Here’s a picture that Berkeley drew of herself about a month ago:
She showed me the picture and said, “Look, Mom! I’m getting really good at drawing my lips!”
Oh, those sweet little lips. Many of you might have seen pictures on this blog and wondered about Berkeley’s lip. I wouldn’t be surprised—most people do, and aren’t shy about asking either her or me about it.
When Berkeley was born, her lips looked like average newborn baby lips. Then, within a couple weeks, we started noticing a tiny red mark on one of the peaks of her top lip. See?
I thought it was a blister, probably from nursing, and didn’t think much of it. But it didn’t go away. At her one month check-up, I talked to the pediatrician about it and she said, “Well, let me see something,” and proceeded to flip her lip open to check the inside of her lip, something I had never done. Sure enough, on the inside of her lip, the skin was a bluish-purple color and seemed a little swollen. The doctor told us it was called a hemangioma and recommended that we go see a pediatric plastic surgeon because she was worried that as it continued to grow (which they do) it might interfere with her nursing. I have scrawny babies as it is, and horrible nursers to boot, so the last thing I needed was something making that problem even worse. So we went. We were in good hands, given that we were in Boston where a world-renowned pediatric plastic surgeon happened to practice. On our first visit, he gave her a steroid injection (something very hard to watch on a 5 week old baby) that was supposed to slow down the growth. Typically, they grow for a while, and then eventually shrink down completely, but this process can take many years. When we left Boston for Charlotte about a year later, we visited Dr. Mulliken one more time and he said that it looked as good as he would have hoped and that he wanted us to email him a picture of it in a couple years so he could check the progress. He made the joke that every girl wants to have Angelina Jolie lips anyway. Hmmmmm. . .
Fast forward to last year. At 4 1/2, Berkeley had endured many stares, questions, lots of really dry chunks of skin flaking off her lip cuz she subconsciously pulls it in and sucks on it, and although she’s a tough cookie, there’s been a little self-doubt. After a week of answering one too many curious strangers, I decided to Google the diagnosis again (something I did when we first found out about it but hadn’t explored since) and found an article from a medical journal that talked specifically about hemangiomas on the lip and it said that they generally do NOT ever go away completely. I emailed back and forth with Dr. Mulliken in Boston, and after some discussion, Patrick and I made the decision to have Berkeley’s lip operated on. Our Boston doctor is very popular, so he wasn’t able to fit her in for over a year. He recommended a very good pediatric plastic surgeon named Dr. Oh who is just about 400 miles away from us. We met with him on December 31st for a surgery consult and feel really good about putting our daughter in his care. She will have to be put under, but it is an outpatient procedure and should take less than an hour.
Berkeley is VERY excited. She really wants to have the surgery, which is going to be over Spring Break. She loved Dr. Oh and kept saying how nice she thought he was. When we were sitting in Dr. Oh’s waiting room, Berkeley said, “Kendall told me that maybe Dr. ‘O’ is really Dr. Oz!” I hope she wasn’t too disappointed that her doctor wasn’t a national TV celebrity! (And in case you’re wondering why we’re not having the procedure done in Charlotte, we did meet with someone here in town who our local pediatrician suggested and I couldn’t have been more disgusted with him.)
It’s hard for me to imagine what Berkeley will look like after the surgery since her adorable face is all I’ve ever known. I’m sure we’ll all eventually get used to it and then only have the pictures to remember what it was like before!
I know we’re making the right decision to have this procedure done, but I sure don’t think it’s possible for her to get any cuter!