A GRIEVING mother has told how sick bullies urged her to commit suicide after she posted pictures of herself with reborn dolls she’d bought to ease the heartache since losing her only child.
Sabrina McKenna, 35, from Omagh, Co. Tyrone, turned to the life like dolls to ease ’empty arm syndrome’ after the death of her baby son Jamie three years ago.
She has been unable to conceive since and says the dolls help ease her pain at being left childless by giving her something to hold and cuddle.
But bullies branded her ‘weird and creepy’ and told her she’d be better off dead. She even received vile messages urging her to take her own life by jumping off a bridge to join her son.
Heartbreakingly she says as the bullying over her dolls grew worse she said she even considered it and gave Lily and Jay away to a friend. But now she’s taken them home and vowed to fight back against the bullies.
Sabrina said: ‘ My reborns made me happier than I had been since my son died. Being able to hold them in my arms helped me fill that empty arm feeling that only a mother who has lost a child will understand. But the bullying destroyed me and left me feeling I was doing something wrong.
‘But I’m not hurting anyone so why do people want to wish me dead just for having reborn dolls.
‘I know they are not for everyone but I cannot tell you how much they have helped ease my pain and suffering while I mourn for Jamie and wait for doctors to tell me why I have not been able to conceive since he died.’
Sabrina McKenna, 34, was 31 when she finally conceived after years of trying.
The overjoyed former office worker said she had feared she might never be a mother after trying for so long for a baby with her then partner.
She said: ‘ It was all I ever wanted so when it finally happened I cannot tell you how delighted and excited I was. We were both so happy.
‘From the moment I found out I was pregnant the baby was my life.’
At 20 weeks she learned she was carrying a son and named him Jamie.
She decorated the nursery and awaited his arrival. But at 32 weeks a routine scan in June 2102 failed to detect a heartbeat.
With just eight weeks to go Sabrina could not believe her son had died.
She said: I was in utter shock. I could not believe it was really happening, that my son had gone.’
She endured a 12-hour labour and later took her baby home the night before his funeral.
She said: ‘ I wanted him to be in his room among all the lovely clothes and toys I had bought for him.’
In the months following she struggled with depression but found comfort sitting in what would have been her son’s bedroom.
When she split with her partner she began buying more toys for him to make her feel closer to him.
‘Jamie was gone but I could still buy little treats and take them to his room or his grave. It gave me a tiny feeling of comfort and joy that I think you can only understand if you have lost a baby.
‘That’s why you see so many gifts on children’s graves if you visit a cemetery; it’s all we can do for our little ones.
‘It’s my way of saying ‘you are gone but I still think of you.’
But when she began posting pictures of her son’s toys online she received nasty comments and spoke out in defense of her actions.
She said: ‘ I planned to donate all the toys to charity in my son’s memory when I felt ready but I couldn’t understand why strangers were so angry about a grieving mum doing something to ease her pain.’
But things were about to get much worse for Sabrina when she bought two reborn dolls.
She said: ‘I’d seen them on facebook and thought they were beautiful. Up until then I wasn’t even able to go near friend’s babies because it was too upsetting for me.’
In April she paid £110 for a doll painted and weighted to look and feel like a real baby. She called her Lilly.
Sabrina said: ‘ She was fantastic and I enjoyed dressing her and holding her and it was lovely to hold her. Only mums who have a lost a child will understand how empty your arms feel.’
Months on she felt having Lily had helped her move forward enough to consider buying a boy reborn which she had made to look like the son she had lost.
She said: ‘ It was a huge step for me and showed me how much having Lily had helped me already.’
‘I sent pictures of my son and had him made to look like him, down to the same length and wait.’
When he arrived by post Sabrina burst into tears. She said: ‘ For the first time in a long time they were tears of joy because he was just so beautiful. I held him and remembered what it had been long to hold my son and it felt wonderful.’
She called the doll Jay in tribute to her son. She said: ‘ I was able to dress him in clothes I had bought for my Jamie and it felt comforting to see the outfits on him.’
She bought a pushchair and began talking Jay and Lily out for walks.
She said: ‘ He looked so real people would stop me in the street to look into the pram. I always told them to truth and people seemed really moved when I explained why I had reborns.’
The strength she gained from having Jay she says helped give her the courage to hold a friend’s young baby boy – the first time she had held a baby since her son.
She said: ‘ I thought I would never be able to hold a newborn baby boy again and I hated not being able to share my friends joy when they had their children.
‘I wasn’t jealous or unhappy for them, just scared of the pain it would cause me to hold their babies but after being able to hold Jay I did it and it felt such a huge step.’
She says shopping for clothes for Jay also helped her face another fear. ‘After Jamie died I couldn’t even face going into the baby boy’s clothes section so my friends and family all agreed the reborns had helped me so much.’
Initially pictures of Lily and Jay were met with support but Sabrina started receiving abusive messages from strangers.
She said: ‘ I was left in tears. They were really vile telling me I would be better off dead and that I was weird and creepy.’
Other messages said she was insulting ‘ real mum’s by posting pictures of her looking after dolls.
Sabrina was also laughed at and mocked in town and was left too upset to leave her house for three days.
‘I just felt everybody was laughing at me and was too anxious to go out. I’d found some happiness only to end up feeling worthless again.’
When she received messages urging her to take her life she hit rock bottom. She sent Lily and Jay to stay with a friend and considered giving them up all together.
She said: ‘ I couldn’t believe people were actually telling me to kill myself. I questioned everything but I really missed them when they weren’t here.
‘Friends and family agreed I had been so much better since I got them that I decided to take Lily and Jay back and stand up to the bullies.
‘I cannot and will not let them win. Nothing can hurt me as much as losing my son.
Lily and Jay are now back home with Sabrina and she says she will never give them up again and may even add more reborns to her home.
‘Why should I have to give up something that brings me joy just to please others.
‘I wish I could hold a real baby and dress a real baby but I cannot so please don’t bully me for finding comfort in reborns.
‘They are more than just dolls. Dolls cost £10 in Argos, these are works of art and Jay is a tribute to my son I can treasure and love and importantly hold and cuddle.
‘I don’t understand why they have made me a target for such vicious hate but I do know that I cannot let them win.’