tattoos & mei tais

well, i got my tattoo.


it’s not finished yet. we still need to fill in the roses. but this all took three or four hours, & the tattoo guy pretty much freehanded the detail on charlotte’s face, & my arm was starting to get pretty sore & swollen, so we called it a day. we’re going to let it heal for a few weeks & then i’m going back next month to finish it.

the tattoo dude had easels set up all over the tattoo room with photos of charlotte taped to them, so he could look up & see her coloring & her markings. some of them were daubed with ink so he could get the mix right. add to this the tattoo chair wrapped in plastic wrap & it was all a little bit “dexter”-y. he was also struggling with figuring out how to cover the armband tattoo i already had. he wrote charlotte’s name in ornate script & kept placing it over the armband, trying to figure out how on earth to get letters to cover stupid hats. finally i said, “maybe we could do flowers? because the hats are red, we could do red flowers? i don’t know.” i must confess, i am ridiculously non-visual. i can’t draw, i can’t envision color gradations or shading or anything. anything awesome about this tattoo was all the tattoo guy. when i suggested flowers, he opened his cabinet & pulled out a book called “the big book of roses”. he picked one he liked & used it to draw a little cluster, & then he turned the hat detail that wasn’t covered with a flower into a leaf. pretty brilliant. i love the way it’s turning out. one of my friends said, “that’s the fanciest cat memorial tattoo i have ever seen…for the fanciest cat.”

the next day, i received the babyhawk mei tai i had custom-made. i decided to try a mai tai carrier after a mama friend suggested that i look into finding a carrier that will allow me to back carry ramona before she has super-good head control. you’re not supposed to back carry with a moby at all (too stretchy) & it’s not recommended to back carry with an ergo until baby can sit unsupported. ramona isn’t even rolling over yet. we are still several months away from unsupported sitting. but this mama friend said that a woven wrap-style carrier without stretch could enable me to carry ramona high on my back before she develops total head control.

i asked around & other mamas recommended the mei tai. i ordered a freehand mei tai at first because it had good reviews & was like half the cost of a babyhawk (which seemed to be widely regarded as THE ULTIMATE in mei tai carriers). but i didn’t care for it. the straps weren’t long enough for me to get a tight, secure fit, & the body of the carrier wasn’t quite big enough for me to feel like ramona was being held securely. in fact, i struggled so much with getting a tight fit that ramona actually fell out the bottom of the carrier! only on to the bed, & she didn’t even wake up from her nap, but still! imagine if that had happened while i was walking down the street!

i think a freehand carrier could work for someone else, but it didn’t really fit my body. so i returned it & decided to just bite the bullet & buy a babyhawk. i customized it with extra-long straps, skull-print fabric on one side, & red minky on the other. i was really pleased when it arrived because it looked even cooler than i had expected. jared said it looked like an “L.A. tattoo studio,” but you know what? i’m not a quaker & i don’t give a fuck about “plain dress”. i’ll look like an L.A. tattoo studio if i want to.

first i tried ramona in a newborn carry & it went really well. she was nice & secure & fell asleep immediately. but it wasn’t really any different than having her in the moby or the ergo. so i decided to try her on my back. it took quite a bit of trial & error because i was simply incapable of swinging her over my shoulder & on to my back like the ladies in the youtube videos do. finally i laid her in the carrier & kind of laid back on top of her (but not actually on top of her), grabbed the straps, & lifted her on to my back. once i tried it that way a few times, it was super-easy & she didn’t mind it at all. there are like a billion ways to tie the straps, but i think the backpack tie is the most comfy for me, & the extra-long straps enabled me to loop them under ramona’s butt for extra support for her.


i don’t think i am ready to take her out into the world this way, because getting her off of my back isn’t as fast & easy as taking her off my front. but it’s great for around the house. i was able to put away laundry, wash dishes, work on my computer, & she just chilled back there, babbling to herself. i think this is my new favorite carrier. it’s faster to put on than the moby, there’s a greater diversity of ways to carry ramona than either of the other two carriers, & it’s more comfortable than the ergo (which is not to say the ergo is terribly uncomfortable).

ramona has also started sleeping through the night! she is giving us seven to twelve hours at a stretch! because of this, jared has signed on to take over all bedtimes, middle of the night wake-ups (which only happen two or three times a week), & the whole getting up in the morning thing, enabling me to have some nice stretches of free time. i’m still on duty while he’s at school & making dinner, but it’s a big relief to know that i have time to get my shit together in the morning without having to immediately be on baby duty, & to have some time at night without having to get her to bed. i am still getting up once or twice a night to pump, & it’s awesome to be able to do that without also having to stress about the possibility of ramona needing a bottle as well. he’s also talking about taking over half her baths, which would be great, because i don’t really like to bathe her. she is still kind of freaked out by the whole thing & occasionally screams her way through her bath. she needs to be bathed though. it’d amazing how filthy a baby can get when she can’t even roll over yet.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

12 thoughts on “tattoos & mei tais

  1. Hoo-ha! The tat looks fab!! Nice one! Best cat portrait ever. I’m not usually a fan of roses – but yours look great – they give it a nice frame (plus, way to be a cover-up superstar!). ornate writing is also brilliant.

    the babyhawk looks great! We got a second hand beco butterfly & while the little one is still a bit small for the back carry, from what I hear, I’m stoked we didn’t go the ergo route – it seemed less, I dunno, structure-y? The beco has a little harness inside so i can take the baby off while she’s still in the carrier and transfer her to my back, or hand her off to my partner. More like a backpack, i guess. She likes it better than the moby because she has better access to her hands. She gets pissed if she’s in it too long though. She’s remarkably independent for an 11 week old….Haha. She is certainly related to us…

    1. i have heard really good things about the becos. i think if i had done more research before ramona was born, i might have gotten a beco instead of an ergo. maybe. i got the ergo secondhand though, so i don’t know. at this point, i have three high-quality carriers; i probably don’t need any more. especially because we do plan to get a cheapo umbrella stroller once she’s old enough to sit, & jared wants a jogging stroller, which will probably also do a little double-duty as an around-town stroller.

      thanks for the compliments on the tattoo! personally, i am indifferent to different kinds of flowers–they’re all nice enough, but i’m never bowled over by them. but i think, once they are colored in, they will really brighten up the tattoo & make it a little more celebratory & less, “i had a cat & then she died.” plus i always kind of idly think flower tattoos look nice on other people. i really just needed something to cover the damn hats.

  2. The tattoo looks great! I really need to think about starting mine.

    Congrats on the sleeping through the night! Such a huge milestone. I am a much happier person now that I’m routinely sleeping.

    I like back-carrying in our Moby, but I’m still not very good at putting Lilian on my back. :p I mostly just use it if we’re all going somewhere together, and then I have my husband help me put it on. I got her onto my back once with the help of our couch, but then I was all paranoid that I hadn’t done it correctly, because I can’t actually see back there. I should probably start practicing more.

    1. i am probably not putting ramona on my back “correctly”. i haven’t read anything that recommended the method i used. but it works for me, so whatever. the only stressful thing is getting her OFF of my back when she decides she’s all done being worn. but i get a little faster every time i try. still, it will be a relief when she can sit up on her own & i can wear her in a more traditional backpack style.

      ramona actually started waking up once a night, but jared offered to take all the night wakings from here on out, so…not my problem, i guess. she is sleeping much better though. she went down last night at around 10:30pm (she would have gone to bed earlier, but we were at an art show), woke up at 2:30am for a bottle, & then slept until 8am. next week will be a different story because he’ll be in toronto & i’ll be managing her by myself in detroit…but hopefully it will be all right.

      thanks for the compliments on the tattoo!

  3. Excellent tattoo! I’m always wary of portrait tattoos but this one worked out really great. I love the use of white ink as an accent.

    Also thanks for the review of the babyhawk, I’ve been craving one ever since I got pregnant and I think I can convince my mom to get it for me (she got my sister a stroller and wants to get me something) and it’s good to see more people who like it.

    1. the babyhawk is so awesome! the more i use it, the more i like it. the headrest is awesome for a floppy baby, & i got mine with extra-long straps to make sure i could tie it really tight. i’ve started wearing ramona off to the side–kind of a modified hip carry–& it’s so comfy for me. i can wear her like that for hours with no shoulder/back strain, which is truly miraculous, considering all my back issues. & it’s about the same price as your average stroller, so it would be a great gift choice for someone who wants to babywear instead.

      thanks for the compliments on the tattoo! i’m loving how it came out. i agree that the white accents were a great choice. (all the artist’s idea, not mine.)

  4. Beautiful work! I’m inspired. I have a collection of idiotic random tattoos but alas, no money or ideas to cover them up with.

    Someone from my mama group wears her 3-month old in the Ergo facing out on the front which you’re technically not supposed to do. She loves it but I tried it and though Natasha is happy, it’s uncomfortable for me and I don’t like how straight she is.
    The mei tai looks awesome!

    1. i haven’t yet tried ramona facing out. she has good head control so i think she might be able to handle it, but jared is worried that she’ll get hip dysplasia or something. i know there’s some recommendation for how long you’re supposed to wait, but i don’t remember what it is. i think they are never supposed to face out with a mei tai, but they can peek over your shoulder if they’re in a back carry, so that works if they want to see the world.

      thanks for the compliments on the tattoo! i still have two others i would like to cover if i had any ideas about what to cover them with. one is kind of big, with a lot of black, & the other is a weird shape, so i don’t know. but if i got rid of them, i would then be happy (more or less) with all of my tattoos! what a dream.

  5. Truly love the tattoo. Provided you would say that’s a good portrait of Charlotte, I think your artist is a very talented guy because it looks fantastic. Congrats! And congrats on Ramona sleeping through the night. I hear that’s a huge milestone!

    1. thanks on both fronts! i got the roses filled in yesterday & it looks seriously gorgeous. i’ll post an updated photo soon. & it is REALLY nice to have ramona sleeping through the night. jared had already signed off on getting up with her as needed, but it’s nice to not have to deal with it, for the most part. we got really lucky with this one!

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