I carried our mini van in my body for ten weeks. The last two weeks were the worst as I knew our sweet pea had already passed. I wanted other people to see me and not be weird. I wanted them to understand, yet I also didn’t want them to have to understand. Nobody should have to understand what I was going through. As the days and weeks passed I longed to talk about our child. I continued in therapy and James and I spoke of our sweet pea all day every day. Our close friends did a great job checking in on me for months. I wanted more. I wanted to tell strangers on the sidewalk that I was a mother. I wanted acquaintances to stop avoiding me. When my favorite cashier at Aldi asked me how I was, I wanted to tell them the truth. I wanted other people to bring up my baby like they would if our child was still alive. Unfortunately that isn’t how our society works.
I decided I needed to do more. If they won’t bring up my baby then I will. If the word miscarriage makes you uncomfortable then be glad, because living it is worse. If my tears make you uncomfortable then be glad you aren’t the one crying them. If you think I bring up my sweet pea too much then GOOD! If you think its weird I talk about my baby a lot then GOOD! Thats what mothers do. I wanted to create a segway for these conversations.
I decided to get a tattoo. It would be a pea pod. I would have a pea pod on my arm and people could naturally inquire about the symbolism. My child died when they were the size of a pea and now we have a talking point. I held my child in my body for ten weeks and now I’ll hold them on my body forever. From the inside of my body to the outside. I’m loving our sweet pea from the inside out.
I researched good tattoo shops in Rotterdam and found myself outside of a brick building covered in graffiti. I walked in for my consultation feeling incredibly out of place. The artist was friendly and asked how he could help. I told him I wanted to honor my child who died when they were inside my body and the symbolism of the pea pod. I showed him images and his response meant everything. “This is so special. Thank you for sharing your child with me.” We continued chatting and as I left the consultation he said, “I do a lot of art– all custom, all original. My favorite is when I get to do something special like this. Thank you for letting me honor your baby.” Tears welled in my eyes as I realized I was already getting what I needed. Here was a perfect stranger offering the most compassion and validating the importance of my child’s life.
“I do a lot of art– all custom, all original. My favorite is when I get to do something special like this. Thank you for letting me honor your baby.”
October 15 is international pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day. James and I honored our little sweet pea by lighting a candle. This being my first time celebrating this day I wanted to make it extra special. From this day forward I would start literally wearing my story on my sleeve. I walked in and the shop owner had already heard my story. He told me about how he and his wife lost twins at 12 weeks. Tears welled in both of our eyes as we realized that gender, race, nationality, nor occupation could stand between parents sharing how they lost their children. I told him that I never knew something so small could devastate my entire identity. His response– “That’s how I know you’re a great mom. A good mom cares for their child no matter how small.”
Getting this tattoo was a way I could honor my first child forever. With this beautiful art on my forearm I get to look down every day and smile as I remember the things my sweet pea has taught me. When James and I decide to have another child and I hold them in my arms they’ll be snuggled tight, laying not only on my arm, but also on the memory of their precious older sibling.