It was the emptiness that scared me.
I felt like I’d removed a body part, like a hand or an elbow. Ten months had passed since I’d given birth to my son, and I still felt hollow.
This feeling was so overwhelming that I’d burst into tears at the strangest of moments: in line at the grocery store, at a Mommy and Me class, during Game of Thrones. His birth left a void that none of the baby books had mentioned. They’d certainly taken care to warn me that my kid would cry, but they’d neglected to mention that I might be a watery mess.
I missed the baby in my belly. How was I going to fill the void that birthing my son had left?
It seemed that most women were thrilled to give birth to their babies. They easily crossed the threshold from pregnant lady to baby-wearing Mama. Then there was me — feeling feelings that Google searches could not describe.
During middle-of-the-night feedings, the emptiness would greet me as a sincere loss. My mind would drift back to my time being pregnant. I longed for that quiet connection when it was just the two of us.
I was surprised because I did not love being pregnant. My pregnancy glow consisted of constant upper lip sweat achieved from waddling to the bathroom every 7.8 seconds. I spent a great deal of time in bed, clown-sized feet elevated, snacking on saltines.
In cozy moments, though, the baby in my belly and I got to know each other. I’d watch his hiccups make tiny earthquakes and marvel at itty-bitty feet kicking my ribs.
I may not have loved being pregnant, but I loved being pregnant with him.
I was ecstatic to meet my son — even though holding him in my arms was remarkably different from holding him in my body. I fell in love hard and fast. We smiled and giggled together when we weren’t eating or sleeping. I felt like a part of my insides had come to greet me on the outside. I reveled in every moment of us.
Then, like a monster under the bed, the sadness made itself known. It crept out from its hiding place beneath the love, and there it stayed.
You Might Also Like: No, My Tattoos And Piercings Do Not Make Me A "Bad Mom"
In an effort to understand this strange melancholy, I went back to journaling. Journals had helped me through break-ups and break-throughs, so I figured it would be a surefire way to get rid of my sadness.
I wrote about my pregnancy and discovered too late that it hadn’t been so bad. I didn’t mind all the peeing, and I especially loved the “eating for two.” (I just wasn’t enjoying the weight gain for one.) More than that, I loved that baby inside. Once my son had left my body, I’d lost him from my world to the real world. The tears flowed when I wrote that we would never share that intimate connection again.
I called one of my best mom friends, and although she listened, she did not share my experience. It was hard baring my soul only to find I was alone in my feelings. Instead of this talk bringing me out of my blues, I felt worse. I confided in my husband. He listened, but since he is inherently uterus-free, he had a hard time identifying.
The emptiness lingered. What else could I try?
It was a strange idea that popped into my head that night, but even stranger was the instant relief it gave me. I had no idea if it would be a solution or just another step down this bumpy road to figuring out my post-baby blues, but I was willing to give it some thought: a tattoo. People got tattoos all the time to commemorate special events, so why not pregnancy? Still, I was doubtful. Those hurt! But I’d gone through back labor and a C-section, so I was confident I could handle it. When I came up with the image and felt excitement, I decided to do it.
I now have a beautiful blue butterfly tattoo on my arm. A butterfly because the week I found out I was pregnant, butterflies appeared. Like magic, they seem to follow me everywhere — to the backyard, to my OBGYN appointment, to the bathroom. I chose blue because it’s my favorite color and for the baby boy I carried.
I wasn’t sure a tattoo would help me move through the hollowness, but I’m glad I spread my wings and took that chance.
As it turns out, I needed a tangible reminder to help honor and keep close the special connection my son and I shared. It worked. The emptiness never returned. My tattoo, my son, and I are all connected. Now I’m able to carry that reminder with me forever — even when I can no longer carry my son.