Wednesday, January 13, 2010

and i would drive 400 miles

Here’s a picture that Berkeley drew of herself about a month ago:

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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?

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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!

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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!

14 comments:

Megs said...

I was just saying that I don't think I can pictuer her without the lip. It is just who she is and she is so cute. I am so happy for her though. This will be so great for her to have this done and I am so happy she is so excited.

Annie said...

you are right, she could not be any cuter. i have loved getting to know your girls' cute personalities and only look forward to the surgery because it means we get another visit from you!!!

Keepin' up with the Jones' said...

i love berkeley. and i'm so excited for her surgery beacuse i know how excited she is. she is so pretty.

molly kay said...

You know hudson had eye surgery when he was 3- he was about to start preschool and our doctor reccomended that if we were going to have the surgery, we should do it before he starts school. He was born with the same thing I was- on the same eye even. it's called tsosis and basically it's a drooping eyelid. I always knew he would have the surgery as I did.It helps them so much to not have have such an obvious thing to be insecure about when we all get insecure about everything- even things that are barely there. If you can give them a less stressful life- even if it means some sugery- I say you definitely should! hudson barely remembers his surgery now that he is 10. Good luck- where is the doctor? too bad it's not DC! It's great she wants it too.

Sarah said...

Berkeley certainly is adorable! That is a cute drawing she did of herself. I could tell it was her. I didn't realize her birthmark had grown over time.
I think you're doing the right thing, and that is wonderful that she is excited about it. It really is amazing how fast medical technology has advanced over the years! The last time I had my birthmark operated on (laser surgery) was over a decade ago, and basically it was determined that they couldn't do anything about removing it. Instead, it has gotten a lot more sensitive to cold. Oh, well! Mainly, I just wish I could get away with not wearing any makeup. The questions do get old!

jessi said...

Like some of the previous comments - I'm excited for Berkeley because SHE'S so excited. :) I think that will make all the difference in the surgery and in her recovery. Can't wait to see how happy she is post-surgery!

Erin said...

berekley is such a sweet girl. i think that it is cute that she is so excited for the surgery. i can only imagine how hard it will be for you (just watching your baby gets a shot is heartbreaking enough!) but i am sure everything will go smoothly. and berkeley will look as beautiful as she does now... just with a smaller lip :)

The Dahle Family said...

When Aaron saw these pictures, he said, "Berkeley really is just the sweetest little girl." He said similar tyhings after she spent a couple days at our house in October. She's not just as sweet as your average little girl, she's SUPER sweet; we sure love her! She's totally adorable. We are so glad you found a doctor that you feel good about! Hooray for Dr. Oh. Aaron wants to chat it up with you about what disgusted you about the Charlotte doctor. Good for Aaron's bedside manners, you know!

Dana said...

All of the above comments are great so I can only add that we will be keeping all of you in our prayers as her dream comes true!

Vaughn said...

No doubt about it -- Berkeley could not get any cuter! We love her and hope all goes well.

Marliese said...

We love Berkeley, too! This girl has many fans, and rightly so. The anesthesia is a scary thing, but so routine, that it's not really a big deal.

I'm glad you found a Dr. you trust. I have not felt completely secure with all the docs we've had over the years. That makes a big difference.

Phew that she's excited. Love her purple scarf. And she is getting to be a good artist!

Melinda said...

i really love her little drawing. it's so perfect. definitely a keeper. sounds like you're making a good choice. trust mama instinct.

Kerry and Dave said...

Wow, popular post - I'm like the 10th comment here! Anyway, I think it's great you are doing this. It'll re-enforce her self confidence at this tender age. But, I know it's hard. I watched as my little T had to be put under general anesthesia for his surgery a few months ago and it was NOT fun. But, I knew it was the right decision and we've been glad that we did it, knowing that was one part of his body that we wanted to look "normal." :)

Steve and Cami said...

Berkeley couldn't get cuter. I can't believe what a beautiful girl she is growing into. I remember her as a little baby that I would get up from her nap and play with while you and Kendall went to Gymboree class. We'll be thinking of you guys and hope all goes well.