I’ve never written about Jaspy’s birthmark on my blog before. not for any particular reason; it’s not an awkward topic; I don’t feel embarrassed or worried; I’m not sad or anxious; I just don’t think about it.
It’s a part of him; a rather cute and beautiful one. Someone actually said in the supermarket today ‘and it’s even strawberry shaped – beautiful’. That’s all she said. no ‘hello, is that a birthmark?’. I was quite shocked by her forthcomingness but in a good way. I love that others think it’s cute too and don’t just stare or ask awkwardly what it is.
Jaspy wasn’t born with his birthmark. It appeared when he was around 8 weeks old, after a not so nice bout of baby acne. It began as some red blood vessels under the skin which over time slowly joined together and became darker and thicker.
When I think of it now, it’s quite strange that I was never concerned. To have a birthmark type mark appear, 8 weeks after birth is not your typical; and for it to get larger and more prominent should have probably caused me to be a bit more worried; but I wasn’t.
At first I thought he’d scratched himself while he had acne and burst some blood vessels. I never took him to the doctors about it in the beginning; but when we had HV or other doctors appointments they would ask me what it was. Admittedly this did make me question it and do a bit of research online; I mean for a doctor to ask me the cause of it didn’t fill me with much confidence in them!
The mark slowly grew thicker and looked like a sideways capital R or ‘JJ’. I’d heard about ‘strawberry birthmarks’ but when I searched for them I realised that Jaspy’s wasn’t your typical of that type. All of the pictures in Google images are of really raised marks. They usually looks quite painful and a lot deeper in colour.
Most people said that their childs grew until they were about 1 and then slowly faded to either nothing or a very faint mark after a couple of years. Almost everyone said that the mark had gone by school age except for a few who said that their now grown up child still had quite a promintent mark.
As Jaspy’s was getting thicker I started to become concerned that it would spread to his eye or nose and cause him difficulties with his sight or breathing. Another concern of mine was that when he cried the birthmark got hot from the blood pressure and I worried that this could cause them to burst or bleed more if he scratched himself.
I decided to take him to the doctor, who basically confirmed what my research had found; It’s called a Hemangioma which is a build up of abnormal blood vessels. The doctor told me to wait until he’s older but considering they’d also asked me what the mark was a few weeks prior, we decided to take him to a paediatric dermatologist just to get a specialists opinion.
He was absolutely fantastic and assured me that although the mark may get thicker it would not spread out towards his eye or nose. He said that there would be no medical complications and considering the size and rate of growth, it probably would clear by itself relatively quickly.
He also told us of a treatment that is quite new. It’s not usual to treat the marks unless they’re quite severe but as we’d spent the time and money to go private we thought we’d hear him out and give it a go. As much as I love his birthmark and will certainly miss it once it’s gone, it would be nice for it to clear in a matter of months more so that a matter of years. I’m not stupid and I know how cruel children can be. I plan intently on raising a strong, confident child but I honestly don’t know if I could handle seeing another child make him cry. Yes I know it will happen eventually but if I can put it off for as long as possible why not right?
So the doctor has given us topical Timoptol; drops used for treating glaucoma. I need to apply it once daily to the mark only and rub it in. It dries pretty quickly so Jaspy can’t touch it and get it in his eye; although if he did I’m sure it would be okay being that they’re made for eyes.
Timoptol is a beta blocker that works by blocking the beta adrenergic receptors. This basically means that it tightens the blood vessels, reducing the blood flow going through them. This in turn reduces the colour, makes them softer and decreases their size.
The treatment should work after 6 months to 1 year but we’ll go back for a review monthly or so to check that it’s working. I already think that it’s fading but then it could just have stopped growing while the rest of him is getting bigger, making it look smaller. Some people say that they think it’s going away but then the odd person will say ‘ooh it looks darker today’ and my thoughts are thrown.
I think the most important thing is that me and Pete don’t care either way. Jasper is perfect; a gorgeous, healthy and happy little boy. I will always think that he’s beautiful and I would never do this treatment for my own benefit. I simply want to reduce the risks of him bleeding more if he scratches his face; and also speed up the process of it fading before he starts pre school.
I’ll keep you guys updated on his progress with gorgeous photo heavy posts of course!
I’d love to hear your experiences with Hemangiomas too!
Thanks for reading,