Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Peanut's Beauty Marks

Yesterday was a day that I had been dreading for over a month now. We had a dermatologist appointment for Peanut after a recommendation by her pediatrician. One of her birthmarks had sprouted hair over the summer and it was looking a little suspicious. I had noticed it, too, changing colors slightly and an odd looking dark spot in the middle of it.

Of course as a freaked out, crazy mother I start panicking internally (especially when anyone throws any "-ologist" and my precious baby in the same sentence), but I have played it pretty cool waiting for the appointment to arrive. Inside my mind wanders down a million different paths of irrational thoughts that are horrible suggestions while my rational self is saying, "Whoa, nelly! It is JUST a consult. It isn't that bad!"

After some mulling over whether I should take Jelly Bean with us or drive the additional one hour's drive out of my way to have her stay with twingrandma, I opted to be brave and take them both.

We arrived at the doctor's office and I loaded them up in the stroller with snacks, sippy cups and books on hand. They usually know the routine once we are in there - they have to sit in the stroller until we get into a room and then I will let them out to run around and wreak havoc. Once I let the wild animals out of their stroller, I am usually saying, "Peanut, get your hands out of that. Jelly Bean, leave that alone. Girls, stay away from the door. Don't eat that!" It is truly a fun time, really.

By the time the doctor entered, I was slightly out of breath, extremely hot and ready to leave, but oh, right, we haven't had the actual appointment yet. Fortunately, the kind doctor entered the room and immediately put me at ease by saying, "I have twins, too." (Yes! Another member of the stressed out posse!) She tore off a little piece of paper and gave it to Jelly Bean along with a pen to draw on while we looked at Peanut.

Peanut has 2 birthmarks that came about after she was already born. (I always thought they were present at the time of birth, but that is not always true. Plus, my girls were born six weeks early.) The most obvious birthmark is her "strawberry" or hemangioma (if you want to get all technical.) It is smack dab on the side of her cheek and it is actually shaped like a strawberry. (My new banner picture displays it quite well.) The second birth mark is the hairy nevus on the back of her arm and the reason why we were at the doctor's office.

The strawberry showed up the weekend that we brought them home from the hospital, so they were roughly about two weeks old. It grew with her face and got puffy and bright red, but over time it is now flat and fading with patches of white. The dermatologist explained this one will be gone completely by age 10. The rule is that by age three, 30% of it will disappear. By the age of 5, 50% of it will be gone and then by age 10, it should have faded completely. There will probably be a silvery white mark left in its place somewhat resembling a stretch mark.

The birth mark on the back of her arm showed up while at the hospital (within her first week) and of course was much tinier than it is now. It grows while she grows and up until recently has been quite innocent looking. I am sure many people have some sort of birth mark that just looks like darker pigment than the rest of their skin. Usually these are completely harmless. When Peanut's birth mark became dark, splotchy and growing hair, this set off alerts in my mind.

The doctor measured it and checked it out and was completely unimpressed by it. It wasn't large enough to be considered a higher risk of skin cancer and it was doing exactly what these type of birth marks do. Because the mark is deeply rooted in the skin, it is able to produce more pigment and dark, course hair. She explained that it will get bigger as she grows and the hair will be thicker, too, but there is no reason to do anything about it.

We left with our instructions: Take a picture of it every year on her birthday and keep them to show her pediatrician. Come back to the dermatologist only if the pediatrician feels it is needed in the future. Peanut can decide in the future if she wants it removed, but there is no guarantee that it won't leave a scar anyway.

So, there we have it. My worst fears have dissipated. I feel better that we have had it looked at and know what we should do to be responsible about keeping track of it, but we aren't going to pine over it anymore. If in the future Peanut pines over it, then we will discuss options.

I know that it could be a challenge in the future when she wants to go to the pool or wear that strapless prom dress, but I can so handle that. I figure the worst part of the birthmark is the hair -we can take care of that pretty easily. The actual existence of it will just make her different and since it is behind the arm, I don't think it will be too bad.

I am a little concerned about her strawberry because that one is right on her cheek. While she has no concept that it really is there and Jelly Bean doesn't think anything of it, it will take some little punk to make her feel bad about it. I know it will happen - so I need to be prepared for that.

It is strange though, I can't imagine Peanut without it. And that is how I am going to help her with it, should I ever need to help. It is so part of her. It is her strawberry. She came with a little stamp displaying how special she is. My little cabbage patch doll, if you will. Except our Maker left His seal of approval on her instead of that ole Xavier Roberts guy.

And over time it will fade. She may be happy to see it go. Or maybe she will accept it like I have and embrace its beauty for the time she has it. All I know, the day that I can no longer see the little strawberry, I will feel sadness because it can only mean one thing: my baby is growing up.


Hajar said...

One of my boys has a hemangioma on the bottom of the middle toe on his left foot. I showed it to the boys' pediatrician and she was surprised that he got one on his toe. She said they usually appear on other parts of the body, and that was the first one she had seen on a baby's toe. She said it will be gone by the time he is two years old, and it has already begun to fade.
Both of my boys also have "blue butts," aka mongolian birth marks on their buttocks. When I brought them home from the hospital I thought someone at the hospital had bruised them, but the pediatrician assured me that that is not what happened. She said the marks will fade over time, but chances are they will always be visible. At least they are on their butts where they will only be seen by a select few people!
Two of my grown-up siblings had strawberries when they were little and they no longer have them.

Helene said...

I just left you a comment on your post from today wondering how Peanut's appt went. I didn't realize she also has a hemangioma on her face. At this point, if it's flattening out and not growing anymore in width, then she's probably at the beginning of the involution stage. Garrett has 3 on his back which are now in the involution stage, just starting to flatten out. I too am curious what they'll look like once they're completely involuted. I wonder if he'll be self-conscious about them or if he won't have a care in the world about it, like Bella does with her hemangioma scar.

I'm glad to hear the dr wasn't overly concerned with the nevus on her arm. Hopefully nothing more will become of it.

I share your same concerns about how cruel others can be and the comments and stares our children may receive as they get older. But from the sounds of it, both our girls have a wonderful sense of confidence and a healthy self-image so they're already off to a great start!