Look what Dad’s Done now!

Ruth wants the world to look be­yond her man’s body art...

Pick Me Up! - - CONTENTS - Ruth Bick­nell, 28, Belfast

Or­der­ing my­self a drink at the bar, I felt a pres­ence be­side me. ‘Al­right there,’ the stranger grinned.

‘Hello,’ I smiled back.

We got chat­ting.

Chris, then 29, told me he worked nearby as a chef.

Im­me­di­ately drawn to his bub­bly per­son­al­ity, when he asked for my num­ber I said yes.

As a full-time mum to my son Jamie, then 4, it was hard to find time for dates.

But af­ter be­ing sin­gle for three years, I was ready for some ro­mance.

First date

The fol­low­ing day, a text came through to my phone.

When are you go­ing to let me take you out?

We car­ried on mes­sag­ing for a cou­ple of weeks, and even­tu­ally agreed to meet up.

Sit­ting op­po­site Chris in a lo­cal restau­rant, the sparks were fly­ing.

‘I see you’ve got a cou­ple of tat­toos,’ Chris said ca­su­ally. ‘Yeah,’ I replied.

I had a cou­ple on my hands and arm.

‘I love tat­toos,’ Chris told me, show­ing me a few on his legs. ‘I want to be cov­ered even­tu­ally.’

I’d never dated any­one with loads of tat­toos be­fore, and when Chris showed me his inked chest, I was in­trigued.

Within weeks, we were a cou­ple.

I in­tro­duced Chris to Jamie a month later, and my heart melted when I watched them play to­gether.

‘You’re a nat­u­ral,’ I told him af­ter we took Jamie for a day out.

‘I’d like kids of my own some day,’ he said.

He didn’t have to wait long. In Au­gust 2015, just eight weeks af­ter we met, I dis­cov­ered I was preg­nant.

It was un­ex­pected, but some­thing told me it was meant to be.

‘I can’t wait to be a dad,’ Chris beamed.

As my bump grew, Chris started get­ting more tat­toos.

He vis­ited the tat­too par­lour at least twice a week.

‘What have you gone for to­day?’ I’d ask as he came home from an­other ses­sion. ‘Let’s see!’ Jamie shouted. Chris’ new tat­toos were the high­light of his week!

‘I’m go­ing to get some ink on my face next,’ Chris told me one night.

‘Are you sure?’ I asked.

I loved Chris’ tat­toos, but I thought face tats were a step too far.

Our baby was due in a mat­ter of weeks, what would the mid­wives think?

I didn’t have long to mull it over...

The fol­low­ing week, Chris came home with a devil tat­tooed on the side of his head.

‘Wow!’ Jamie gasped. Weeks later, Chris walked in with Julius Cae­sar’s motto Veni, vidi, vici tat­tooed over his left eye­brow.

‘It means I came, I saw, I con­quered,’ he said proudly.

Be­fore long, Chris added a spi­der’s web and an egg timer.

He looked like a dif­fer­ent per­son. But, be­hind the ink, he was still the man I adored.

In April last year, Jes­si­caRose was born.

I could see Chris’ tat­toos were at­tract­ing some at­ten­tion on the hospi­tal ward, but we were con­sumed with love for our baby girl.

Each week, Chris added to his body art.

With ev­ery new tat­too, the more peo­ple stared.

‘I like your tat­toos!’ some strangers com­mented.

Oth­ers would nudge each other and gawp, but Chris wasn’t both­ered.

Skele­ton teeth

When Jes­sica-rose turned 1, Chris de­cided to take his body art up a notch.

‘I’m go­ing to get skele­ton teeth tat­tooed on my mouth,’ he an­nounced.

By then, I was used to Chris’ out­landish cre­ations, but when he came home from the tat­too par­lour, my jaw dropped. ‘It’s so dark!’ I gasped. Chris scooped Jes­sica-rose up into his arms, and I thought she might burst into tears.

But she put her arms around him im­me­di­ately, recog­nised her daddy straight­away.

Soon af­ter, we went to the su­per­mar­ket for our weekly shop.

As we wan­dered around with our trol­ley, we no­ticed a lit­tle boy star­ing at Chris. Sud­denly, he started sob­bing. ‘You’ve fright­ened him!’ I told Chris.

‘I didn’t mean to,’ he said, un­fazed.

I couldn’t bear the thought of peo­ple think­ing Chris was scary. He’s one of the kind­est

With ev­ery new tat­too, the more peo­ple stared

peo­ple I’ve ever met! ‘I’ve de­cided I want to be the most tat­tooed man in North­ern Ire­land,’ Chris said.

‘You’re well on your way!’ I laughed.

Self-ex­pres­sion

Be­fore long, the ma­jor­ity of Chris’ body was cov­ered.

He had a tiger’s face inked onto the back of his head, flames added to his face, a gi­ant pair of lips etched onto his midriff, a portrait of Ge­orge Best on his shin, skulls, roses, and Jes­sica-rose’s name and date of birth.

When­ever he wanted more tats, we’d sit down and dis­cuss ideas. Chris uses all his favourite things as in­spi­ra­tion. His tat­toos are an ex­pres­sion of who he is.

But not ev­ery­one is keen on his ink. One friend mes­saged af­ter see­ing pic­tures on Face­book.

When is he go­ing to stop? she asked.

He used to be re­ally good-look­ing! I just laughed.

I love Chris, whether he has tat­toos or not!

I worry some peo­ple think he’s a bad per­son. But he’s an amaz­ing boyfriend and a lov­ing fa­ther.

Chris is plan­ning to add more ink to his face, and wants to get the in­side of his ears done soon.

You might think his look is a bit ex­treme – but, as long as he’s happy, he’ll al­ways have my sup­port.

Lit­tle Jamie thinks it’s ex­cit­ing!

A lov­ing daddy to Jes­sica-rose

The two of us when we first met

I think he’s Ink-red­i­ble

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