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Infertility Ink

Posted Feb 27 2013 11:13pm

I do not have a tattoo. You might think that this is because I’m Jewish and that Jews with tattoos can’t be buried in Jewish cemeteries. Turns out, that’s actually Jewish urban legend . Still, the Torah technically forbids that Jews get tattoos .

But that doesn’t mean I don’t want one.

When I was in high school, I wanted some cliched drama mask and treble clef combo. As my Glee-like levels of drama nerd-dom have waned, however, I feel more drawn to ancient symbols that are reflections of my shared Japanese and Irish heritage, such as triskeles and mitsudomoe . And, as sacrilegious as it sounds, I like the idea of getting a hamsa tattooed somewhere on me as well.

I’m not sure why I’m so drawn to getting a tattoo, other than I’ve always wanted one. Nothing big or ostentatious: just something small and personal, rife with intimate meaning, somewhere discreet but where I can see it when I want to, such as the inside of the wrist, the inside of the ankle or the top of the foot. (I know – I’m picking some of the most painful areas to boot.)

I told Larry that once we are finally over our infertility battle, that is, once we’ve got our son home and in our arms – I’m getting a tattoo. I feel like I need to honor this journey with an indelible mark on my body – a visible scar to match the invisible ones on my heart.

Turns out, I’m not the only person who’s had this idea.

I had first read about getting a tattoo to honor an infertility journey sometime in the last two years. For the life of me, I cannot remember the blogger, but I do remember her tattoo: a black hibiscus. And I seem to remember she got the same tattoo along with two other fellow bloggers or peer support group members, each of them honoring their own infertility paths. (If that’s you, let me know – I’d love to link to your post showing off your spiffy tattoo :) )

So recently, I put the call out there on Facebook and Twitter to see who else had gotten tattoos to mark their infertility journeys.

Here’s what some folks on Twitter sent my way:

@ keikozoll I do. Two footprints of our 27-weeker preemies embraced in a blue rose of the triplet we lost.

— Tricia (@TCStream) February 21, 2013

@ keikozoll Yes. Small butterfly next to my hysterectomy scar. It represents a new beginning. Endo never allowed me to have children.

— Catherine Lambert (@Liasomothers) February 21, 2013

Heather emailed me her infertility tattoo story:

“Just over a year ago I overcame my 5 year struggle with infertility… by accepting it. It consumed me for 5 years and became who I was instead of a part of me. I now live my life childfree and LOVE my life again. Infertility stole my identity for 5 years… and like most women struggling with infertility, I almost took my own life. My tattoo is a symbol of who I am now: “Stronger.” The saying in life is that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I have it on my foot symbolizing that infertility walks with me through this life; healed, but never forgotten.

Kimberly sent me a link to her blog post talking about her infertility tattoo :

"Now every time things get difficult, you can look at your wrist and it will help you find the strength you need to get through it."

“Now every time things get difficult, you can look at your wrist and it will help you find the strength you need to get through it.”

“I love this tattoo. This tattoo holds so much meaning. Seeing it on my wrist brings tears to my eyes because I sincerely believe it. We will get through this. Not only does this tattoo serve as a tribute to my grandparents and their health struggles, but its a reminder of our own struggles with infertility and that this is not a permanent problem and that if we fight and believe in the fight, one day we will get the chance to become parents and to give our love to a little bundle of joy.” Read Kimberly’s full post about her tattoo here .

Natasha N. sent me this lovely pic of a sea turtle to honor their path:

A symbol of longevity and fertility

A symbol of longevity and fertility

“Here is my tattoo honoring my infertility journey. I got it on vacation in Hawaii after my husband returned from a seven month deployment. Sea turtles are known fertility symbols and represent strength, patience and the power to endure and persevere. We went on a snorkeling tour while there and on one of our dives there were a ton of sea turtles surrounding us out in the ocean! So with everything combined- the infertility journey, the spirit of the island, the memorable vacation, and experience of all of those symbols of fertility and strength surrounding me, I thought what better a time to finally get that tattoo that I have been wanting?

I placed it on my foot to remind myself that this is something I have walked through and that I am still standing despite it all (so far ;) ) and also because I didn’t want it in some horrid place that will look awful when I am 70! It all came together in some great way, so I am glad to have it and use it as a reminder when I need it.”

Jessie sent me this lovely little blackbird that sits on the inside of her wrist:

"Take these broken wings and learn to fly."

“Take these broken wings and learn to fly.”

“Here’s my tattoo and the story: we did IVF in January 2012. We transferred 3 embryos. It ended in a chemical pregnancy. My tattoo has “2012″ in the branches to represent the year of our loss, as well as a “3″ in the bottom left corner to represent the three embryos we transferred and lost. I chose the picture of the bird in the tree because I love the song “Blackbird” by The Beatles. My brother played it on the guitar as I walked down the aisle to marry my husband. Back then, the lyrics ‘All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise’ resonated with me. During this whole journey, the lyrics ‘take these broken wings and learn to fly’ were a reminder that this does not define me nor will it destroy me. I got the tattoo on the inside of my left wrist six months after our loss.”

Catie shared a wonderful story about how she and her mom Kelly got matching tattoos:

A mother-daughter bond of love, told in ink.

A mother-daughter bond of love, told in ink.

“Here are my Mom’s and my tattoo. Its a simple version of the infertility awareness symbol. Mine says BELIEVE, because I have to always remind myself to believe that I WILL be a mother (one way or another). My Mom’s is actually written in Irish, and it says FAITH, HOPE, LOVE because she wanted to support our journey and she says that’s what it takes. They are on our left palms so that they are visible to us and everyone else, and people can ask what they’re for. I love them!”

And finally, Anasara sent this picture of her bumptious looking pomegranate tattoo:

"Pomegranates, a longstanding symbol of fertility, serve as a strong analogy to those of us dealing with infertility."

“Pomegranates, a longstanding symbol of fertility, serve as a strong analogy to those of us dealing with infertility.”

“I got my infertility tattoo in late 2011 prior to undergoing our 1st IVF cycle. It was my 8th tattoo overall (#9 is scheduled for my birthday in April) so I’m no stranger to the needle even before infertility, LOL! Although all my tattoos have special meaning, this one was by far the most cathartic to get. I think it had to do with finally ackowledging the fact we were entering “the final frontier” (to my DH & I) of ART since IUIs never worked. I wanted something that was both beautiful and yet not obvious to the world, not for privacy’s sake (I’ve been ‘out’ as an infertile since we started seeing an RE almost 4 years ago) but so people would ask me ‘why a pomegranate?’ and I would get to educate them on the meaning.” Read Anasara’s full post about her tattoo here .

Do you have a tattoo honoring your journey so far? Thinking about getting one? And what do you think about getting a tattoo in general? Share your thoughts in the comments and link up to any blog posts you might have about your own tattoos!

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