Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The state of my belly

As the end of my fifth month nears, it is becoming increasingly clear that I'm pregnant and not just carrying around a little extra weight. I couldn't wait for this day. I was frustrated with the in-between stage where none of my regular pants fit, but I wasn't yet filling out most of my maternity wear.

Now it's official: I have a baby bump.

All of the literature I've read says that, "if it hasn't already," my bellybutton is about to "pop." Apparently much like a turkey timer. What those books don't understand is that I don't just have an innie. I have a cavernous innie that I'm pretty sure a miniature explorer could traverse and end up in China. It's that deep.

I'm sure my challenging this notion will give the baby a little added incentive to give the back of my navel a swift and decisive kick, turning my bellybutton hole inside out for all to see. But at this point, I'm just enjoying what may end up being the last remnants of my once fairly attractive midsection.

Oddly enough, all of it reminds me of my 18th birthday. When I hit that government milestone, I wanted to do everything that legally opened up to me. Well, everything other than join the military and have sex. I wasn't mature enough for either of those things. So on the actual day of my birthday, I got a tattoo and bought a bunch of lottery tickets. At the time, it felt like a rite of passage.

When I sat down in the tattoo artist's chair, I asked for a very small purple star tattoo on my left foot, just above my smallest two toes. I don't remember the woman's name or much about her except that she had long pink dreadlocks, was covered in body art and wore the most phenomenal nail polish color of all time. It was a deep dark red that I felt would define me perfectly. Fortunately, she had the bottle at her work station. It was Loreal's Vixen. She wrote it down for me and I've been wearing it during the winter ever since.

She also explained that it was the parlor's policy not to tattoo hands and feet. Apparently the increased circulation in those areas causes the body to "heal" the tattoo more quickly, often altering the color and crispness of the edges.

Then she asked me for my second choice.

I was severely disappointed that it couldn't go on my foot. In the weeks leading up to my birthday, I had been using pens and markers to draw a star right where I wanted it during my study hall period. Later, when I got home, I'd try on different sandals to see how it would look that summer. It was awesome.

So I'm surprised that having to choose something different didn't dissuade me. My next choice somehow became the spot above my bellybutton. Yes. I could wear little midriff tops and get a matching two-piece purple bathing suit. It would look awesome.

"Are you planning on having any kids?"


"Do you want kids?" the tattoo artist asked. "Because if you do, that thing will stretch and bloat and it won't ever look the same. You'll hate it."

To an 18 year old who hadn't gotten past second base, mostly hated men and vowed never to get married, it seemed like an absurd question. Babies were out of the question. They cry and poop and, well, cry and poop. Who wants that?

Even though I told her I wasn't planning on having any kids, this was a woman with a little more worldly experience than I gave her credit for at the time. She probably took one look at my outfit and my giggling friends who came with me and immediately knew that I was a middle-class suburban teen who thought having a minuscule tattoo would make me rebellious even though I held a steady part-time job to earn money for college, received honor roll grades and sang in the school choir.

So she asked for my third choice.

After giving it much thought, I asked for it on my lower left back. That was when waistlines weren't inches above the butt crack, so it's actually about six inches higher than it would've been if I had turned 18 during the low-rise revolution.

Being a bit of a wuss, it hurt like hell, but I felt cool and unique and individual. I was the first of almost anyone in my grade to get body art thanks to my February birthday and I couldn't wait to show it off to all my friends.

Today, more than a decade later, I mostly forget it's even there. Occasionally, I use a mirror to check it out and laugh. It's really kind of a joke. Sure, I still love it in a "ode to my youth" sort of way. I mean, that little mark captures who I was at that time in my life. But if Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser sponge worked on skin, I'd rub it into oblivion without giving it a second of hesitation.

I certainly don't regret it, but if I ran into that tattoo artist on the street today, I would wrap my arms around her and gush my gratitude. The only reason I don't regret it is because I don't have to look at it on a daily basis. I didn't have to worry about it on my wedding day. Or when I went on job interviews. Or when I get dressed every day.

I would hate it on my foot. And now, as my belly stretches to never-before-seen proportions, I would HATE it there more than anything. More than being tied to a chair and being forced to watch all 47 Rocky movies in succession.

But at the time, I'm sure I was a little regretful that I wasn't more forceful about getting the tattoo on my naval. Perhaps that's why I got my bellybutton pierced in college. Well, plus it was the thing to do in the late '90s: grunge music, flannel and metal studs through fleshy parts of your skin.

I wore it with pride for many years and occasionally changed from hoop to stud and even to sparkly ghetto rhinestones for my honeymoon. It felt like a part of me as much as my earring holes did. Although, that's changed, too. I've gone from wearing three earrings in each ear to one. I took the rest of them out on my wedding day and just never put them back in. I guess I now prefer the look of one fabulous pair of statement-making earrings rather than cluttering my ears with tiny hoops and studs.

My belly stud was a non-issue until my midsection started growing. And even though my bellybutton hasn't "popped," the stud was getting a little tight. Besides, it started to show a little metal indentation under my clothes for the first time. And I'll be the first to tell you that it looks hideous under a bridesmaid dress.

So, on the morning of Jen's wedding, I reluctantly took out my belly ring. Well, Jerry took out my belly ring. With the help of two sets of pliers. That sucker was screwed on tight.

It didn't hurt physically as much as it affected me psychologically. Sure, I know it's time. I know a belly ring probably looks ridiculous on a pregnant woman. But I can't shake the feeling that I'm permanently leaving behind a part of me I'll never know again. Carefree, fun, spontaneous, tattoo-seeking, bellybutton-pierced, childless Kelly.

Fortunately, Jerry understood. He likened it to him getting his hair cut. He's had his rockstar long locks for years and the day he inevitably cuts it off, whether its months or years from now, will be monumental.

So, as we got out the camera to take my 19 week belly shot, we documented the last day of my belly ring, as well. I jokingly formed a heart with my hands to send it off with a loving gesture.

Goodbye belly ring. I'll always keep you as a memento.

Then again, I certainly don't want to pass you down through the generations.

So, um, I'm sure our garbage haulers are cool.

I heart you, belly ring.

19 weeks
19 weeks. This so looks like it should hurt.


Anonymous said...

Your belly button ring is so cute it almost makes me want to get one.

lovechild420 said...

I miss my navel ring :( I too, have a cavern for a belly button & mine never did 'pop' but I did wait until last minute to remove the stud. However, I would like to point out that even after 7 months post-labor my belly button still hurts a bit on the inside sometimes.. It's really strange..

julie said...

I love the heart picture. Too cute.

I stupidly got a tattoo on my lower abdomen. First thing my mom said when she saw it was "If you ever have a baby, I can't wait to see that when you're 8 months pregnant." Wouldn't you know I met Mat just two weeks later? Figures.

Guess I'll just get it covered after I'm done makin' babies.

kristin said...

I didn't know removing belly jewelry was going to be a part of moving through life's stages. I don't know if I will be able to handle that one...

The baby bump is so cute :)

Jenni said...

I'm going to hate having to remove mine... :-(

Jennifer said...

You baby bump is beautiful, and you are right, you look offically pregnant now.

I have a tattoo on my belly area, lower right side, somewhat near my hip. I got it knowing I wanted more children, but during my entire pregnancy with my most recent child I worried to death it would be ruined. Thankfully it isn't ruined and still looks wonderful. PHEW! (I took pictures of it every month of my pregnancy and kept them on my website which was fun!)

Becoming a mom is a big step in life and in some ways you will never be the same again, you are right. Everyone tells you over and over again "Having a baby changes your life forever" and you think you hear it so much that you understand what it means. It even seems cliche. But it isn't until you hold that child that you truely understand. You are still yourself but you get to be yourself and something so much more too. Its the most wonderful thing in the entire world and I'm so happy you get to experience it!

Melinda said...

Just fyi, they do make pregnancy belly rings, which are pretty much a very long flexible plastic stud.

But, I think you made the right decision to grow up a bit in life. I know you will be right there with Jerry if he ever needs to cut his hair! And you will be able to show that little child pictures "of Daddy back when he used to be cool!"

Leslie said...

I got rid of the belly ring when I almost ripped it out entirely. I want it back. I miss it.

I have a tattoo on my lower right abdomen as well. And I absolutely love it. Even after I have kids and such, I think I will still love it. I'm very attached. In fact, I want another tattoo. Still. I wanted my first one for about four years. If I want the second one for that many years as well, then maybe I'll get it.


that plainsman said...

Kudos to "Ms. Pink Dreadlocks," her outward apearance belied her keen responsibilty and ethics.

Although you may be leaving a part of yourself behind, especially some visual markers, or may be just recognizing that you already have, I'm confident you will find much still inwardly the same, even if expressed in different ways.

The visual image of Jerry operating over you, performing the "belly button stud-ectomy" with two pairs of pliers in hand is one for the hollywood movie version of that book.

Candi said...

Awww, the suckiness. I love the belly ring. I'd cry having to give it up, lol.

Chelsea said...

Oh man everyone in my grade can't stop talking about their first tattoo because we'll all be 18 next year. I already know a few people who are getting their's this summer,inluding one who wants a heart on her foot, right where you wanted yours. Sorry, about the belly ring, but I bet if you have a girl you'll let her have one!

Wallaby75 said...

I too have a cavernous innie. Big Guy can lose his pinkie finger up to the first joint in it. It never did "pop" but I did get to see what it looked like at the bottom of the cavern towards the end of my pregnancies.

Marina said...

This is why it makes me sad that my 18 year old acquaintance, who is extremely suggestible and insecure, just got a piercing. After being with a guy who has lots of tats for about 2 weeks. That'll be a nice little regret in a year or two. It doesn't really make sense to me that you can't drink until you're 21, but you can get a tattoo, which is permanent, when you're 18. Shouldn't this be the other way around?

I took my belly ring out last week too. :( It made me sad, but my skin was rejecting it for some reason, so it was starting to look a bit ridiculous. Stupid "skin."

Last but not least...you look great. :)

Anonymous said...

Don't think of yourself as not being fun anymore. It will just be a different kind of fun.

You can't deny that watching your baby grow up and discover new things won't be one of the most thrilling experiences of your life. And when then get older and you can embarrass them, the party never stops.


Jessica said...

Yea for the baby bump! I didn't start to show until around 22 weeks. By the end I was huge but my belly button never popped!

Heidi said...

I took mine out last week too, for the exact same reasons! I didn't document it though... In fact, I don't think I have any pictures of it at all!!!

Maria said...

This is one of my favorite posts so far!

aahcoffee said...

My belly button didn't pop either, so yours may not. And your lady was smarter than the guy who did mine...I have the greek comedy and tragedy masks on my left ankle and I really, really, really wish they were somewhere a lot less visible.

Emilee said...

I have four piercings in one ear, and six in the other, plus my bellybutton and I had my nose for a while too, but took it out. My mom tells me that I'll regret getting my ears pierced so many times when I go looking for a job, but I figure I can either take them out, or it's become so mainstream to have so many piercings that hopefully my employer will have an open mind.

And my coach/teacher has a tattoo of a butterfly on her ankle. When I asked her what it meant, she just laughed and told me that it covers up her old boyfriend's initals. She got the tattoo when she had only been seeing him for 8 months, but they were together for 5 years. I really want a tattoo also, but it reminds me to not get intials. My friend and I plan to get tattoos together when we're 18. Her mom died in May of cancer, and she was like a second mom to me, so we both want to get tattoos that say "hope", I guess we'll see how that works out.

And congrats on having a "real" baby bump now! :]

ajandmac said...

wow. thanks for the picture update! that's so awesome! and...im really really glad with you that there's no giant purple hearts anywhere near your belly. :)

Wendy said...

Yep. I think you now look like you miht be having a baby in a few months. In high school, I knew of a girl who had a unicorn tattooed on her stomach. When she was pregnant with her first child, the unicorn started to look like a giraffe. Then, when her stomach went back down after birth, the unicorn's neck no longer attaches to the unicorn's body....it's not a pretty site.

Ray said...

Wow, this has to be the best post yet. I truly loved it. So many things I learned about you in this post like you getting a bellybutton ring, star tattoo, and having 6 holes pierced on your ears.

Who would've thought the rebel you were back then, and the lady you've become today. It's scary & a bit sad how much we change, and reading this made me very sad & still sad as I write this.

Sad, because I haven't changed at all. Sad because I have a LOT to learn & I wish I could grow up already and not feel so painfully young (I'm 20 but I feel SO much younger than that). I hate the feeling, wishing I could shake it off but----I can't.

Anyway, if you never wrote this post I would have never known you had a bellybutton ring, that so rocks. There's so many things we'll never know about you but I'm glad your brave enough to let the world in and know you.

Take care, Kelly.

P.S. I think that star tattoo deserves a picture don't you?! And throwing away your bellybutton ring, NO! Give it to the baby if it's a girl on her 18th birthday! Hehe, j/k I know that just because you have one, I know you wouldn't want your child to have one as well. And last but not least: "I'M LOVING THAT BABY BUMP! Especially you making a heart shape around it, that's too cute."

Take care, Kelly. You're going to make one helluavue great mother! <3