Real Life

Real life: I have over 100 kids, but only one breathes!

They brought me so much joy, but nothing beats the real thing.

By As told to Take 5

Victoria Andrews, 26, shares her unusual real life story:

I cradled my bub Jamie in my arms before putting him down to sleep.
"Goodnight, darling," I cooed.
I'd loved to have spent more time with him, but my other children Shaun, Sara and Chloe were next in line waiting for their goodnight kiss, too.
Then there were all the others.
At 25 years old, I was one busy mother with 100 little kids to look after.
Sadly, the babies I adored were actually dolls and the closest thing I'd ever have to children of my own.
As a teenager, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal disorder that was so severe doctors warned me I'd struggle to conceive.
Although I was still young, the thought of not having children was devastating.
Determined not to let the diagnosis get the better of me, I did some research and came across a community of women called 'reborners' who bought and made dolls that looked unbelievably realistic.
When I was 16, I saved up my hard-earned money and purchased one for $450.
I named her Charlotte.
Strange as it sounds, I soon came to think of her as my actual daughter.
Everything about her looked so realistic – all that was missing was a pulse!
Charlotte might have been an expensive doll, but as far as I was concerned it was the best money I'd ever spent.
Can you spot the real baby? Tobias with his brothers and sisters.
As an adult, I started working as a barmaid at the local pub so that I could add to my family.
By the time I reached 22, I'd spent over $50,000 on my collection of 51 dolls.
They might not cry or need feeding, but each of them took up plenty of my time.
"Wanna come out tonight?" mates asked.
"Nah," I replied. "I'm too busy."
While everyone else was hitting the town, I'd stay home spending hours brushing my dolls' hair and arranging their outfits.
When I wasn't with them, I was scouring the internet for new ones.
Not everyone understood my obsession.
I later started dating a man, but when I brought him home he shrieked in shock.
"What the hell are these things?" he cried, pointing to the 50-odd dolls that sat proudly on display in my bedroom.
"They're my dolls," I smiled proudly.
He looked at me, completely dumbfounded.
"This is freaky," he muttered.
Not surprisingly, the relationship didn't last long.
Although I was single, I was far from lonely.
By now, I'd bought 100 dolls, even forking out $2,700 for a gorgeous baby girl.
"You're crazy," my dad, Dirk, said shaking his head. "You could have put down a deposit on a house by now."
I know I'd spent more than $100,000, but these weren't just dolls – they were my children, and I knew that having kids would cost a lot more than that.
Me and my miracle boy.
I went on to meet another man.
When we broke up, I started feeling sick.
For weeks, I was struck by a pain that wouldn't go away.
So I went to see a doctor, suspecting I'd developed a stomach ulcer.
"There's no ulcer," the doc began, "but congratulations, Victoria, you're seven weeks pregnant."
"What?!" I blurted in shock.
I was in complete disbelief.
After all, I'd been told my chances of falling pregnant were slim.
Just to be on the safe side, I went to a different clinic and got a second scan.
"You're definitely pregnant," the ultrasound technician confirmed.
I was gobsmacked.
Mum shared my joy, but Dad wasn't as enthusiastic.
"I don't want any more babies in this house," he moaned.
As I got thinking about my miracle, Mum and I figured out that it must have been the medication I'd been taking to lessen the facial hair growth I'd developed from my polycystic ovary syndrome.
After doing some reading online, I learned it had probably actually increased my fertility.
It didn't matter that I was 25, still living at home and about to be a single parent.
I'd been practising my parenting skills for years now, and was thrilled to finally be a real mum.
A friend made a doll to look just like Tobias.
But raising a child would be expensive and that meant some of my dolls had to go.
Over the next few months, I sold 40 of my collection, using the money to buy a pram, cot, car seat and loads of baby clothes.
When I gave birth to my son, Tobias, and held him for the first time I realised that no matter how realistic my dolls seemed, having a real baby was a hundred times better.
That didn't stop me from introducing Tobias to them.
"These are all your brothers and sisters," I said.
He's still too young to talk, but Tobias loves staring at the dolls in wonderment.
I think he might love them as much as me!
Recently, one of my reborner friends even made a doll to look identical to Tobias when he was a newborn.
It even has the same name as my son and I've dressed it in the onesie Tobias wore home from hospital. Tobias the doll is extremely sweet, but the doll-faced boy I brought into the world melts my heart like no one else.

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