Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 01:58AM
My son's birth (extraction) story is too long, and probably too graphic to have on the site, so I'll give you links to it and let you decide if you want to link it there (I wouldn't post it outright... WAY too long!).
My first son, Jericho, died of a fatal abnormality called Classic Potter's Syndrome. There is no cure or treatment, he was born without kidneys and the cells which make them never developed. He died peacefully, without tubes and wires, in his father's arms. 50% of babies affected with it are stillborn, and the rest pass within hours of birth, mothers carrying babies afflicted do not carry beyond 35 weeks. While my son lived about an hour... I never got to see him alive due to medical mismanagement of my unnecessary cesarean. I fought, but not hard enough, and he was taken from me while I lay unconscious on a cold slab. I was so disconnected from the experience that it took over a year for the grief to truly hit. He was 34 weeks to the day when he arrived. A little early, but chubby and a head full of long black hair.
The doctor and nurses that tended to me that night were very unkind, and when I received his handprints the following day it was clear they hadn't even tried to give me something clear. They didn't even bother to unfold his fingers, even inking the top of his knuckles instead. It was pathetic. What I got was partial, smudged and barely classifies as a set of prints. It was devastating.
When I was pregnant with him he favoured one side; he always sat there, bum down, pushing against this one spot on my inner hip. I know now that it was his hand that I was feeling. None of my other babies have favoured a spot quite like he did.
When he was taken from my body the only mark that was left behind was an ugly scar. Every time I looked at it I felt angry and depressed: I didn't remember my surgery, I didn't remember his last kicks, his last breath, or see his face while he was still alive. I was angry that it was all I had, and I hated to see it. I still hate it. I wished he'd left something real, like stretch marks, or even padding from the extra weight... instead the surgeons carved me bare and replaced his memory with their disgusting sense of vanity. I desperately wanted something of his to be left on my body; something other than a scar from a surgery that I didn't have any part of, didn't want, and didn't need.
I decided I wanted a tattoo of his handprint in his favourite place. Unfortunately, because the prints were so mangled it took me years of canvasing tattoo artists to find one talented enough to say they would attempt to reconstruct it. Everyone I asked said they couldn't draw the details of a print and at best it would look like a "paint blob" with no definition or individuality... just a generic baby hand.
I finally made the appointment a few weeks ago when I found someone special. The artist I chose took his partial set of prints, and a template that my best friend had provided from her newborn daughter (she was one of the only people present at his birth and death, so having her involved is special to me) and reconstructed his hand using tracings, one little curve at a time. She painstakingly kept all his palm lines in tact (the only part of his prints that was preserved!) and made such a perfect reproduction that it really does look like he pressed his hand into ink and touched me.
Now when I look at my stomach, the scar doesn't look quite as bad... It's still horrible to see, and hard to imagine it's really there, but at least now there is a part of my son there too. This is his place, and he has finally made his mark.
The first photo, the smaller and uncensored black and white, is one I took less than a month following the surgery: I was trying to show how the scar made me feel.
The second is from the day after I received my tattoo. The scar looks exactly the same as it did almost 5 years ago... but it feels different today.