Why I got a tattoo to remember my fertility journeyApr 25, 2022
I just got a tattoo!! It feels surreal even saying that. Yet here I sit typing, with the protective film still secured to my wrist, that feeling of the tattoo gun vibrating up my arm, and the butterflies still in my stomach.
This is something I have been wanting to do for quite some time, but haven’t had the courage to. Part of this is due to me being a perfectionist – I’ve never found anything that I wanted permanently affixed to my body for the rest of my life. And given a Ted Talk I watched recently on regret, this is the one thing people regret the most – in fact, the speaker said that perfectionists should never get a tattoo, given the almost certain regret.
But the universe has been nudging me in a big way recently. Last month I had a reiki energy healing session with one of my friends, and after we finished, she told me some messages that had come through to her. “Get the tattoo, they said”. I hadn’t even discussed my desire to get a tattoo with her, so this made my hairs stand on end. But it was the push and confirmation I needed that it was time. Even as I laid down on the bed waiting for the tattooist to start her work, I glanced at my phone for the time – 11:11, which is a number that signifies for me……I am in the right place.
So, what exactly did I get tattooed on my body, that I want there forever?
It’s a dedication to my 7-year battle with infertility and loss. It’s a reminder of all we endured and survived. For so many of us, infertility and loss are something we are ashamed of. Our bodies don’t work the way they should. So, we take it as a sign that we’re not worthy. And we wonder what our purpose is, if we never become a mother.
Only our close friends and family were privy to the struggles my husband and I endured on our path to parenthood. We kept our fertility struggles a secret, because it wasn’t something we were proud of.
But today I proudly own it – in fact, I wrote a book sharing ALL the sordid details, called The Injustice of Infertility (available at all major online book retailers). I am not a victim of it. And it does not own me.
Our path was not conventional. We would never have chosen it, but that is what we walked through. And today I took back my power, I claimed it, and declared that it is a part of me forever.
While I am not my fertility journey, and nor are you, it does change us. In some ways, for the better, and in some not-so-great ways too. But it will always be a part of me and you.
I’m surprised to feel already, how connected I am to this ink on my body. I feel weirdly whole as a result. It’s like this reminder was missing. In my line of work as a Fertility Coach, it always feels present, but now it is really part of me. Proof that I walked through something super f*cking hard, and survived. I don’t have to have it bouncing around in my head anymore - it is on my arm, for me to see every single day when I glance down. It’s a feeling of relief actually that I don’t have to just keep remembering.
Today, on my small wrist is a reminder that we can hold space for ALL of it. My fertility journey taught me (the hard way) that it isn’t always black or white. Until then, I thought that life was pretty simple. If you want something bad enough, all you have to do is work hard to get it. I was saying things like “just be positive”, and “everything happens for a reason”. If I felt sad, I distracted myself and piled on the happiness. I was head strong and steadfast in my decisions and views on life. It was such a naïve, yet comforting innocence I had back then. It still makes me smile a little. But life isn’t about being right or wrong. It’s not about one or the other. It's so much more than that. It’s COMPLICATED. It’s MESSY. It’s INSPIRING AS F*CK. It’s about perspective, and growing and changing your mind a million times. It’s about taking risks. Feeling the pain.
This tattoo is memorializing a traumatic but beautiful experience for me. It represents the strength we showed to keep getting up after every single failed cycle and set back. And the heartbreak and sadness we felt at the same time. It’s the love and gratitude for my sister-in-law who helped us create our family by being our surrogate. And the grief and guilt that I felt, because I wasn’t able to do it myself. It’s a reminder of the anger, injustice and jealousy we felt when everyone else around us was getting what we wanted the most. And the courage we felt, to keep showing up, keep smiling, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. It encompasses the devastation of our miscarriages, and that little glimmer of hope we felt afterward that whispered…..keep going.
But more than anything, it is for our two babies, Luca and Sophie, who made it into our arms, against all odds. It represents the immense amount of love and gratitude I feel that THEY were the ones who chose us. And seeing the letters of their name neatly inscribed on my wrist, is a reminder to be grateful. Because even on the really really hard days, I know that it was all worth it.
THIS is proof that I can live through loss, rejection, humiliation, heartbreak and so much more…..and still come out the other side a much better person. Because infertility was the hardest thing I have ever experienced. Yet it has shown me a strength and purpose I never knew existed before in my black and white, simple world. That I can be vulnerable, yet fierce at the same time. Grateful, yet driven. Loving, yet firm. Calm, yet a hot mess express.
I hope this serves as a source of inspiration for you too.
But please don’t set this as a requirement if you’re on your fertility journey right now. I never felt ANY of this while I was in the throes of infertility. I couldn’t see the other side and the beauty and strength while I was inside it. And you don’t have to either. Because this is f*cking tough. If all you do right now is get comfortable with all the feelings that come up. And give yourself a little grace, and permission to sit in the shit, then you’re doing great.
It has taken me almost 6 years to get to this space, where I have this perspective.
Phew!!! This tattoo holds space for ALL of that and a whole lot more.
Now, I am well aware that you may be a little disappointed with the reveal after me talking it up so much. But you don’t have to like it. I do. And this ink wasn’t for anyone else, but me.
It’s interesting because when I was in the studio and the artist was checking the placement and the size etc, she asked me if I’d like to take a photo beforehand and check with anyone else to see what they thought. To which I quickly replied – no, this is my body, my tattoo, and my choice. In the creation of it, I made a point not to get other people opinions, because it didn’t matter. What matters is what I think. And if it feels good for me, then that is all I need to know.
And I’m pretty bloody proud of that.
Introducing my tattoo – a dedication to my 7-year battle with infertility, our two babies who didn’t make it into our arms, and Luca and Sophie; the two amazing miracles who did.
P.S. if you are currently pregnant or are trying to conceive, tattoo ink is known to have hormone disrupting chemicals, therefore I’d recommend you stay away from this for the time being, or do your own thorough research.
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