* * * *I'd been holding onto the idea of keeping this toe ring for no good reason at all. I still remember the day I got it in Laguna Beach back in 2004. How the smell of the Windex prickled my nose as the short, dark haired man sprayed my toe to get it good and greased up before forcing the ring over the bulbous top, down to the joint where it lay shining prettily. I thought it was so cool to have this kind of toe ring, not the adjustable kind that you could get at Claire's and take on and off, but the more permanent kind that looked like it cost more than $4. But now it was just another symbol of my youth. A fun day at the beach 8 years ago that reminded me of the life of spontaneity I had once lived. I think I'd been trying to get through this entire pregnancy without taking off the toe ring, because I'd already had to get rid of one of these reminders of my youth much faster than I had anticipated. When the doctor casually mentioned during my 11 week ultrasound that I would have to remove my navel ring in order to see the baby properly, I had a small moment of panic arise within my chest. I had been mentally preparing for the fact that I would need to remove the ring at some point - the hard earned piece of jewelry (a story for another time) that had adorned my stomach for 13 years - but I hadn’t realized it would need to happen so soon. I had always pictured the event taking place with great fanfare - an official renouncement of my rebellious phase of life as I was now about to become a responsible mother! But the moment happened quickly and quietly, with no fuss, under the watchful glare of my French doctor who probably wondered what the heck a 30 year old pregnant woman was doing with a belly button ring anyway. After that ultrasound appointment, I thought about putting the ring back in, but it seemed silly. My belly button ring wearing days were over, but inside I still had the same stubborn and adventurous spirit that drove me to that piece of jewelry in the first place. I didn’t need metal in my stomach to remind me of that. It's funny how we let certain things shape and define us, yet when they are gone so quickly they cease to matter. The removal of my navel ring was a small price to pay to see our daughter's beautiful face. It was a foreshadowing of the little, daily sacrifices Michael and I will make, eagerly, for her benefit in the years to come.
* * * *"This is never going to work," I complained as Michael lined up the clippers, took one snip, and freed my toe. I felt immediate relief as the ring fell off and I could scratch the skin that had been hidden underneath. I rubbed the red indentation the ring left around my toe and breathed deeply. Oh, finally, it was off and I wouldn't have to worry about it anymore. But as I looked at the broken ring, I couldn't help but feel a little sad. No, not sad, but nostalgic for something that had once meant so much. The last little bit of rebellion that said to me, "hey, I'm different. I'm cool." I turned to Michael. "Well, that was it. Now all my cool stuff is gone. I'm officially a mom." But of course that's not true. I still have my tattoo.