
Jessica was just two, when on December 21st,1993, she fell ill with what doctors thought was a cold. Just hours later she was in a hospital bed, with black arms and legs, fighting for her life.
She said: “I don’t remember a thing about it, but I’ve been told I was in a coma for a month.
“When I woke up, my legs had been amputated as had my left fingers and my right thumb.
“I spent almost a year in hospital recovering and I needed a lot of skin graft surgeries.
“Now about 90% of my body is scarring which is why I don’t wear prosthetic’s. I find it easier and less painful to just crawl on my bum.”
She added: “I’ve had over 100 operations in my life, but I’ve always been happy the way I am.
“I have adapted to life without limbs. I walk on my bottom or jump in my power chair to get around.
“Though I’m very happy and couldn’t imagine my life with limbs, there are still some things I miss out on, which is why the dolls are so great.
“They help me nurse that mothering instinct that I wouldn’t get to use otherwise.”
Jessica is fundraising for a new electric wheelchair. To donate to her efforts, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/jessicas-help-fund