Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ink Armor

On the morning of the big day I woke up knowing that I would never be the same again. After two years of talk I was going to walk the walk- all by my lonesome (as my mother says). I dropped my son off, went to work for a little bit, and then hopped in my car for the ten minute drive to the parlor- tattoo that is. Yup, after many years of boasting that I was glad I had not blemished my body, I was joining in. My husband has 2 tattoos from his younger days. For the longest time I could not understand why people would get a tattoo let alone get several of them. Wasn’t one enough? However, as I struggled with infertility and despaired over becoming a mother, counting loss after loss, I wanted something to mark my triumph of motherhood. I lived in hell for 4 years and I was so proud of my little boy and every day I look at him in awe. Our family story is so special to us, and I began to think about finding an image for a tattoo that would be an inspiration. To justify the action I needed to find just the right picture or symbol celebrating the cosmic way our son came into our lives.

In preparation for our son to come home we had a celebratory party. A baby shower just would not suffice for us because my husband and I had gone through everything together. We had a beautiful black and white cocktail party where my parents house was decorated in black and white adornments, everyone came dressed up, and pictures of Min man were plastered all over the house. My sister-in-law’s sister is a fabulous artist. She designed a black and white stork that was used on the invitations for the party and eventually became a symbol of our adoption journey.

Recently I decided it was time to go for it and get this highly anticipated tattoo. Trying to surprise my husband, I asked a few friends where to go and what to expect. I booked an appointment and had an entire week to think about making the move. When I walked in precisely at 11 am, I felt a little nervous but at ease with my decision. After about ten minutes of waiting I was summoned into the room that was off limits to everyone but those getting “inked.”

I did not know what to expect. Up until this point I had only seen the waiting room and the kind woman taking names. The first thing I saw when I walked in? Several men with sleeved arms and neck tattoos? Of course. More importantly I saw about 20 stuffed animal heads and small full size animals scattered around the room. The first statement I made to the artist was, “If you had any idea how scared I am of stuffed animal heads, you would laugh. The tattoo is nothing to me at this point.”

He chuckled and said, “They’re dead. They’re not going to bother you.”

Ha, ha. I have a true phobia. Even if I do not look at them, I can feel their creepiness and it gives me shivers. As I proceed to speak with the artist about the location of my tattoo, not only do I have to ignore the huge moose behind his right ear but I have to hear that the spot I have chosen is one of the most sensitive there is. I chose the rib cage because I really wanted the tattoo to be private.

We proceeded.

I was the only person in the studio at the time. I lay on my side, caught a glimpse of the stuffed bobcat at my feet and shut my eyes as that infamous sound of the needle sparked my ear drums. I never wanted to back out, I just wanted it over. The tattoo is not very big and it is only black so I knew it would be quick. This is the only thing that got me through the excruciating pain.

In preparation I believed that the pain would more localized to the area of the tattoo. I was so wrong. With the first touch of needle to skin shooting pains went down my legs and into my toes, every nerve was being hit. I did doubt my ability to get through the entire tattoo but then a fleeting thought came to mind. I remembered all of the needles I endured during Assisted Reproductive Technology procedures. I filled up at least 10 sharps containers over 4 years. I had endured the worst kind of needles there are. Areas of my body had been numbed- at times I thought permanently. I have had bruises the size of a cantaloupe. With every new line and stabbing pain inflicted by the creation of my tattoo I remembered the abuse my body took trying to have a baby, having an ectopic pregnancy, and the grief of my situation.
All of a sudden the tattoo was not only a symbol of my lovely son but a tribute to my body and myself for the strength I knew I had. The tattoo hurt like hell but I am glad to be “inked.” I did it for all the right reasons, and when I my husband came home that night and asked me what I did that day, I said, “this” and showed him my armor. His reaction was the best, awe and surprise.

“You really did it!”

“Yes, dear. I did it. Hope you like it.”


Leah said...

What a wonderful experience. I hope you post a photo of your tattoo. I would love to see it.

5thsister said...

I am glad you were able to find a meaningful way for you to commemorate all that you have been through on your journey to parenthood. You're a tough cookie, that's for sure.

my little world said...

congrats on your tattoo! I want one on my rib cage. My hub's doesn't want me to get any more (I have 3) my most recent a year or so ago. A tribal horse head with my daughters initials in it (she LOVES horses!) It's on my right shoulder blade. My other 2 are hidden :)

I'm warning you it's contagious. Enjoy.. it will start itching like no body's business soon.. Keep the cream on it and slap it when it itches don't scratch :)

Enjoy it

Quiet Dreams said...

You're my hero. I also have been thinking about a tattoo on my ribcage, but the pain factor (as well as being unsure about the design) hold me back. I'd also love to see a photo, at least of the design.

Stephanie said...


What a great private victory!

Jewls said...

Wow, you are brave! I would never do that!

Michelle said...

Nice! Can we see?
I have 2 small tattos, one on my upper thigh (got it on my 18th birthday) and one very small one the back of neck.
I will def. get something when this journey is over.

Christa said...

Congratulations on your first tattoo! I got one when I was 19 and I probably won't be doing that again. By the way, I nominated you for an award!

Anonymous said...

I've thought about getting one once I become a parent too...for similar reasons as yours. I don't know what it would look like but I would have to spend a lot of time picking the right thing just like you did. I'd also love to see a pic of yours!!!

Wendy said...

I always wondered what it would be like!

Lavender Luz said...

You. Are. Brave.

Do we get to see a pic?

Congrats on seeing through your plan!

Lisa said...

You go girl!

You battled those dreaded "heads" and found a bit of peace within your celebration!

Your tat does indeed symbolize many things ~ not the least of which is your enduring courage!

Stacey said...

Way to go! It sounds like a very special tribute to a long personal journey. Thanks for sharing the story with us.

Geochick said...

The ribcage just sounds painful. What a great way to remember everything you've been through.


daega99 said...

Amazing! I think it's a wonderful way to remember your journey.


Monique said...

Grats on your tattoo. I had the same feeling when I got my first (and so far only). I needed something to symbolize where I was in life after everything I had gone through over the years... love, infertility, marriage... plus everything to come.

I got it on my wrist and while some of it was painless, other parts left me wanting to elbow the tattoo artist in the face.

Happy ICLW :)

meg said...

That's awesome! Are you going to post a photo of it? I have been wanting a tattoo for about 9 months or so now. I know what I would get and where. But I am so scared of the pain!! But you are right - compared to the pain of going through fertility treatments, this is probably nothing! We'll see though.

Alana said...

How awesome!!! I'm a tattoo chicken, but loved your description.

I'm with the others...any chance we'll get a peek?

Parenthood For Me said...

Sorry everyone. there are some things that do not need to put out into the blogosphere. If I see you at Blogher, I will definitely show it off!

Daria said...

I would also love to see a pic of your tattoo! I have four, and I wouldn't trade them for anything. One, I should have placed a bit differently, but the rest I love.

It takes a lot to get a tattoo, and I hope you are proud of your accomplishment - stuffed animal heads and all!

Happy ICLW!


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