Sunday, August 28, 2011

A memorial tattoo, I think

Ted, my step daughter and I were in Costco today. Shortly after we walked in, I noticed a tattoo on a woman's back, between her shoulder blades. It had the name "Emma", baby footprints under it, and then a date in April 2011 under the footprints. My heart started beating faster. My first thought was that it was a memorial tattoo. I walked by the woman and turned to look at her. She looked tired and her eyes looked puffy, but I could have been reading too much into it. There was no baby there with her. She was with a man and he didn't have a baby. I got a closer view of the tattoo and the footprints weren't the size of a full-term baby. Maybe a baby about 7-8 months gestation, but I could be wrong about that.

We walked by them and I told Ted what I saw and that I really wanted to go and say something to her, but would it be weird? He said that he knows that I want to, and I should go and do it. So I did. I never would have done something like this, going and talking to a stranger about something on them, before Jacob died.

So I went back to where I saw them and walked next to her. I said that I noticed her tattoo and that it is really nice. She said thank you. I asked if it was for her daughter and she said yes and said thank you again.

I really wanted to know more. Was the baby alive? Was it a memorial tattoo? I know someone at work who got a similar tattoo (minus the footprints) for her son, who is alive and well. But I felt like this woman might not want to talk about it. Maybe she didn't want to take the chance of breaking down in Costco. Maybe there was nothing to break down about and her baby was home, alive and well with her grandparents.

I just smiled back at her and walked away, hoping they would notice the tattoo on my ankle. They might realize that I've lost a baby too. Did she think about it after and wonder what prompted me to come to her and say that or did she not think about it much at all?

For about half an hour after, I went over what else I could have said. How could I ask about her baby without saying the wrong thing. How do you ask someone if their baby is alive or dead based on their tattoo?

I imagined a stranger coming up to me and commenting on my tattoo. Would I have answered by saying "thank you, it is for my son who passed away"? Probably not, I would have just said thank you and hoped that they asked more.

What would you have done? Would you have asked more? How would you have worded it?


Julie said...

I really want to get a memorial tattoo for Kenny, but where I want it is on my ankle. The problem is that we have a strict professional dress code, and w/ a tattoo there I wouldn't be able to wear capri pants to school anymore, and I wear them for the first and last months of the school year. I'd be miserable having to wear long pants all year long. And what about on days when we have to dress up? Ankle-length skirts and dresses? I don't think so! I, too, occasionally notice baby tattoos on other women, and sometimes have wondered if it's a memorial tattoo I'm looking at.

Elaine said...

I think just the fact that you mentioned it probably meant a lot to her. You know if it were one of us we would have been on here right after saying how thoughtful it was of this stranger! I see things like that a lot more lately, names and dates and angel wings. I always wonder now if they are for a baby. I can't wait to get Blaine's tattoo, I have it all planned out for the top of my foot, just working up the nerve.

K said...

Hi Dana. I just wanted to tell you that I think about you all the time. I think about you, Ted, Jacob and your babies. I have been out of sight, just trying to deal, but you're not alone ever.

Becky said...

I am in the process of creating a tattoo for Liam. I see me and Elaine have the same idea as I wanted to also get mine on the top of my foot.
I have not ran into anyone yet with a visible tattoo that could or could not signify babyloss. I am not sure what I would say though if I did see something that could represent that. I know I would want to ask about it, but I might not know what to say for fear of upsetting a person in a public setting or what if its for there live baby.

Drew's Parents said...

I think it is so nice that you asked the woman about her tattoo. I wonder if it was indeed a memorial tattoo. I probably would have done the same thing that you did. You opened up the conversation. Had she wanted to tell you more she easily could have. You didn't keep pressing though, which I imagine she appreciated (since she didn't give you a lot of detail). I know you must be anxious for the day when someone opens up that conversation for you and your Jacob <3 Love you!

Heather said...

In the 2 1/2+ years since Logan died I have seen many tattoo's, many memorial tags on cars, and even a memorial in someones front yard. An angel holding a baby, and some words. Most of these I assumed were memorials. Somehow you just get that feeling. I always wished for some physical sign to have on me, so that people would know there were two other children who should be walking next to my daughter and I. I wanted people to know, someone to ask me. The closest I got was that someone planted bulbs at the base of Logan's tree at the park the year he died. There is a plaque there. Wanted. Loved. Missed. Jan 24 2009. They knew. And they planted him flowers, and knowing that someone else knew...a complete stranger, who had taken the time to acknowledge my son's death...made me a smidge less sad. I would ask. Most of the time I offer my story first, and many a people have told me..."I too had a stillborn". Sometimes it helps knowing that there are other's like me right here in my little corner of the world.