Those of you who have been reading for a long time (or have read my archives) might remember that Madeline had a large hemangioma on her back. Hemangiomas, for those of you who don’t know, are (to put it simply) blood vessel tumors. They usually appear on babies within weeks of birth and tend to resolve on their own within five years to ten years. They are very scary-looking but technically are benign (although a hemangioma on an internal organ can lead to a multitude of complications).
Maddie’s hemangioma developed when she was six weeks old. I remember noticing it and grabbing a nurse to ask about it (she was still in the NICU at the time). It looked like a blood blister on her shoulder-blade. The nurse was kind and explained that it was harmless, and I remember her saying specifically that Maddie was “lucky” because her hemangioma was on her back and not her face.
The hemangioma on Maddie’s left shoulder-blade grew bigger and bigger, and even though it never bothered her, I was a bit scared of it. It just seemed so big and angry – I used to have nightmares that it would burst. But her pediatrician, Dr. Looove, told me it was nothing to worry about.
Some of you with eagle eyes might have noticed that James also had hemangiomas. When he was about seven weeks old, I noticed a cluster of about seven freckles on his neck…except when I looked closer I immediately recognized the angry red color of hemangiomas. Our next visit to Dr. Looove confirmed it, and then it was just a waiting game to see how big they would get. I feared that each spot on his neck would get as large as the hemangioma on Maddie’s back, and I was worried that, because of their location, large hemangiomas would make it hard for him to move his head and neck.
Luckily for James, while a few of the spots merged, they never got much bigger than the size of a pencil eraser. They were located near the base of his neck, and most shirts covered or camouflaged them. Occasionally strangers would notice the spots when we were out, and they’d yelp, “He’s bleeding!” which was always super-fun.
I made the decision to not write much about his hemangiomas as they grew…he was already strikingly similar to Maddie in a lot of ways, and for my own emotional well-being I didn’t want to add one more thing to the public list. But whenever anyone asked me about them, I always up-front about what they were and was happy to answer any questions about the spots.
So why am I bringing it up now? Well, a lot of people lately (in real life and online) have noticed that the hemangiomas are gone, and have asked if we had them removed. Nope! They have mostly resolved on their own, with no intervention from us. If you look closely at his neck you can see discoloration on the skin (almost like scars) where the tumors were, but the lumps and angry red color are completely gone.
From a medical standpoint, I think it’s fascinating that two of my children developed hemangiomas. There’s no known cause for them, but some doctors theorize that they’re hereditary and our family would certainly point to that (although there are no other known cases of vascular tumors on either side of our extended families). They’re more common in preemies and females, which can definitely explain Maddie, but not James.
James’ hemangiomas faded so gradually that I didn’t even realize they were gone until a few months ago when I looked at an old picture of him. Now that they’re gone, I almost miss them—their disappearance is just another sign that my baby boy is growing up. Although, I definitely do NOT miss strange ladies screaming at me that my child’s neck is bleeding! So I think everything worked out for the best.