Saturday, April 16, 2016

IT'S JUST A HEMANGIOMA, GET OVER IT!

I have been debating for almost eight months on weather or not to address the very white elephant in the room, my son's hemangiomas. After months of this internal struggle, I've decided to actually write about it for one reason, to educate people about them. 

So let's begin with what is a hemangioma? A hemangioma, by Mayo Clinic's definition is a birthmark that most commonly appears as a rubbery, bright red nodule of extra blood vessels in the skin*. They are known to occur very early in pregnancy, and they are basically a cluster of extra blood vessels, that's what gives them that very bright red appearance. They do not hurt, but in some cases, can interfere with breathing, vision or feeding, depending on where they are located. Most of them fade with time (most of them gone by the time a child reaches 5 years old), although in some cases there is minimal discoloration at the site.

My son's hemangiomas are located on his bottom lip and his neck. They weren't visible at birth, but started to become visible when he was about 7 days old. We took him to a Pediatric Dermatologist who prescribed medication to treat them. Most hemangiomas do not require medication, but in my son's case, it did for several reasons. The first one being that his biggest hemangioma, the one on his lip, was big enough to interfere with breastfeeding/bottle feeding. If it would have burst, it would have been incredibly difficult to heal and feeding him would have been very hard. The second reason was that by having two hemangiomas so close together and aligned, there was a chance that he could have a third hemangioma on the inside of his throat. That third possible hemangioma could have grown and potentially block his airways. Thanks to many prayers from our family, that was not the case.

Now that I've addressed what a hemangioma is, I want to address the thing we, as parents of a child with an hemangioma, have to deal with on a daily basis. I remember when we were at the dermatologist office, he warned us about something. He said, and I quote, "when you have a child with a visible hemangioma, everyone and their brother will have something to say about it. Everyone knows everything there is to know about it, and they will be very vocal about it, so learn to mute them". At the moment I did not quite grasp what he was saying. Now that my son is 8 months old, I so get it. 

I know that most people come from a place of love and good intentions when they make a comment about it. Most of the time we hear "his birthmark is so cute", "you can barely see it" or "I wouldn't worry about it". Some people, with a smaller than usual filter in their tongue, have said something along the lines of "what is wrong with your son's lip". Very few IDIOTS, have said "you know, that mark is caused by you giving him a pacifier" or "was it your fault?". My husband and I have learned with time to tune them out. 

To be quite honest, most of the time, I don't even notice my son's mark. I am with him 24/7 so I am so used to it by now, I just don't see it. But what gets me every time someone makes a nice, not so nice or plain uneducated remark, is that my heart breaks a little for my little man. Not because I think he has a disability, which he does not, or because it looks ugly, but because it makes me realize, that it is still there and it is the first thing people see when they see my son. They notice that first, instead of what a happy little boy he is, how beautiful his almond blue eyes are, or his incredible huge smile. I know that in three years time, we will not be able to see where his hemangiomas where. They will be a faint memory in us but not in him. 

We could edit his pictures if we wanted. Erase any evidence that he has a mark on his face. After all, he will not remember it. We could spare us a world of questions and stupid comments from people that don't know any better. But we do not want to do this. I do not want to teach my son that he needs to change his appearance in order to fit in. I hope that when he grows up and sees his baby pictures, he realizes that we loved him no matter what and accepted his mark. I think it is the most beautiful little lip in this whole world. I don't care that he is different, as a matter of fact, I have embraced it. One day, when he is a grown man, hopefully he will know that beauty comes in every shape and form, and that you should judge people for who they are and their character and not by how they look. 

Until my son's hemangioma fades, I will try to educate those who are truly curious about his mark, and to all the idiots that have a not so nice comment, I will just ignore them.

My son's lip hemangioma when he was 4 months old.

*Mayo Clinic hemangioma definition: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hemangioma/basics/definition/CON-20028587




 

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