I have four body modifications: two lobe ear piercings (standard in the US), a nose piercing (almost fairly common), and a tattoo (also fairly common even in the location I have mine). My ear piercings were done before I was a year old and my mom’s best friend took me on a whim one day. I love having them done and I wear earrings every single day. But my other three modifications have a very special story.
My nose piercing was done almost a year ago now. I was in the deepest of my depression after my son’s death that past November. I hated looking in the mirror and seeing the same person as before but knowing I was completely different. Sayre’s death changed me in ways I am still discovering. I usually compare it to steel being tempered, it was a months long process of strengthening. I’d always loved nose piercings on other people and, after binge watching many YouTube videos and looking up local places that did piercings, I called and was told to come on in. My husband, friend, and her mom went with me. I was nervous but I wanted the change. My feeling was that nothing could hurt my body like my soul was hurting. Not even five minutes later, I walked out with my nose pierced.
I still love my nose piercing, the little diamond winking in the light. It reminds me that I was brave, if even for a moment, and I can feel my son with me when I look in the mirror. This woman with her nose pierced was someone new and I recognized her far better than the old me.
My daughter, Aurora, died in June. I only got to have her for 8 weeks so she always seemed like a dream. Gone before I could fully process she’d ever been here. Two days before her due date, so sad and bitter all of my miscarriage friends were pregnant but me, I pulled into my driveway after school and decided I needed to see her on me too. I wear rings for each of my children every single day, but I didn’t have anything permanent on my body for Aurora like I did Sayre. I’ve always loved finger tattoos on other people and I always said I wouldn’t get a tattoo unless it meant a lot to me. I decided on a sprig of rosemary: an ancient symbol of loss, mourning, and love. Perfect for my sweet girl. The tattoo artist, Andrea at Wildwood Flower Tattoo in Richmond, was incredibly sweet and said she’d come in early for me the next day since ginger tattoos are so fast. I asked one of my amazing seniors to draw the design for me. I wanted everything about this tattoo to be symbolic and special, a mark of change and love just as motherhood is. Sweet Sylvia drew the perfect sprig of rosemary and I took it to my appointment the next day.
I laid on the table and watched as Andrea drew Sylvia’s design on to the side of my left middle finger and felt nervous but very at peace with my decision. I chose my left hand because I hold babies in my left arm and I wanted to always be holding my daughter like I never got the change to in life. And my middle finger was chose because, if I close my fingers, you can’t see the tattoo. I wanted it there for me and I’m a teacher so it couldn’t be too visible. I wanted to see the tattoo every day and know Aurora had been real, if even for 8 weeks.
The tattooing didn’t hurt, the most sensitive place felt like a cat scratch and the rest felt like someone drawing on me with a fine tip pen. Andrea and I talked the entire time and I found out she uses the same midwife as me (shout out to Dee, the MVP of midwifery) and had also had a miscarriage before her son. It was amazing to have someone who understood be the one placing the tribute to my daughter on my body. Everything about the process felt very sacred and destined, like this was how it was always meant to go.
I walked out with a perfect sprig of rosemary on my finger and I smile every time I look at it. I see my daughter and I see who I am now. Just like her brother, Aurora changed me forever. She brought me back to life and saved me and now I honor her by showing the world she lived. I carry my children on my body and I will proudly show the world they lived for as long as I draw breath.