This is the story of "Sleep Baby," a story that I feared would have a terrible outcome! Sleep Baby is my daughter's security doll, so to speak. A small, plush, stuffed baby doll that she's slept with since infancy. It's been mended, stitched and re-stuffed more times than I can remember. It's traveled the world, from summer camp and school trips to family vacations in the U.S. and abroad! Yes, Sleep Baby has led a good life...until our latest trip overseas.
When Sara and I took our amazing vacation to the UK, Sleep Baby was right along side for the 8 hour flight from O'Hare to Heathrow.
The first half of our trip was an organized tour of southern England, which meant staying at a different hotel in a different city almost every night. Each morning before we'd check out, we'd both do the "sweep" to make sure we didn't leave anything behind. I'm sure by now you know where I'm heading with this! An hour after we left our hotel in Bath, England, on the bus to visit Stonehenge, Sara realized to her horror she had left Sleep Baby in our room at the Hilton Bath City Hotel! I immediately went into action, frantically searching for the hotel phone number. Of course it was impossible to get through, which only heightened my anxiety and Sara's tears. Our tour guide Niki assured me that while we toured Stonehenge, she would get in touch with the hotel to see if housekeeping had retrieved the beloved doll.
Miraculously, Niki did get in touch with the hotel, and they did find Sleep Baby!! Since we were headed to London for the next 5 days, I suggested she have them mail the doll to our London hotel so we could reunite Sara and Sleep Baby before we returned home. Surely it would arrive within 6 days. Wrong.
Every day in London we checked with the concierge, anxiously awaiting Sleep Baby's arrival, but with no luck. The day before we were to check out I called the Hilton Bath City Hotel to see if they could track it down. They said the doll was in transit and should arrive before we had to leave. Obviously, that didn't happen. At this point Sara, who was just weeks from heading off to college, said to me, "It's ok Mom. I knew I'd have to give it up sometime." Call me sentimental, call me crazy, call me heartbroken - I wasn't giving up!
The day after we returned to Chicago, I called the Hilton Bath City Hotel one more time with the ongoing saga of Sleep Baby, and received a very sympathetic ear from manager Joanne Blakey, who knew the importance of the aforementioned doll. She promised to track it down once it arrived in London, have it sent BACK to the Hilton Bath City Hotel, where she would take responsibility to have it mailed back to us in the states!
Yes, this story does have a happy ending! I tracked that silly doll's voyage for weeks through the Royal Mail Parcelforce - and finally, the Friday before Labor Day, I received notification that a package was waiting for me at the post office! Joanne, I can't thank you enough for this incredible act of kindness!
Sara returned to her dorm after the long holiday weekend, with Sleep Baby by her side. While Sara may not "need" the security of her childhood doll as she makes the transition into college, at least she can make the decision to move on without it on her terms.