Guess what? I got a tattoo this week! Well, to clarify, I’ve had the outline since the fall of 2012, but I got shading and lots of color added in this past week. When I booked the appointment the week before, I could hardly wait. I was so excited to see the end result!
The day of:
I walk into Skinquake promptly for my 3pm appointment on Thursday. A wave of nervousness hits. I think to myself, “Why are you nervous? You’ve gotten a tattoo before. “ I hear my mom’s voice creep in my head, “Would you want that on your arm when you’re ninety?” I shake the negative thoughts away. (By the way, my mom is a very lovely person and actually really likes the tattoo now that she’s seen it in person). My mind instantly jumped to the thought of pain. What would it feel like? How long would I be getting tattooed? Shit, I didn’t bring a friend. Maybe I’ll have a nice, distracting conversation with Colin. In minutes, we discuss the price of the tattoo and my color preferences. And now it’s time. I am going to get this tattoo finished!
I wait anxiously as I sit in the chair at the tattoo parlor, staring at the countless pieces of art hanging on the wall. “Are you ready?” Colin asks. “Yep, let’s do this.” I hear the needle start to buzz.
We talk about life. And my wedding (7 months away!). And what I do for a living. And naturally, we begin to talk about birth. This topic really carries me through the first half of the session. Then, conversation dies down a bit, and we decide to take a small break. I get up to pull my phone out of my coat pocket. I want to take a picture of this. I take the classic selfie with the help of my reflection in the mirror. I feel like a badass. I think I’ll post this to Facebook. Colin comes back in, and we get started again. Facebook continues to provide a nice distraction. People begin to comment on my picture. “NICE!!!” and “WOW! Pretty.” Their positive vibes help me feel better. I jokingly post, “I need a tattoo doula!” A fellow doula and good friend replies, “Breathe, breathe. This won't last forever...the pain I mean. The tattoo SHOULD last a pretty long time, I'm told, but the pain? The pain will pass. Just find your rhythm. That's right. You can do this. You were made for this tattoo.” Amy Beck, you smartass. I love you.
I look up at the clock. It’s going on 5pm. “You know, I’m not sure we can get all of this done today… I need to leave at 6.” I say, “okay,” not really knowing what to feel. A part of me says, “Yes! It was really starting to hurt, maybe coming back later to finish it up will give my skin time to heal.” Another part of me says, “Noooo! We must do this today, or it will take me another few months before I end up back in this chair.” Now I begin to look at the clock every 5 minutes. Time.starts.dragging. And unfortunately, my phone battery is dying. Social media cannot save me now.
I start to breathe more deeply. I close my eyes and I focus on my breaths. As I turn inward, I realize I’m tensing up. How long have I been tense like this? I attempt to relax, allow my arms to hang loosely, and let the man finish his masterpiece. WFIU is playing in the background and the sound of very mellow music drifts through the parlor. I doze off once or twice. My high endorphin levels provide comfort.
“Alright, we’ve just got this bit on the back of your arm left. I’ll need you to lay on your stomach so I can reach it, if that’s okay.” Change positions?! Okay, I’ll do it. But how long do I have to lie like this? I won’t be able to see the clock. Is that a good thing? I take one last glance at the clock before flipping over. 5:40. Oh, twenty minutes? I got this. That is, if he’ll be DONE in twenty minutes. My mind wanders and I start to worry about having to come back in again.
…tick tock tick tock… (that’s an exaggeration—I couldn’t actually hear the clock ticking).
In what felt like five minutes, I hear Colin say, “Alright, we did it! It’s finished!” He stands up to clean his work area. I feel a smile creep across my face. I did it! And it feels so damn good.
So…is getting a tattoo like birthing a baby? Well, probably not. BUT I do think they carry preparation and advice that run parallel: