I could not wait until my daughter was old enough for a trip to Babyland General Hospital. It is the only place in the world where you can see a live “birth” of a Cabbage Patch Kid. I wanted to stand under the Magic Crystal Tree with Sophie and watch as Mother Cabbage gave birth to a Cabbage Patch Kid just like my parents used to do with me and my sister.
An LPN — which stands for Licensed Patch Nurse — takes you through the birth once Mother Cabbage is dilated to 10 cabbage leaves. You yell for her to push in efforts to avoid a C-section or “cabbage section.” And you hoped the baby didn’t come out feet first or “branched.”
Then children get to help name the new doll.
Yes, it’s cheesy. But that’s part of the fun.
The “hospital,” located in Cleveland, Ga., is, as my husband put it, “a glorified toy store.” Admission is free. It serves as a museum of sorts, but most everything in the building is also for sale. Dolls range from $20 to well into the thousands for the early collector’s editions.
I carried my Cabbage Patch Kid, Katherine Teresa, around with me a lot as a child. I was more often than not a tree climbing, play in the mud tomboy. But I still loved that doll. She still sits in my bedroom now in a white and pink dress that I wore home from the hospital after my own birth.
I decided Sophie would be old enough to enjoy the experience on her second birthday, which was Friday. Chris took the day off from work so we could celebrate Sophie’s day of arrival by taking her to choose her first Cabbage Patch Kid and witness the magic of a Cabbage Patch Kid birth.
It was the first time I had been to Babyland General in at least 18 years. They are in a bigger location now, but the same excitement remained.
Sophie was overwhelmed. “Baby! Baby! Baby!” she said while pointing in every direction. “Hug! Baby. Have it.” (“Have it” is the phrase she uses for “Can I have it?” or “Hand it to me” and things along those lines.)
We’d pick up a doll and hand it to her and she’d hug it as she exclaimed “Awwww!” I think she would have hugged every doll in that place if we had let her. At times she held two dolls, hugging them both and exclaiming “Awwww” each time.
She watched the birth with confused wonder, but yelled and clapped and cheered along with everyone else.
Sophie chose the doll she wanted, an auburn-haired, blue-eyed baby. Then she grew rather fond of a stroller she had pushed around the store, and seeing as though it was her birthday, we decided to buy that for her as well.
We named the doll Gracie, after Sophie, whose middle name is Grace. We filled out the “adoption” papers. Sophie took the “oath of adoption” where she held up her right hand and repeated after the woman overseeing the adoption. Of course, the woman said phrases and Sophie would respond with the last word or two she said only. The doll even has the same birthday as Sophie.
There’s something special about these dolls. Why else would they have been in space, served as mascots for the U.S. Olympic team and been featured on stamps? Presidential candidate Cabbage Patch Kid dolls are also made each election year.
Sophie has loved on her new doll, changed its outfit, changed its diaper, twirled its hair, held it while her daddy reads her bedtime stories, snuggled it to sleep, pushed it around in the stroller and asked me to take pictures of her with it and of it on its own. She has tried to put it in the bath with her, hung it upside down from the couch with her, made it turn flips, tried to share her juice with it, tried to share a cookie with it and has rocked it.
I have a feeling this is only the beginning for the adventures she has with Gracie.
Murray County native Misty Watson is a staff writer and photographer for The Daily Citizen. You can connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org; facebook.com/MistyWatsonDCN; or on Twitter, @mistydwatson.