I got a tattoo!

What!?  Yeah, I know–not exactly something ANYONE would ever dream of me doing.  And no, I didn’t just get it, it was about a year ago.  But, there’s a story behind it, and I’ve been waiting quite awhile to blog about it, as I couldn’t have written about it without also talking about our struggle to get pregnant.

A little more than a year ago, I was in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, with my bestie, Emily, for an overnight girls’ trip.  While shopping in one of the boutiques, she picked up a package of temporary tattoos and voiced that she’d been thinking of getting a small tattoo on her wrist. Without even missing a beat, I looked up at her and said I’d been thinking of getting a tattoo as well.  WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?!  Readers, the words just flew out of my mouth as if they’d been waiting to be released for some time.  Immediately, I gestured to the right side of my upper ribs and described what I’d envisioned: something small, something written, something about perseverance.

(Spoiler alert: We did not get tattoos that weekend, nor has Emily gotten a tattoo as of this writing.)

You see, after a few years of going through the infertility process, I realized I’d changed.  Not in a huge way, but rather in an almost imperceptible, under-the-skin kind of way. Whether we ended up on the other side with a biological child, an adopted child, or no child, I would no longer be the same Holly as I was before all the appointments and injections and fear and worry.  Our infertility journey had scarred me, and it’s as if all at once I wanted–NEEDED–to have some small piece of evidence to show it on the outside.

Back to Chagrin Falls.  As I tried to wrap my brain around this realization, Emily and I discussed tattoo options in detail.  I looked up Bible verses about perseverance, she experimented by putting a (temporary) lotus tattoo on her wrist.  Quite suddenly, I realized the words I was looking for were actually on a bracelet I wore with some regularity.  Originally purchased simply because it was rose gold and pretty, the bracelet’s words–‘what is for you will not pass you’–had taken on new meaning for me as we tried for so long to get pregnant.  Those words had become God’s faithful promise to us; that no matter how it all ended, He still had a good and perfect plan for Andrew and me.

Emily and I considered actually getting tattoos together that evening for about a second, before realizing it was a pretty rash decision.  IF one is going to get a tattoo, we reasoned, it should be somewhere local to to your actual place of residence.  Plus, a very loud voice in my head (that sounded a bit like Andrew), was telling me to wait and discuss it with him first.  I knew he wouldn’t be keen on the idea, and I was sure he’d be very upset (that’s putting it mildly) if I actually came home with a tattoo.

So, on my drive home the following day, I brought it up with him on the phone.  (I’ve never been one to pick the best timing for important discussions, I admit.)  Needless to say, he was shocked and completely against the idea.  I told him it was important to me and that we could continue talking about it over the following week.  I’d already called the clinic.  (“So, I have a crazy question.  Can I get a tattoo?” Yes, yes I could, as long as it was before my injections.) I had one week to get the tattoo to allow an additional week of healing before my injections started up again.

Andrew and I discussed the tattoo that week, and after I explained to him how I felt about feeling different and needing to express that, he softened.  While he couldn’t admit to being 100% on board with the idea, he did say that he understood my desire to get it.

The following weekend, I was lying in the chair at EA Ink (“Where the housewives of East Aurora go to get tattoos,” according to Andrew.) with my sister-in-law, Carolyn, and friend, Stacy, for support.

I’d spent the better part of the previous week writing the words from the bracelet over and over again on scratch paper before finally sending an image to the tattoo artist.  I loved that it would be in my own handwriting.

I also chose the location strategically; this tattoo is for me, and as such I knew I didn’t want it on display or on a hard-to-cover part of my body.  I don’t have any immediate plans for additional tattoos, but do have some ideas for potential tattoos, which may or may not be put in more visible places.  Through this experience, I gained a perspective on body art that I didn’t have before, and have more understanding and appreciation for the images other people choose to show to the world. I’ve since gotten a couple additional ear piercings, and have plans for a nose piercing (much to Andrew’s chagrin) after Baby Layer makes her appearance….and I recover from those first few weeks (or months!) of survival mode.

The experience was almost euphoric, in a way.  Getting a tattoo felt out of character yet right; wild and spontaneous yet analyzed to death; quick yet a long time coming.  Physically, it felt just as you might imagine: an itty bitty needle scratching your skin repeatedly.  Thankfully, my tattoo is made up of a bunch of single letters, which punctuated the discomfort frequently during the short, approximately ten-minute process.  I’m not sure how people manage larger tattoos…

In the months since the experience, my tattoo has healed nicely and I love catching glimpses of it in the mirror while getting dressed.

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