Posted by Fitz

At Sweet Pea’s 2-week well visit, her pediatrician noticed a tiny red pinprick over her right eyebrow.  “It’s probably nothing,” she said.  “Likely just an offshoot of the stork bite on her eye.  But we’ll keep an eye on it just in case.”

From that moment on, I kept my eye on it, all right.  It was impossible not to.  That miniscule little dot blossomed, angrily, into a small, violent red, veiny mountain of blood vessels clustered under Sweetie’s skin.  It is a hemangioma, and as another pediatrician so aptly noted, “unfortunately placed”.  They are different on every child, and you don’t really know how it will grow.

Everyone we spoke to and all of the research we did told us the same thing: unless the hemangioma is very, very close to the eye or infiltrating into other organs, there is no treatment.  They are birthmarks quite common in fair skinned babies, and they go away on their own…sometime between 2-7 years depending on the case.  I’ve seen them before in other kids, have watched them go away over time, and never in a million years thought they diminished a child’s beauty. 

But…as you all know, it’s different when the child is your own.  It’s different knowing it will go away, but seeing the fierce and volcanic-looking growth on your gorgeous child’s face – Sweetie’s was getting more prominent and protruding by the hour, it seemed.  It’s different when an average of 4.2 people ask you “What happened to the baby?” every single time you’re out and about with her.  It’s different wondering if it really will go away by age 2 or 3 or 7, or if your little girl will be the subject of cruel childhood taunts. 

Early on, we got to the point where we were resigned that there was nothing we could do, and stopped even seeing it when we looked at our happy, super content Sweetie.  She’s all blue eyes and gummy smiles to me, and I had made peace with the fact that we’d have to answer the same annoying question over and over to annoying strangers.  One day, though, something magical happened.

My pediatrician took another look at the hemangioma during Sweetie’s 2.5 month well visit, and recommended that we make an appointment with a specialist at Yale.  “He’s the god of hemangiomas,” she said.  “He might not be able to do anything, but at least you know you’ll have exhausted your options.”  It took awhile to get an appointment, understandably, but we found ourselves in his office late last week when he said the words that I didn’t dare to dream: “We can fix this.”

While the “no treatment is best” is really the rule for hemangiomas, our Sweet Pea’s was still in a major growth mode and beginning to stretch the skin – he was worried that, left untreated, she would need cosmetic surgery to fix it.  So he recommended a course of blood pressure medication that required a 24-hour sojurn at Yale New Haven Hospital and about 7-9 months of treatment.  We packed our bags, headed to the pediatric ward that evening, and spent the next day waiting to see how Sweetie tolerated the meds.  She charmed every last doctor, nurse, and orderly in the hospital, laughing through her exams and cooing when being observed.  The meds didn’t phase her, and lo and behold…we noticed a difference in the hemangioma after just one dose of the good stuff.  Now it’s three days later, and I’d say it is reduced by at least 30, if not 40 percent.  It’s going to go away completely…and much faster than we thought.

Now, I know that we were the luckiest people in that pediatrics ward – no one was sick, in danger, or threatened in any way.  I know that Sweets would be fine if we hadn’t found this treatment at all, and that the hemangioma would have gone away on it’s own.  But I didn’t know that this treatment existed (it has only been around for 2-3 years, and we are the 11th patient that the specialist has used it on).  So I share this with you all in case you know someone who is experiencing something similar, who might benefit from the same treatment that is helping my little girl. 

I would love my Sweets no matter what she looked like, and in fact have been madly in love with her since the second I knew she was on her way.  I would do anything for her, and will always strive to minimize anything that might cause her distress.  I’m thankful for the specialist and for a pediatrician who knows when to refer you to someone else – and am grateful for all of their help.