Many women commemorate their 40th birthday with a vacation, a trip to the spa or a lavish piece of jewelry. But Tanya Phillips had a much different plan in mind. To celebrate her 40th, she embarked upon a full leg, four hour tattooing of a bright red birthmark to match her daughter’s.
Tanya admits it looks a bit startling and it’s something she could have never dreamed she would do. But the mother of four underwent the unusual and painful procedure for an incredibly heartfelt reason.
Tanya, along with her husband, Adam, from Grimsby, both chose to have the tattoos to duplicate the strawberry rose birthmark that covers half of their little girl’s body.
Housewife Tanya said: “Most people will think it’s very extreme but to us it was a natural thing to do to make sure our daughter will never feel different or alone in the world.”
Tanya and her husband had the tattoos done so their daughter would feel ‘special’
Toddler Honey-Rae (now 18 months old) was born with a huge blemish and as she has grown, it has as well.
Tanya said: “It is bright red and it covers almost half of the right side of her body. It extends from her toes to her lower back. And it hasn’t faded with time. In fact some days, it actually looks darker than others.’
The caring Mom will never forget the first time she saw Honey-Rae’s birthmark.
“She’d struggled to breathe when she was first born and was rushed to the special care unit. When I went to see her, she was lying in a little incubator and that’s when I saw it. It broke my heart.
“I just sobbed and sobbed knowing my baby was going to permanently marked for the rest of her life.
“Like any Mom I didn’t want her to be different. I wanted her to be exactly the same as every other healthy child. And as much as the birthmark isn’t dangerous I knew it could have a huge impact on the rest of her life.
“Although in our eyes she was perfect, I knew other people would cruelly point and stare at her.
Honey-Rae was born with a birthmark that covers half of her body
“For the first few months of her life, whenever we went out, I made sure her legs were covered up. I couldn’t cope with stranger’s curious glances or whispering comments.
“I didn’t want sympathy or pity or people feeling sorry for Honey-Rae.
“Adam and I decided right away that we wanted Honey-Rae to feel special, that her birthmark was something to feel proud of and not embarrassed by.
“From the moment she was born, we told Honey-Rae she was beautiful and constantly covered her in kisses.”
But last summer, when the youngster was less than a year old, Tanya was out shopping with her little girl, who was dressed in shorts and sandals.
Doting dad Adam Phillips with Honey-Rae
She said: “I was standing in a check out line, when I saw an old couple whispering and staring at Honey-Rae’s leg.
“I was distraught. It was first time I had taken her out without covering her up and it confirmed all my worries and fears. People are cruel without even realizing it.
“And I knew if adults could be that insensitive, then kids at school would also be unintentionally mean.”
It was then Tanya and Adam decided to go the extra mile to ensure their little girl didn’t feel different.
Tanya said her daughter Honey-Rae can’t stop giggling at the tattoos
Tanya said: “We had talked about having duplicate tattoos done for a little while, but that day my mind was made up.
“We knew we had to do something to ensure Honey-Rae grew up knowing she was very much loved.”
For Christmas last year, Tanya paid £80 for her husband to undergo the two and a half hour tattoo, stretching down his right leg from his thigh to his toe. “I went to watch as part of it was done. It did look red and angry but there was no doubt in either of our minds that it was perfect.”
And last week, Adam returned the favor by paying for Tanya to be tattooed for her upcoming 40th birthday.
She said: “It was incredibly painful, but it was worth every second of the pain.
“When the swelling went down, I showed Honey-Rae, and she gently touched it and smiled as she said “Match”, pointing to her own leg.
“If I’d have needed any reassurance that I’d made the right decision that was it.
“She now constantly touches mine and Adam’s tattoos then her own birthmark and giggles – I couldn’t be happier.
“Some people will says it odd and think what we’ve done is quite extreme, but in our eyes all we have done is ensure Honey-Rae never feels different. Mummy and Daddy now have the same permanent markings as she does.”
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