Getting my navel pierced – the true hollywood story

Hi. I’m Kim. I’m a normalish girl, almost boring, kind of a goody-two-shoes. The only body mods I had to date were 2 sets of holes in each earlobe. The first set I got when I was 13, and I was so terrified of the pain that I could barely see straight. The second holes were done when I was 19, on a whim, and they hurt more than the first set.

Two years ago I got it in my fool head that I wanted my belly button pierced. True to form I chickened out constantly. This year I made a stand and said I wanted it done by June so that it’d be okay by my California trip in July. Come May 31, I realized I couldn’t procrastinate anymore.

I’m writing this because when I looked around, I wished there was a navel-piercing story from someone who didn’t already look like a pincushion. Someone more on the timid side.

The place:

I don’t hang with a heavily tattooed or pierced crowd, so I had to search around to find a place. I wanted a place that was established, and had enough money/credit available to advertise. So since I, y’know, work in the advertising department, I asked around and was told about Body Art Tattoo in Stratford. Fair enough. I also wanted a place that was established and savvy enough to have a website, since I’m a webby gal.

The appointment:

I called and got Jeff on the phone. He’s the piercer. I asked how far in advance I’d have to make an appointment. I thought it’d at least be a day or two – maybe a week. My soul was nearly shattered when he said, “you can come in anytime tonight up to a quarter-til-10.” Well crud.

Jeff was great on the phone, gently explaining that the piercing is no worse than a needle at the doctor’s office, and that 14 and 15 year old girls get it without a problem. Then he said, “I talk with a lot of people on the phone…you sound like one of those people who aren’t going to show.”

I was! I was totally! I was going to go home, get changed, walk the dog and head out again. It was then that I realized that if I went home, I’d NEVER go back out and get the darn thing done. So I drove straight to the tattoo place.

The check-in:

It was easy to find, and at that time (6:00pm) it was empty. Which is good, since in my top, skirt, and librarian-ish bun, I would have stuck out like a sore belly button thumb. Two women were chatting in another room, and something was buzzing.

A mid-20’s guy came to the counter, and I explained my plight. Turns out he was Jeff, and he was surprised that I was there. (So was I.) The piercing cost depended on the jewelry I bought. A simple ring was $40. However, the rings tend not to lay very well, and can be uncomfortable. Fifty dollars would get me a plain bar. Hold up your index finger. Now relax it so it’s not completely straight. That’s the shape of the bar. Finally, for $60, I’d get a very pretty bar with a ‘gem’ on either end.

And because I don’t plan on fiddling with the thing for months and months, may as well go with the pretty, right? So I picked the bar with the gems.

I had to sign some papers stating that I was not drunk, diabetic, or in poor health. Jeff scanned in my driver’s license, printed the scan (both sides) and stapled it to the paperwork. After I paid, he took me back. “What’s that buzzing?” I asked.

“She’s getting a tattoo,” he replied, nodding at the chatting women in the other room.

“Sounds like she’s having a good time.”

“It’s not as painful as people make it out to be.”

I’m not convinced.

The process:

“It looks like a doctor’s office!” I exclaimed as we entered the piercing room. It smelled like antiseptic and had a table that looked like a gyno’s table, without the kinky stirrups. There was a sterilization device, sink, counter and a box of latex gloves.

“Would you rather it look like my bedroom or garage?” Jeff replied.

“S’pose not.”

Jeff went on to ‘splain the process as he unwrapped all the sterile doo-dads.

I stood up and raised my shirt (just a bit, pervs). He drew two purple dots where the holes were to go. Navel piercings aren’t like earlobe piercings, where the entry and exit point are right behind each other. One hole is above the fold, the other comes out from the upper wall of the inside of the belly button. It seems to ‘tunnel’ under the skin a bit more. He used an alcohol wipe to clean the area.

Then, I lay down on the table. He put a clamp on the skin at the top of my navel and pulled it out to hold it steady. This didn’t hurt. Felt exactly like it sounds. I lay back and covered my eyes. I didn’t want to see the needle.

“Breathe in, and when you exhale, I’ll do the piercing.”

No turning back now. I inhaled and exhaled. As I exhaled, I felt the needle go right through. It wasn’t excruciating like I had expected, but it was a bit more than the ‘needle at the doctors’ that I expected. It was a second of “Yeow!” Then, in went the jewelry. That was a second of “huh?”

Another alcohol wipe, then dunzo.

I admired it in the mirror, trembling from the excitement. Yes, I can see how people can get addicted to body mods. The rush from handling the pain was pretty heady.

The hole:

The only maintainence instructions I received are as follows: Wash it day and night with Dial Antibacterial soap. If it gets infected, wet from a pool or I go to the gym and it gets sweaty (ha!) spritz it with Bactine.

The whole process was 15 minutes from when I walked in to when I left. It would have been 10 if I didn’t nervously babble so much.

The aftermath:

The soreness of a navel piercing takes about 2 weeks to go away, said Jeff. I didn’t believe him because, hey, I’m usually a fast healer. It’s one week, and yes, it still hurts. It’s a different hurt now. The first few days was the “Ow! I have a puncture wound” hurt. Now, that’s fading, and the bar is sliding up and down more in the hole. The hurt now can be described as “Ow! There’s a metal shard stuck through me!”

If the top ‘bauble” is bugging me, I can slide the bar down so that the top is touching my skin and the bottom bauble sticks out a bit. And vice versa. I can wear most of my clothes, as the waistlines fall below the belly button. But it gets rubbed against and bumped a lot.

Overall, it’ll take 8-10 months to heal inside and out. I should be able to change the jewerly in 3-4 months, but I don’t think I’ll change it for about a year. I’m happy with the jewelry I have in now.

Although I won’t get anything else pierced on me…the only thing I regret about the piercing is that I chickened out for 2 years. The anticipation truly is worse than the reality.

Added on 11/16/06: Almost six months out, and it’s been a bumpy ride. The top (entry) hole was really sensitive for a while, and I weathered a few infections. Seatbelts tend to bug it, and as the weather cooled I realized the hard way that I either had to get low-rise pantyhose or do the garters/stockings thing. (I vastly prefer garters/stockings, btw) For the last month, the top hole’s been fine. The scarring that was around it has faded back to natural skin color after being red, then brown, then red, then brown, etc. I can’t wait until next summer when I can show it off – this summer it was too raw. Didn’t want to gross people out.

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