Dear Baby…

Dear Baby,

You’re not a baby anymore. Or you wouldn’t be. Today would have been your 18th birthday. I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things you could have been. I’ll never know what your talents are. What you loved & hated will always be a mystery. Our life together will forever be unknown. I’ve watched so many others mark the milestones in their children’s lives & my thoughts invariably turn to you. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the blanks.

I have dreamt of every minute of your life. Waking from those beautiful fantasies feels like a stab in the heart. Every single time. I hope those dreams are snippets of how our life would have been. I don’t want to think of us as anything other than happy.

So, today you’d be a man. I’m sure you would be wonderful. The kind of person I’d be proud to have raised. I’ll always be proud regardless. Proud that my blood ran in your veins, thankful that your heart beat in me & grateful that we had any time at all.

Big love,

Always,

Mum.

Xx

Go gentle…

This year World Mental Health Day has intersected with Baby Loss Awareness week resulting in lots of media/online talk about both subjects. Obviously, this presses pretty much all of my buttons as my mental health has historically (& currently) been so interconnected with my losses.

I believe society’s discomfort of miscarriage increases the distress experienced by those who live it. Feeling that I could not talk about my loss certainly compounded the trauma of my first miscarriage. There is a massive crossover between mental illness & baby loss, I believe part of that is how we treat people who have to deal with either issue. I also believe that making really simple changes in attitudes would allieviate so much pain. Miscarriage & infant loss will always be horrific, but if we allow people to openly explore & process those losses long term mental illness can be avoided. Or at the very least recognised & treated. 


Miscarriage  & other types of baby loss affect many people. We can all help make their lives easier by following these straight forward suggestions.

1. Acknowledge the loss.

Many people feel so uncomfortable about this kind of loss that they simply don’t acknowledge it. I know that this often comes from a good place, one might fear upsetting a grieving parent or intruding on their privacy.  I get that, but trust me, the silence is worse. If you know that someone has miscarried a simple ‘I am sorry for your loss’ goes a long way. Having people recognise that you have suffered a loss is massive. Too often those of us who have experienced miscarriage are  left feeling that our child only existed for us. Having people in your life affirm that the life you carried was real & had worth is extremely valuable. 

2. Really listen. 

Asking someone how they are, sending love etc is a good gesture, but if you really want help, listen to their response. When I lost my first baby what I really needed was to talk about it. I desperately needed to express how I felt & what I was struggling with, but never felt it was ok to do so. Burying those emotions compounded my trauma & led to a complete breakdown. If someone needs to talk about their experiences, please let them. 

3. Respect the grief.

When you have a miscarriage you grieve. Your grief is not only for the baby you have lost, but also for the life you have been planning. Grief is a very personal thing, everyone does it in their own way & on their own timetable. Wether that involves a memorial service, commemorating an anniversary, a tattoo or even never speaking of it again, please respect that. Don’t judge or rush.  Be supportive of whatever your grieving friend needs . There are no right or wrong ways to heal, even if you feel uncomfortable with someone’s chosen expression of grief. Just be kind & remember it is not your journey.


4. Don’t hide baby news.

I understand the urge to shield loved ones from pain. Certainly be sensitive, but share & celebrate your baby news. I can guarantee that although it may sometimes be painful I never want to dampen anyone’s joy. Losing a baby is hard, but it does not prevent me from being thrilled for other people. Any tears I have to shed will be done in private & are only my concern. I want all good things for everyone that I love. I absolutely adore the beautiful little people my siblings & have friends have been blessed with. I have never met a person who had suffered a loss who felt any differently. 

There you have it. Four straightforward pieces of advice that may lighten the load of someone who is suffering. All you have to do is swallow your discomfort, listen & be respectful. Surely, that’s not too much to ask? 

I wear it like a tattoo….

Body modifications have always appealed to me. I have only gone so far as piercings & tattoos, but more extreme mods still interest me. I’ve experimented quite a bit with piercings from traditional ears to belly button to finger piercings. I’ve had a fair few rejected piercings, but seem to have finally got the found exactly which types my body will accept. I consider my body art to be a big part of my style. I think they perfectly compliment my quirky tastes.

At the moment I have 13 different piercings & I thought I’d give you a look at the more interesting one. I shall start with my scaffold. I’ve had this one for around 3yrs & I love it now. However, it is definitely not the easiest of my piercings. It is a little painful as its two holes through cartilage, but the main issue is healing time. Mine took a long time, well over a year, to be completely healed. If you’re looking for low maintenance perhaps not the thing for you. It does look pretty striking though.
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Next up, my boob piercing. I tend to be drawn to anything that’s a tad unusual. I don’t want to look just like everyone else, which is probably part of why I indulge in body mods in the first place. This is my favourite piercing. Mainly because I’ve never seen anyone else with one & I am told it’s pretty damn sexy. This is a micro dermal, so it’s semi-permanent. My body is unlikely to tolerate it forever, but they can last for several years. I wear a diamanté and I adore the tiny sparkle when wearing low cut outfits. It adds to funky twist to a little black dress.

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I have another couple of micro dermals sitting just below my collar bone. I had the first done in Brisbane & it was so cute that I decided to have another when I got home. These beauties have kick started the piercing bug again. I expect I will end up with them dotted all over my body. I wear plain silver jewellery in these as I think the simple look is more effective.

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Tattoos are very personal for me. All of my body art means something very particular. As a writer & an avid reader I have always found the written word to be the easiest & best way to express my feelings, therefore my tats are all text. I have another planned & it too will be words in the form of poetry. So far I have five tattoos. I am incredibly happy with all of them.

My first foray into ink was many years ago. I started with the word imagine on my right foot. I am always being told that foot tattoos are really painful, but that hasn’t been my experience. I didn’t find the foot to be significantly more painful than any other part of my body. I started small & classic, which I think was a wise decision. I am obviously a huge Lennon fan, but also fascinated with the power of imagination. I enjoy carrying a little bit of my hero around with me every day. More importantly I have a whisper of my ideals stamped on my body.

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Having dipped my toe into the tattoo world I quickly wanted to immerse myself. I suppose I decided to continue from my feet up, as my next tat was on my left foot. This one was more cathartic as it marks the loss of my baby. I wanted to commemorate my boy without being morbid. I opted for roman numerals of what would have been his date of birth. In the aftermath of my miscarriage I struggled with having very few concrete reminders of my baby. This tattoo helped with the healing process & allowed me to have him visibly with me, always. The art work of this tattoo is again simple, but I find it beautiful.

My next tattoo marks the life of an extraordinary woman. Jo was a very dear friend who tragically took her life. She fought hard against cruel circumstances. No matter how much pain she endured she always brought kindness & warmth to those around her. She saved me & many others; it is an enormous tragedy that we couldn’t do the same for her. Jo was a beautiful person. As a proud New Zealander she would routinely sign off notes & emails with the Maori greeting, arohanui. It means ‘big love’, something she always endeavoured to spread. I wanted a tribute to this remarkable friend & arohanui seemed right. I actually chose characters from a few complimentary fonts & put them together in the hope of making my tattoo unique. Aesthetically I think it works. As an act of love I feel it succeeds too.

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I am keen on an element of balance, so I placed my fourth tattoo on my opposite arm. This piece is inspired by favourite poetry & prose. The fact that this line appeared in two favourite works is a lovely coincidence. It makes the quote doubly dear to me. I studied the cycle of poetry, die schone mullerin by Wilhelm Müller at university and was struck by the beauty of the words. Shortly after my first exposure I discovered ‘the travelling hornplayer’ by Barbara Trapido and revelled in the way she referenced the poetry. This line stood out as it reflected the tone of my own life at that time. It accurately expressed things I had been scrambling to put to into words. The melancholy, romance & hope infused in the words sung to me. I knew I wanted to mark my body with it. To add a piece of me to the design I had the tattoo in my own hand writing. Again hoping that this ensured no one would ever have an identical piece.

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the stars are too high

 

My most recent body art is taken from the bible. An odd choice for a person who rejects organised religion. It’s taken from Isiah, but has no religious connotations for me. My gran was a practising catholic & this quote hung on a plaque by her front door. It’s something I vividly remember from my childhood. These simple words embody so much of what my gran meant to me. They say love, safety & acceptance. They also encapsulate the lasting influence our relationship has had on me.

 

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I will never forget you

I have carved you on the palm of my hand.

 

Sade Like a tattoo