The One With The Third Petal
TRIGGER WARNING . . .This blog post includes content surrounding miscarriage and infant loss which may be triggering to those who have experienced it.
If you read my blog posts regularly, observe my daily social media antics or - and yes I know it's a bit 'out there' - if you actually know me in person, then you'll know I'm a glass half-full kinda gal.
Yes, I'll be the first to help you wallow in your shit if need be, but I usually, ultimately, find a way to shine a light on it too. As much as some folks' coping mechanisms might be having a good bitch or a moan, I simply can't help looking for the positives. Annoying, I know.
I've got better, in recent years, at really allowing myself to feel crappy when I need to. Gone are the days of papering over wounds with sunshine and rainbows because I've learned the hard way that if not properly dealt with, the wounds will reopen and hurt even more. So now that my forties have graced me with a good deal of wisdom, I'm all for retreating, recouping and retiring if it's going to help me through.
All that said and done, I also know there will be light. Eventually. And that light usually comes from the exact same place where the hurt came from. It's an internal thing. As much as that sunshine and those rainbows are beautiful things in my immediate exterior world, there's no chance I'll be able to appreciate them without some of my own light reaching out to meet them.
This is one of my favourite quotes . . .
. . . And it's so true. I'm not going to write an essay about the many ways I know this to be true, but I will share one, if that's ok?
So back in 2019, the days before COVID rocked the world and we were in blissful ignorance of our imminent demise, I got pregnant. I was 41 years old, ready to give this parenthood thing one more go and the hubby and I were positively giddy with excitement at another little person joining the Yardimci fold.
We've had experience of two miscarriages before, so we knew to be cautious with our emotions. But I ask you, since when, in the history of humanity, has logic ever won out over emotion?
You can read more about my 12-week journey from conception to the first scan in my blog post from the time, but for now I will tell you that it was harsh. I was sick as a dog physically, emotionally and spiritually and this final swing at motherhood was not the thrill I'd intended.
I think you can probably guess the next bit. The scan didn't go well. The scan still haunts my dreams. The scan took a wound that had already healed two times over and ripped it open a third time. And yes, it hurt even more.
Miscarriage is such a strange, sad thing. Ultimately, you're grieving for something - or someone - you never really had. You're grieving for a life imagined, a connection only dreamt about. Or is it? I felt that the connection I had with my three babies was more than just a dream. I felt it then and I feel it now. And I know for certain it'll never go away.
After our first two losses, I felt a powerful urge to acknowledge those connections. So I got a tattoo. Obvs. What else do you do when you're in unbearable pain that you want to keep with your forever because although it's horrific, it's also kind of beautiful? Tattoo artists everywhere know this to be true. The photo below being a case in point.
Feeling 10% better seemed like a good deal to me so I had a think about what kind of image would be suitable. The hubby has called me 'Gulazer' (meaning 'Yellow Rose' in Kurdish) pretty much since the day we first kissed. If you've read my third book, Everything Is Yours, this will not be news to you and you'll understand why the tattoo had to involve a yellow rose. But how to represent my ghostly experience of motherhood to those two precious souls?
I wanted something that I knew was symbolic of what had happened, but that somebody else would only know if I felt in the mood to explain.
So in the end I opted for what you see below. A yellow rose on the back of my neck, with two little petals cascading down from the flower. I loved the idea that the petals were still a part of me but just floating on the wind now, instead of nestled in with the rest of the bloom.
I had ideas to go back and have some curly-wurly roots added at a later date, so it would seem that even if the two petals landed on the ground, they'd become part of the mulch and the goodness and the nutrients that keep me / the yellow rose alive. That felt comforting. I told the tattoo artist, Neil, to expect me back in the not too distant future.
What I didn't know then, was that when I went back, I'd be having another petal added.
When that third miscarriage happened at the end of 2019, the thought of the third petal swooped into my mind pretty quickly. It seemed like the stinging, jabbing sensation of the tattoo needle could well be the antidote I needed to the emotional pain that was tearing through me anyway. I would have had my sick, twisted way too, if it wasn't for a mass epidemic sweeping through the world and shutting everything down. Damn COVID. Spoils all the fun.
Long story short, I finally got my appointment with the lovely Neil, who now runs Midnight Blue Tattoo in Newton Abbot, just a few days after my recent 44th birthday. Finally I could honour the little soul who had floated away from me so peacefully in 2019.
I went 'under the needle' at the same time as my good friend, Hayley, who came along to get her first tattoo. I'd told her how great Neil is . . . a talented artist, of course, but also a lovely, down-to-earth and gentle kind of guy who puts the comfort and happiness of his customers first, as well as having taste in music that extends beyond the usual thrash and crash of intense metal associated with his craft.
And because of Neil's professionalism, Hayley's gorgeous company, and the outstanding numbing properties of a tattoo cream I'd had recommended, the whole thing was a pretty lush experience.
Ever the professional, Neil couldn't bear to leave my tattoo as it was, with three years of fading somewhat dampening the yellow glow of the rose. So he spruced it up a bit as well as added some beautiful roots (which will, mark my words, be extended at a later date) and, of course, the crucial third petal.
What do you think? I absolutely love it.
Hayley was very brave too. After some intense deliberating about the placement of her first ever tattoo (during which Neil displayed the absolute professional composure of a man who has witnessed this problematic contemplation more times than he's had hot dinners), she finally settled on the phases of the moon on the inside of her wrist. I loved Neil's phrasing, when she was trying to decide between her forearm or her wrist and he urged her to go with the one she 'felt more drawn to'. Now that's a man who speaks my language.
After we'd been suitably wrapped in Tesco cling film, Hayley and I resisted the charms of Newton Abbot on a Friday night and opted to go to our local Beefeater where we could a.) toast how damn brave we were and b.) eat our own body weight in proper pub grub. Twas a joyous occasion.
I'm not saying tattoos are the answer to everything, or that they could possibly make ok what happened with my lost babies, but what is powerful - more than we could ever recognise - is taking that pain and creating something beautiful. You hear about it all the time, people who have been through trauma starting projects, ideas, campaigns and movements all in the name of the pain they had to endure. I think it's worth remembering that us humans are incredibly resilient beings and just when we think we are broken in two (or even shattered into a million pieces), we also realise that through the gaping cracks, not only can more light get in, but more light can stream out.
Let's use it.
Flipping heck, I love you all quite a lot, did you know that?
You do now.
If you've been affected by the content in this blog post, please see some links below to help you during times of miscarriage or infant loss:
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