For years I have thought about getting a tattoo to commemorate the most fullfilling time of my life . . . being pregnant, birthing my children and my years spent as a surrogate. I knew I would get it eventually, but the process has been difficult.
First, as a gestational surrogate, one of the things that can slow down the process is getting a tattoo or piercing. Remember, one of the first steps of any journey is to pass medical screening. It used to be, that a tattoo or piercing would set you back 6 months, now 3 months. After I had Natasha and Anjali, I thought about it but then was asked to come back for a second journey and I didn't want to hold up the process. Later after Gideon and Harper, the same thing happened. Months later, when I started entertaining the idea of finally going to get the tattoo, I put it on hold because low and behold, we decided to do a third journey.
So, last summer, after Alexander's birth, I was ready . . . but then came my second issue I've had since 2008 . . . what do I get? I have had several ideas over the years but nothing felt right. I wasn't sold and as we all know, a tattoo is permanent so you better love what you're getting. When I was younger I got a dolphin. I told myself it symbolized my years as a competitive swimmer, my stroke of choice, butterfly. About seven years later I got a butterfly, pseudo tribal, which meant black with some twisty things to each side. Of course, like almost every young woman around 1998, I decided on the perfect location where not everyone could see it . . . who knew years later it would be called a tramp stamp. Which brings me to my third and final issue . . .
Where do I put this tattoo? I went into this week thinking I'd place it on my back to cover up my 22 year old dolphin (which was so faded, you would've thought that I got it while doing time). However, as I shared my ideas with my closest surrogate facebook group, I didn't want to hide it. It's my story as a MOTHER, as a SURROGATE, and as a WOMAN, who not only embraces her body and the amazing things it can do but how beautiful being pregnant is. I have also decided in the last year and a half to be ME and not worry what others will say. Seeing some of my friends rocking beautiful body art, encouraged me to just do it.
Finally, I was ready. I had a concept and it just needed some blending. Now before you start guessing, no, it is not a uterus.
I wanted something that was "me" and would symbolize my journey.
I wanted something whimsical.
I wanted the silhouette of a pregnant woman . . . face, bust and belly. I wanted a big belly (since that's what I always have) . . . I wanted her breasts not to be small and perky but larger and a little saggy, like mine (8 babies people!)
I wanted three large flowers in her hair to symbolize my own children, 2 boys and a girl. Being able to use orange, my favorite color and purple, Erin's favorite.
I wanted long flowing hair (and if it could cover up my dolphin, that would be a plus!)
I wanted her blowing a dandelion or flowers, symbolizing the children I have given birth to as a surrogate . . . and having those "wishes/magic" turn into birds that fly back home to their parents . . . 2 birds in the front that are Natasha and Anjali, then 2 more birds that represent Gideon and Harper and then finally a single bird (closest to the mouth since he was my last one) that is Alexander.
Here was the original pieces of art that inspired the piece
And here was the drawing Jessi came up with for me (she would draw the flowing hair and birds on my body later). I love it. Beautiful and not in a knocked up Disney princess sort of way . . .
It was perfect. The day before at my consult, when I gave her my ideas, she asked me, "How do you feel about nipples?" I thought that was a funny question, I never thought about it. Yes, she can have nipples . . . after all a naked, pregnant lady would have nipples and areolas. I didn't want to hide it under an arm or anything, to do so, I thought would make it seem like I was ashamed and the female body is nothing to be ashamed of. Not to mention my own breast and nipples helped nourish 8 babies, so why not give them credit? Jessi said, that if later, I decided it was too much we could add a strand of hair or some more flowers to cover them up . . . or as my surro friend Jen suggested, having sparklers shooting out of them ;)
So after and hour and a half, here was the final product . . . still red and swollen, but you'll get the gist of it. I'm going to keep an eye on the little yellow parts and if they don't end up dark enough, I may have Jessi touch them up with pink.
A final note . . . I wanted something that not every surrogate would duplicate. My friend Amy designed the most amazing, beautiful piece of art . . . but surrogates everywhere have fallen in love with it and copy it without adding something to make it their own, which bums her out a little. Hell, she even found someone on etsy that took it and made it into some sort of keychain/jewelry thing! I figure the nipples alone will scare most people away from this one!
Lastly, a HUGE thank you to my Surro girls who helped me vocalize what it was that I was wanting, gave me some ideas that I hadn't thought of (going on the collar bone) and gave me the encouragement to just do it . . . I love it and I love them and now, I feel like they are a part of it too.