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Five Weeks and a Day - A NICU Story - Day 16

Day 16 - August 29, 2014

Sometime in the last week or so LoLa has developed this red spot on her scalp. The doctors inform us that it is a hemangioma. These are more prevalent in preemies than term babies, especially females. They say it is kind of like a birthmark and that it will grow with her for the first year. After that it will start to go away. I assume that means it's similar to any other birthmark.

That is not the case. Hemangioma literally breaks down to mean blood vessel tumor: heme=blood / angio=vessel / oma=tumor. After I do a bit of research on my own, I discover that it is not at all a birthmark. It will grow and expand outward until it reaches peak growth and then it will start a process called involution where it will begin to collapse on itself and recede. There are potential treatments but they are risky and only recommended when the location and size of the hemangioma interferes with motor function, such as if it were on her mouth or hand or near her eye.

We have no idea what to expect when the doctors tell us this will grow. What we decide is that this is a part of our little girl and it's okay, whatever happens with it. We will take it as it comes. People seem to think that it is comforting or helpful to point out that it's behind her hairline and her hair will grow in and cover it. This is true. However, as someone who grew up with a prominent scar on her face, I know that even if this hemangioma were situated on the tip of her nose, square in the center of her face, that it will not distract from her beauty. Because I already know this kid has fire in her veins and is going to persevere through everything life throws at her. And in turn, her outsides will match her insides, in time.

A timeline of LoLa's hemangioma progression:

  • September 2014: The hemangioma goes from flat and small to larger and raised in less than a month.

  • October 2014: The hemangioma grows disproportionately more than her head, and intensifies in color.

  • November 2014 - The hemangioma on her head looks larger. Here you can also see the spot on her eye (which I have since decided is/was definitely a hemangioma also, as it has taken the same course as the one on her head from expansion to involution). It is also hairy, like that eyeball she's giving.

  • January 2015 - It is noticeably lighter in color.

  • March 2015 - Lighter and flatter!

  • May 2015 - Eyelid and head spots are both continuing to involute quickly.

  • August 2015 - a year later, it is much flatter and lighter in color, especially in the middle.

  • April 2016 - Nearly fully involuted.

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