A couple of years ago, I discussed my mom’s and sisters’ addiction to tattoos and my equally strong fear of getting one. I’m still mostly chickenshit, but I think I’ve finally grown ballsy enough to get inked. After all, what the hell kind of mafia capo can I be without having a tattoo?
Getting “tatted” together is a bonding experience that my mom and sisters have shared, and they’ve been trying to persuade me for years to join them. I went with Chanel and Dani a few months ago just to watch when they got their last tattoos. I maybe possibly perhaps got a little dizzy when the needle machine thingy drew a little blood from Chanel’s leg.
Wussiness aside, the major reason I haven’t gotten a tattoo before now has been because of the surrogacy attempts. Though the risk of disease transfer is relatively low when being serviced by a professionally-licensed artist, surrogates cannot transfer within 6 months of getting a tattoo. This is to give time for possible communicable diseases to incubate and show up on testing if they are present. So, getting a tattoo was always on my list of things to do after my surrogacy days were over.
Well, it’s time. I feel like getting this tattoo is what will permanently seal my active participation in surrogacy. When I announced my retirement, it wasn’t with a feeling of satisfaction for a job well done. It might sound like giving up on surrogacy isn’t worthy of an emotion as heavy as grief, but I really think that’s what my year of writing silence was all about. I didn’t come to terms with my retirement from surrogacy in a linear flow; I cycled through acceptance, denial, anger, bargaining, and isolation. I had to come to a place where I could look at my cumulative experience as a surrogate and feel the warmth of what I did accomplish instead of the failure of what I didn’t.
I’m proud to say that I’ve made it to that point. I’ll always continue to be a source of information and support for prospective intended parents and surrogates, but now I feel like I can officially close the chapter of actively being a surrogate. Getting a tattoo will punctuate this closure with a permanent reminder of all in my life for which I am grateful.
I’ve spent months trying to figure out what tattoo I wanted. I can definitely say that it has been one of the most challenging tasks to accomplish. I’m the type of person who likes to change things up often, and I needed to be sure that I chose something that I wouldn’t mind looking at for the rest of my life. It also had to represent the happy fullness that I feel in my heart so that in rough times, it would always stand as a reminder of me at my best. It had to represent the unyielding love Frank and I have for each other and the love we have for the Minions and for our wider family. It also had to represent how I now view my infertility journey and all that it lead (and still leads) me to do with surrogacy, because that collective experience shaped a very huge part of who I am.
When the image finally formed itself in my mind, I described it to my sisters and they, in turn, described it to Brandi (she’s the family tattoo artist; we are thugs like that). She free-handed a sketch (the actual tattoo will include color) and emailed it to me. Not to sound trite, but my heart skipped several beats when I saw it. It is perfect:
We have a family tattoo session set for tomorrow afternoon, and I’ll be getting this inked just above my right ankle. My evil sisters have promised to take pictures and video footage.
It’s your turn to share your Smartness: Do you have a tattoo? If so, what is the story behind it? Does it represent a culmination of a phase of your life or carry some other significant meaning? Do you have any tattoos that you regret? If you don’t have a tattoo, do you have plans to get one or would you ever consider getting one? What would you get and why?