On Getting a Permanent #FacesofFertility Tattoo

December 18, 2018
Katherine Flemming

One of the most incredible things to come out of the #FacesofFertility campaign came to my attention a few weeks ago; our customer empowerment team forwarded me a message from a woman who stumbled across the campaign and decided that she loved the tattoos we created with Inkbox so much, she wanted to make it permanent. 

I caught up with Moko Gawanas, who is based in Namibia, about her fertility history—and her incredibly positive attitude. Seriously, she is so inspiring.

Tell me a little bit about your fertility history:

Our first son was born in 2003, a few weeks premature as a result of my preeclampsia. I was young, but very excited about becoming a mom. It was traumatic at first, but he fought and we made it. He’s 15 years old now! For a while we discussed having more children but our circumstances didn't permit, so we waited. In the meantime I dealt with some personal challenges and transformed my life in 2008. I became sober, took care of myself physically and emotionally; I was in the best place ever. In 2009, I joked that I was working out and would have this amazing body and would end up pregnant at the end of that— and that is exactly what happened.

You got pregnant!

In July 2010 (three months before our wedding), we found out were expecting. We didn't plan it! This pregnancy was more challenging than my first - morning sickness, nausea, etc. I tried really hard to do everything “right” with this pregnancy. We got married and I was glowing at the wedding with my little bump and we announced it at the wedding. I went for my check ups made sure everything was going well. Ate all the right things, did all the right things. In January, when I was 27 weeks pregnant, I went for my ultrasound—I remember waiting my turn and looking forward to seeing my baby. When I got into the room, the radiologist came in, put the monitor on my belly. She said, “unfortunately, I cannot find a heartbeat and your baby is gone.”

I’m so sorry that happened to you. What did she do next?

She apologized and left the room. I remember lying there for while trying to process what just happened and I burst into tears. I got up, got dressed went to sit in my car and cried uncontrollably. My first thought was I did something wrong. I played this record for a while. Then I started telling myself that the universe took him away because I wasn't excited enough about my baby. I sat in the car for what felt like hours. I called my best friend, my hubby and my midwife.

I apologized to my son for not loving him enough and wanting him enough and let him know that I loved him deeply. At some point I got angry because I was in the best shape of my life and I felt my body had let me down. I had no crutch to deal with this pain as I was sober. I spent 24 hours with my dead baby inside me and the next day had to have a C-section. I spoke to him the whole night, asked him for forgiveness and tried to imagine what he looked like and the life we would have.

How did you process the emotional pain?

During the evening, I handed it over to the universe; I asked her to take away my pain and to take care of him. I let him go that night.  The day after my C-section, they brought him to me. I held him in my arms, apologized to him, told him I loved him so much, kissed him and let him go. It was so hard but I didn't resist my pain; I embraced it. I had good days were I imagined what life would have been and would have bad days were I blamed myself for killing my son. But I slowly started to forgive myself and with my support system I was able to work through. Losing a child is the worst thing ever and I don't wish it on anyone else. I have my days where I think about my baby boy and wonder what he is doing but I'm no longer filled with pain.

That is some incredible growth right there. About 9 months later, we were pregnant again and this time I was obsessed with making sure everything was perfect. At 27 weeks, our third was born. He was premature but he was another fighter; I was nervous but I fought for him and gave him everything I had. He made it, and is now a bouncy energetic 6 year old!  

How did you hear about the Knix campaignIt popped up on my Instagram feed and decided to follow them. I love their story and what the brand stands for. And then one day, I saw this campaign and it hit home.

Do you have any other tattoos? I have tattoos of my children's birthdays on my neck and my youngest asked me about them. I told him that he has brother who came before him—but he died, and is with God.  He told me he wish he could meet him; I told him that one day he will.also have the African continent on my back, a random one on my lower back, a serenity prayer on left shoulder, the word gratitude and a quote that I translated I to my language  in my left arm. Quote is "I am not what has happened to me, I am who I choose to become.” I have a few more planned.

What inspired you about this tattoo (designed by artist Mia Ohki)?

I asked the universe to take my son and the pain. I let him and the pain go. The universe to me is female and the hand letting the butterfly fly away talks directly to that. That hand also symbolizes me letting my son go into the universe. I am not sure of placement, still need to think about that. Maybe somewhere near my belly.

We also caught up with artist Mia Ohki, who was overwhelmed with gratitude.

She said, "Moko, I am so humbled by the fact that you would like to have this design as a tattoo to celebrate your son's memory. Especially because the image was able to reach you and resonate with you in Namibia all the way from Canada. It shows how small the world is, and even more how much we needed this campaign to connect women with similar experiences."

Moko's response to Mia was equally heartfelt:

"Thanks so much for your amazing artistry. I love how you have truly captured my experience in this illustration—I am in Namibia so will get a tattoo artist to get this onto my body. I'm so excited to be able to celebrate my son's memory with your art."

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