Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A hema...what?

If you haven't met Gunnar in person then you probably wouldn't know that he has a rather large birthmark on the back of his head.  Funny that they call it a birthmark because it wasn't there when he was born. I first noticed it about a week after he was born and I actually thought he was bleeding. But after a week or so it hadn't gone away, and it was clearly getting bigger. So I mentioned it at his one month check up and our pediatrician recognized it right away.

"It's a Hemangioma."

 "A hema...what?" I said (it actually took me a month to remember what she called it after this appointment)

"A hemangioma birthmark. Some people call it the strawberry birthmark because it will raise up off the skin and look like a strawberry." 

Well that's not exactly the best news I ever heard about my 4 week old baby who up until now seemed to have the perfect head. At this point the mark was small, miniscule even...thoughts of a large strawberry sized lump on my tiny baby's head were invading my mind...a movie of my son's future educational career was flashing through my brain. Scenes of kids taunting and teasing Gunnar for the massive red lump.  My pediatrician must have noticed the horror on my face because she then said:

"But there's no need to worry. It's actually not permanent. It will raise up off the skin and grow for the first year or so but then should begin to shrink and flatten and eventually disappear within a few years at most."


"He's actually quite lucky" she continued "his looks like it will be pretty small and it's in an ideal location. His hair should cover it up nicely. Some babies have them on their nose, mouth or eyes which can impair with other things." 

And it was then that a wave of thankfulness swept through me.  Imagining all the sweet little babies being burdened with an intrusive red, raised birthmarks on their little eyelids or noses...and I felt guilty for wishing he didn't have one at all...I was lucky it wasn't on his eye.

Since Gunnar's diagnosis, his birthmark has grown to about the size of a large pea. It is bright red and raised and does resemble a small strawberry. From straight on you'd never notice it...it's just on the back side of his head. But I do get comments about it: "What happened to your baby's head?" "How did your baby get that scar?" "Boy you're lucky that's on his head!" 
I've actually grown to love it, after all it's a part of my baby...and I actually think I'll miss it when it disappears.

If you're interested in knowing more information about hemangioma's check out this site: hemangioma

The rarely seen "hemangioma"

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