Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why the tats? (Topic: Miscarriages)

I put the topic: Why the tattoos?  (Miscarriages)  so that you can choose to read on, or if this topic is too squirmish for you, no worries, best to stop here ... :)

I get this question a bit.  The easiliest answer is because I like them!  They have meaning for me.  Tatoos that is!  I'd have to, as I get to live with them.  Really when it all boils down to it, it's got nothing to do with anybody else.  I know that many of the folks I know just don't get it but that's ok!  My tattoos actually have been a major part of a healing process in my life.  Tattoos are healing you say - read on and you'll see tattoos have the power to heal!

You see, I'm a member of the 'Infertility group'.  For me - 10 years of drugs, hormones, injections etc - even  IVF cycles, 6 pregnancies - and one miricle. Cody was #3.  Every cycle offered the chance of hope - life was like a roller coaster.  Once you buckle in the infertility seat, get ready for the ride of your life!  You really no longer 'own' your body, you're at the descretion of science, doctors and nurses.  If they say jump, you say 'how high' and proceed to do everything requested of you ... and then some!  Like standing on your head, taking your temperature daily, eating certain kinds of foods, driving warm 'swimmers' to the clinic snuggled warmly in your bra, having injections and then more injections followed by pills and blood tests and dyes, etc, etc ... a full body invasion of whatever you hope will work!!!  Goodness only knows what all the side-effects of the medications will bring, but desperate people often use desperate measures!  All in the hopes of starting/or growing your family.  

And hope is all that it is, as there are no guarantees!

I'm classified as a 'habitual aborter'.  Meaning that for whatever reason, my body doesn't seem to work the way it should and when I get pregnant, which isn't that often, and then my body rejects the baby.  And even though both hubby and myself have been studied from head to toe, there is no reason that can be found for my bodies behaviour.  After some of the fetal autopses, they have found genetic errors, and the genetic councellors have told us that it's like getting struck by lightening - repeatedly - just plain bad luck!!!

Let me take the time to clarify here - there is no term 'miscarriage' used in medical circles - they are all called abortions.  And even when you insist that this is NOT AN ABORTION, they look pitifully at you and say 'abortion'.  So whether your loss is filled with longing for the child you are never going to have, or a chosen path, you are still called an aborter.

Me, I'm the sucker who never gave up!  I used every cycle available to me.  They did discover that I had endimetriosis, and I had regular surgerys to address the growths and leasons.  But I never gave up ... so much so that in my mid 40's my IVF specialist sat me down and told me - no more - I was too old!  And that was that!  I didn't feel old, but, I could live with the fact that I had done my absolute best.  I would never be able to question my committment to having a family.

Going through a miscarriage is indeed one of life's cruel and inhumane experiences for a woman (I can't speak for a woman who is choosing to abort, but I'm assuming it just isn't cut and dry - it never is!!!), but it is a very dark period of lonliness in a woman's life.  I say lonliness as the husband hasn't the life connection that a woman has, and does not feel the loss in such a devistating mannor.  There's a lot of self examination - and not in a very healthy way!!!

Hint here for the husband/man/father: don't try to talk her through the grief, allow her to go through the grieving process.  The best thing you can do is to hold her and just let her cry.  Acknowledge that this is a loss, no different than the loss of any other family member.  It is real to her.  And always will be.  She will cry - a lot!  It's ok!  She is entitled to her feelings!!

Pregnancy is supposed to be one of lifes treasured times for a woman, but miscarriages have a way of stealing that treasured time away from a woman.  Pregnancy becomes a time of fear!  And subsequent pregnancies are increasingly hard to enjoy with mutiply miscarriages.

There are many well intentioned folks who try to 'justify' the loss by saying things like:  it was meant to be dear, it's natures way of taking care of things, oh well, try again!, be greatful you already have a wonderful child, etc, etc, etc ... but those kind words make it hard.  Truely folks, there's a lot more to be said with a simple and honest hug!

I think one of lifes sad evolutions is that we as women don't talk about the topic nearly as much as we need to.  Have you had this conversation willingly with anyone lately?  And as I'm not a man, I can only assume it's all methodical, logical and has no emotional content if ever discussed? ???  I'm only guessing here ... but have an idea as I have heard the family conversations my hubby has had about the topic.

It is a fact of life that there are many women who have miscarriages - yet because of the personal nature of the emotions felt, we don't share as we need to.  I believe a woman needs to know she is entitled to feel the way she feels and that she doesn't need to feel isolated.  Life does suck and sometimes bad things do happen to good people.  It's ok to feel the way she feels!!!  Don't push her to move on until she has come to acceptance.

Anyways, back to the tats.  I've got tatoos that are visible, and others that are not ... and we'll just leave it at that!  Mostly my tatoos are of forget-me-nots.  I've used a wonderful Tattoo artist - Greg from a Way Cool Tatoos in Oakville, Ontario.  He's absolutely fabulous with matching skin colour to your skin tones, and I enjoy his work so much, that about half the work he has done on my body is freehand - yes, I loved his work that much!

When I was going through the miscarriages - it hit me that I was really the only one who was able to truely remember each child within me and I wanted to make sure that their short time (some a lot longer) remained important, and that they each one were very special and that their time with me counted!  I wanted to celebrate their lives ... I chose to do so through the art of tatoos.  So I have tatoos on different parts on my body - each reminding me of the special life that shared life with me - even though their time was short - in the form of 'forget-me-nots' - and I don't forget!

Time has a way of helping with the healing of loss, but I will never, ever forget!

"Least I forget"


  1. Oh, Kiwi, hugs. I knew you had miscarriages, but never knew your tattoos were to remember those babies. No, you will never, ever forget and those designs are such sweet reminders of your love.

    And, we are all so lucky to have you in our lives as well!

  2. I had no idea the tattoos were for the babies. We've talked about the heartbreak this causes before, you have a wonderful way to remember. I don't have any tattoos, but my losses are forever with me anyway. The first and worst affected Rich almost as much as me, I think. We found out on his birthday. I still can't talk about it without crying. Know how much I understand and love you.

  3. Very touching post; I think you'll understand when I say I've got nothing else to add, because there's nothing else to say!

    Take care!

  4. Thanks Fairly Odd Mother! And I love having you and your gang in my life too ... life is to be held, embraced, felt and appreciated! You are awesome!

  5. The Mom - you know how I feel about you - you are blooming where you are planted and even if your tatoos are worn on the outside, I know that you hold your memories close on the inside. You are an inspriation and make a difference - I'm so privileged to have you for a friend :D

  6. Gidday Idiot Gardener - thanks! I know I've told you before, but, you remind me of my brother! Only, he's still living above the pub!

  7. I know this post is old but I just stumbled on your blog and read this. Miscarriage is so hard for people to understand who haven't been through it. It's like a piece of your future being taken away. And I'm with you on tattoos! The angel on my back was done with my miscarriage in mind. I went through one...can't imagine how hard it was for you to go through so many more.

  8. Hi Kiwi! You post was very moving! I feel for your loss... I too have miscarried... twice. Sending you hugs!

  9. Love your rememberence of your babies. The forget me knots are perfect and beautiful! Though I never had a miscarriage, I know your pain on the infertility. How surprising to find out after 10 years of not allowing myself to get pregnant I'd have trouble conceiving... Like you I went through several IUI's and multiple IVF's (6) in order to have my two girls. My oldest thought 'injections' were the way one 'had a baby' as she'd often pretend to give herself injections w/ her Dr.'s kit right along side of me when she was 2.