Why I Refuse to Pierce My Baby’s Ears

We’ve all seen it: a beautiful baby girl, in an equally adorable outfit, with miniature diamond studs in her ears. It’s cute, it’s a baby, what’s not to love? Most people will barely stop to notice the earrings; they’ve become so commonplace today. But if we stop to notice them, we can only come to one conclusion: her parent(s) got her ears pierced.

Let me be clear: I hold absolutely nothing against parents who choose to pierce their children’s ears. I write this today only to express why I, as a parent and a body piercer, won’t be making that same decision.

As a body piercer and tattoo artist, I’ve stuck more needles in people than I could ever count. The youngest person I will pierce (with parental permission and the correct releases) is a 13 year old; and even then, I will only do certain piercings. I also won’t tattoo anyone under 13; and frankly, at that age, if it’s something stupid or inflammatory that I’m 99% sure they’ll regret, I still won’t do it regardless of parental consent. That’s within my rights as the artist; and as an artist I feel that it’s my responsibility to properly guide my clients towards work they’ll love forever (as much as I can anyway) and to steer them away from bad choices. Other than this level of discretion, I love body modification in all it’s various, beautiful forms.

Because of this people close to me have asked me multiples times, “When are you going to pierce your baby’s ears?!” And my answer is always the same, “I’m not.”

My reasoning is simple: it’s her body. Why should I put holes in it without her permission? Because it’s cute? Because “She’s so young she won’t be able to pull them out“? That may very well be true, but who am I to say that she’ll want her ears pierced by the time she’s 13? And if she doesn’t then she’ll be left with scars after years of having her ears pierced when she didn’t choose them. The scars will be tiny, superficial at best; but they’re only one minute part of the problem I have with piercing an infant’s ears. Besides the scarring there’s also the initial pain and fear this practice causes an already emotionally fragile infant in a new world; followed shortly by the risk of infection, keloid formation, lobe tearing, and the choking hazard of the earring itself. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics says a child’s ears shouldn’t be pierced until they can care for them themselves and they don’t recommend ear piercings with a gun (the most common way of doing it) at all because ear piercing guns can’t be sterilized. That’s more than enough for me.

Her being my child doesn’t make her mine to do with as I choose, not in that way. If she needed a surgery to save her life that required me to choose something for her body that would leave a scar, then I would make that choice in a heartbeat. But something cosmetic, that’s done for the sake of being cute whilst having some serious physical risks? That I will not do. And that’s my choice as her parent. Should she want to get her ears pierced later in life then I’ll do it for her, or bring her somewhere to have it done. But it will be her choice for her body.

We live in this day and age where everything is about the outside appearance. And really, what other reason is there to pierce your child’s ears besides it being cute? There isn’t one unless you’re doing it for cultural reasons such as they do in India or Spain. Many parents choose to do it for various reasons; and again, I have no qualms with them. But just like they chose to pierce their baby’s ears, I refuse to pierce my baby’s ears. At least until the day when she asks me to do it herself.

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

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Every Moment

I stand above this little girl, so peaceful and innocent, with skin that glows in a way that says nothing’s ever touched it. I watch her breathe in and out, hear the noises she makes in her sleep, and I think of a time when she was nothing but a dream. She was never supposed to exist, at least not without lots of medication, months of tracking schedules, years and years of waiting. Yet here she is, in the flesh, so full of love and happiness. She’s my little miracle, life’s greatest gift.

I’ll never forget the day that little plus sign turned blue, the disbelief in my veins, the look of shock on my face. I’ll never forget the first time I heard her heart beat, fast like a hummingbird, strong like a hoofbeat. I’ll never forget the night I first felt her kick, so subtle I almost missed it, but so monumental. I was so in tune with every little change. I embraced every moment, loved every single day. Even now, as I watch her dream in her sleep, I still miss when we were one, her growing in my belly.

But not a thing in this world, matches the love and peace I feel, when I watch my baby sleep like the world is standing still. I catalogue every second, snapshots in my head. I’ll memorize every moment, from her birth until my death. I don’t want to forget a thing, any step on this journey. Because the best thing I’ve been, is this little girl’s mommy.

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Possible Again

I sat back today and watched him play with his kids, just wild and free, so full of love and life. It was like one of those perfect pictures that bullshit romance novels paint: Dad playing with the older kids in the yard, dogs running around enjoying the freedom, mom a few paces away holding the baby, feeling blessed, laughing wholeheartedly at the people she loves playing without a care in the world. It was perfect. And foreign.

It reminded me of a time when I still believed in white picket fences and happy endings. When families weren’t the people you were trying to become the exact opposite of. He reminds me of when I still believed in true love. When “forever” meant forever and wasn’t just a false promise used as a bandaid over another bullet hole. He makes me feel special again, like maybe people really can love each other for all that they are. He makes me think that fall evenings spent sitting on the front porch watching the kids play in the yard are possible. Like nights spent cuddled up on the couch actually talking to each other, not just existing in the same room, are real.

I’ve always had a habit of ignoring the warning signs. I’m not one of those women who can’t see them, I can always see them. But I would convince myself that I could work around them; when in my heart of hearts, I always knew when and how a relationship would fail.

I don’t have that here.

Everything is still so new and yet, I can’t see anyone else after him. I feel like I’ve finally come home after years of living in some alternate reality nightmare and all the sudden the world is an endless sea of possibility and happiness again. Everything makes sense again. It’s like I finally woke up and everything I once dreamed was possible actually is. Ask anyone who knows me well enough and they’ll tell you they’ve heard me say “Forever is a fucking lie we tell each other to hide from the pain that we know will always be inevitable.” And I said it because I believed it. I don’t know what that says about me… or the people who’ve supposedly “loved me” before, but I know that I believed it. That forever only meant “until this ends in a three ring shit show circus”, or “until I get bored and you get sick of who I am”, or at best, “until we fall apart because people can’t survive all the ups and downs of life together”.

But I don’t believe that now…

I actually believe I could sit back and watch the kids play and grow and evolve for the rest of time with him. I can see fitting into the crook of his body for every night of the rest of our lives. And that’s insane, isn’t it? Shouldn’t it be? It doesn’t feel like it is, or should be. I have always trusted my gut above anything and anyone else and everything I say now is coming from my gut, not some lust drunk, fantasy induced place in my head. I don’t see anyone else after him. I don’t have any “I wonder how long this will last” thoughts. I never wanted to believe in someone this much, ever again. I was completely unwilling to give one more person what I saw as being “too much power over me” ever again. I loudly refused to ever start over or try again.

Then he happened…

And now loving families, and crisp fall evenings, and white picket fences, and even happy endings, are all possible again. And I tell myself that I should be terrified…

But, I’m not.

by Ashley King
© All Rights Reserved 2017

A Child’s Pain

This strange thing happens when you become a parent; at least for me it did. Every time I see someone hurt a child, hear a story about someone’s baby dying, or see something on the news about something that happened to a kid in some far corner of the country, I immediately think of my daughter. This thought then leads to a shudder or rage, fear or a sick feeling in my stomach, a visceral reaction to the thought of one of these things happening to my baby; or to any baby at all. 

I haven’t been a parent for long, but so far, the thing that bothers me the most is knowing that I won’t be able to save this amazing little girl from all the pain the world often throws at us. I can’t take every hit for her; and even if I could, I would only be robbing her of the opportunity to build her own strength. But the mother in me doesn’t care. It just wants to protect. I want her to have the strength and resiliency I have; but I would die to save her from the pain that I gained it through. My child will never endure some of the things I had to; but that doesn’t change the fact that she’ll have pains all of her own. And if it makes me sick and angry to see a little girl in a movie get hurt because her mother treats her poorly, then I can’t imagine how I’m going to feel the first time I see my little girl in pain. The thought of her hurting and me not being able to fix it keeps me up at night. 

However, I still refuse to shelter her from the real world too much. I will protect her like any mother should protect her young; but I won’t make her naive, and I won’t deny her the right to build her own strength. She’ll have to live and learn just like I did, whether I like it or not. But I have a feeling it will be much harder for me to watch her do that than it ever was to survive the things I’ve been through.

If only we lived in a world with no pain…

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

You Are Me, I Am You

I kiss the corners of your piercing blue eyes and my soul explodes as you reward me with your toothless smile. I will never take you for granted.  

I listen to your giggle as you play with your Gigi and I’m encompassed by warmth, enveloped with love, destroyed by happiness. How did I ever know love before you? 

I watch you sleep, closely examining the rise and fall of your chest, listening to your soft snore and dream induced murmurs. I would give a million of my lives to preserve yours. 

I see you see things for the first time. Your eyes light up and focus in, your brow furrows in that curious way, and you examine. You take everything in and I spend a significant amount of time wondering what you learn from it all. I will teach you everything I know, and then I will learn more so I can teach you more. 

I watch you play with your hands. I love those little fingers and palms so much. You twiddle your fingers around each other and examine every inch of their magnificent creation, almost as much as I do. I wonder what things they’ll create, what they’ll touch and feel, where they’ll explore. I’ll show you every beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. 

I see your head turn on a swivel when you hear my voice. I feel your heart slow when you’re upset and I wrap you up in my arms. I play with you, imitate you, watch you mimic me, and I have never loved anyone more. I see me in your eyes and I see you in mine. I hear my voice in yours when you yell just because you discovered you can. You are me, and I am you…

I will cherish you every moment. I will remember every second. I will embrace every day I get with you. You are not mine, but you are a piece of me. I do not own you, but I made you. You are my daughter, you are my life, and I will protect you and love you until the end of time. 

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

It’s A Shame

I always admired your ability to set your mind to something and actually attain it. I’ve never seen someone turn such a low salary into so much. Self control. When it came to money, budgeting, working a job you hated, you were a master. You have this unbelievable ability to say “no” to yourself, especially for an ex-junkie. And I truly admired that, mostly because I’ve never been very good at it. 

You’d get this tunnel vision for what you wanted. Me, then the apartment, the promotion, the Army. Next came the new job, the mortgage, the house. One thing after the next; you set your mind to these things and you got them all. But your superpower had a catch. Among your many other character defects, you were never able to focus on more than one thing at a time. Remember, “tunnel vision”. 

And really, it’s a shame. Because now you have your nice, new job. You’re on your way to being a soldier. You close on your beautiful home tomorrow. You have a pink room for both your daughters, one of them being ours… But in attaining all of these things, you forgot about us. And so you will move to your new house alone. You will learn just how deafening silence can be. You will experience loneliness in all of its unique agony. And really, it’s a shame. Because I would have given you forever. Had you only been kind and respectful. Had you paid us just a little bit more attention. Had you just heard me everytime you asked me what I wanted and my answer was “emotional support”. Had you only noticed that the woman sitting next to you was slowly disappearing, her spirit decaying living a life of cohabitation. Partners aren’t supposed to just coexist; they’re supposed to live life together. And in trying to build that life, you forgot about the people you were doing it for. 

My heart breaks for you. I never would’ve wished this on you. Ever. My heart breaks for me. I never wanted this. I wanted our family. I wanted our life. I wanted the man I fell in love with. But you lost him somewhere. And when you lost him, you lost me. My heart breaks for our daughter; because she deserves so much better than us; and she’s not even getting “us”. I will always give her everything I have to give. But I wanted us to do that, together. 

Really, it’s a shame. 

And forever is a lie. 

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Ask Me Anything Monday

This is a little fun exercise I used to do last year that fell into obscurity between working and being pregnant. Soooo, I’m giving it a shot again. If you’re interested, ask away 🙂 

Submit any questions, queries, or random wonderings you may have! 🙂 As always, it can be a personal question about me or my life or it can be completely random. And I promise to answer it as completely and honestly as I can! There are no rules or limitations. Let’s go! 
Much love,

Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017