I never imagined myself with a tattoo and certainly didn’t think I would add more ink after the first. But it’s true that you can use your body as a journal – with each tattoo becoming an entry. And each tattoo has layers. The first being the where, who, what and when story. Where did you get this one? Who were you with? What did you do and when did you do it? Every time I look at either of mine, I can instantaneously rattle off those answers. And 100% of the time, those answers make me smile.
The next layer is the why. And for meaningful, purposeful tattoos like mine, the why is a proclamation. My first tattoo was in remembrance of my Meme. If you’re interested in the backstory, feel free to read an old post here. The newest ink was acquired in November last year. And sure, you could look at it and say, “Oh. It’s an arrow with a date in the middle. Cool. Basic.” But every line, dot and stroke tells a far deeper story each time I glance down at my arm.
The short version: an arrow with Coven’s birthday. The below surface level version: goes a little something like this.
3am. Strange bodily fluid wake up call. Stumble to bathroom hunched over. Blood. Why am I bleeding? Call doctor. Nothing to be alarmed about. Due date still days away. It’s all natural. Back to bed. Google everything flying in and out of my brain. Up again. And again. 6am. Lying in silence next to my husband. Watching him sleep. Telepathically trying to wake him up to tell him it’s time. 7am. He’s finally awake. First words. “I think I’m in labor.” Call doctor. Prepare to go in to be checked. Try to get ready in between contractions. Grab pre-packed bags. Kiss Scottie goodbye. Drive to hospital is filled with phone calls preparing family. “I think they’ll send us back home once we get here but just wanted to let you know.” Famous last words.
Doctor checks cervix and says “You’re having a baby today.” Head to hospital to be admitted. Waiting for a bed is like waiting for St. Peter to open the pearly gates. Pace. Puke. Fetal position in the chair. Repeat. An hour passes. Finally a bed. Usual fear of needles has vanished as the contractions have intensified. Nine months of hyperemesis has reached a pinnacle. Give me drugs. Hospital room. IVs. Wires. Monitor. Settle in. Watching heartbeats in sync.
Room begins to fill with loved ones. Dad. Andrew. Mom. Ah, Mom. She’s here. Almost as relieving as the epidural. Back rubs. Cold washcloth. Ice cubes. Hair ties. Pillar of support statued next to my bed. Thumb increases the medicine drip as the pain escalates. Lay this way. Lay that way. Exercise ball between the knees. Check dilation. More waiting. Vitals are good. We’re ready when you are baby boy.
Friends pour in. Donuts. Hand holding. Silent prayers over the process. Laughter. Another check. Time to push. Reality rushes in. Game face on. Long delivery projected. They were wrong. Mom on one side. Chase on the other. Encouragement leaves every mouth. Worship music enters every ear. “Holy Spirit, you are welcome here.” Doctor says “We can see his head. Want to feel?” First touch of the human I’ve watched grow inside my stomach. The top of his hairy head. Motivation to push harder. Be stronger. I am desperate to meet him. Push. Breathe. Push. Breathe. Push. Unmistakable cry. Perfection from within me now being held above me. My arms extended. Skin to skin. Laying on my chest. Our eyes lock. 8:57pm. We pushed the pause button on life. And when we pressed play, nothing was ever the same. Coven Taylor Erwin, welcome to your world. I’m your mom. It’s an honor to meet you.
An arrow can only be released by first pulling it back. And sometimes back can be a very long way. 9 years. There were few arguments. Maybe the problem. Maybe if we had been fighting it would have meant there was something to fight harder for. The silence resulted in compounded resentment. Lies guarded with lock and key. Broken vows. Misguided hearts. We watched the life we built burn to smoldering ashes in the hot August sun. Instant strangers with a baby.
Showers are optional. Tears are not. Go to bed together. Wake up alone. Feet on the floor. Straight to the knees. Praying for a miracle. Praying for a change of heart. Praying for a revelation. Praying for forgiveness. Praying for the boy in the next room. The days begin and end with confusion. And regret. Ashamed. Sweep up fragmented heart pieces. Realize every other weekend one piece is missing.
One little boy can only be in one place at one time. The silence is deafening. The void is all consuming. Unable to turn off ‘Mom Mode.’ Leave the handprints on the glass. The toys scattered. Mental note to memorize sounds. Pitter pattering feet up and down the hall. Sing one more lullaby. Read one more story. Rock and told tight just a little longer.
The old life is extinguished. The future envisioned is torched. A new reality sets in. One revolving around color coordinated calendars and pick up/drop off times. Stripped of the spouse titled. Given one of single mom. Pray for strength. Pray for wisdom. Pray for acceptance. Pray for the boy who is always separated from someone he loves.
An arrow can only be released by first pulling it back. And when life pulls you back, it simply means you’re launching into something amazing. Hardly seems amazing. It’s a mindset. No-one actively chooses to become a statistic. Mutual selfishness has a way of rearing its ugly head and cashing in its karma chips. The daily prognosis is determined completely on how you perceive it and what you make of it. Maybe this is the part of the story you find out who you really are. A situation such as this forces the now. Shifts focus from the past and anchors it to today. I trust through experienced faithfulness that mountains are being moved while I wander the valley. A prayer hasn’t been answered the way I hoped but that doesn’t mean it isn’t being heard. This is us today. Now. And we’ll figure it out as a family unit. Broken together. With grace.
My arrow is permanently pointing in a forward direction. The allowance for looking back is over. And that date nestled in between the beginning and end is a reminder that even in the midst of trails and tribulations, there’s a immeasurable reason to keep straight ahead. My life can be summed up in one sentence. It didn’t turn out how I planned and that’s okay.
tattoo by: Paradise Tattoo