October 11, 2010

Mixed emotions

A week from today my beautiful girl will have her first appointment with the laser surgeon.  The procedure itself will last less than fifteen minutes from the time anesthesia starts until I'm called back to recovery.  Much less complicated and involved than the two eye surgeries she's had so far.

And yet I find myself in much more inner turmoil about this appointment.

First of all, here's the discomfort factor.  I've been told by other moms that it simply ranges for different kids.  Some take Tylenol after the procedure and are fine.  Others have been prescribed heavy pain meds.   My girl seems to have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but sometimes I still wonder if she really is 'tough stuff' or if it is still that sense self reliance rearing its ugly head.  I cringe to think that she'd maybe rather be in pain than fully count on me to help make it go away.

But far beyond the discomfort, there's the message that I'm afraid at some point that she may interpret out of seemingly cosmetic surgery.

That's the part I dread.  That she may misunderstand why.  Before she is old enough to fully comprehend the surgery, will she think that I didn't think she was beautiful enough?  Because she is!  Will she think that each time I've stroked that little red cheek that I haven't meant it when I said, 'piao liang' (beautiful)?  Because I have!  Is there a possibility that she'll interpret our decision to move forward with treatment as an effort to 'fix her face?'  Because that's not what it's about!

I'm struggling here.  This is an elective surgery that at the very least will be itchy and uncomfortable.  I also know it will cause small, circular, purple bruises all over the right side of my baby girl's body.  I realize it likely will draw even more attention to her birthmark.  A birthmark she's so sensitive about that it caused her to hide her face from us the day we met her.  If there were a way that I could shield her from the harsh days of middle school, or even curious adults who have asked insensitive questions in front of her, we would likely skip the number of treatments it will take before Dr. B thinks the port wine stain is as faded as it will get.  If there were guarantees that over the years the stain wouldn't thicken and possibly cause vision issues from swelling of the eyelid or breathing issues as it covered her darling little nose, we wouldn't have a trip bright and early next Monday to Duke on our calendar. 

Because in my eyes, she is absolutely beautiful.  Just as she is right now.  I don't see her port wine stain.  It simply isn't possible for me to focus on it at all.  I can't get past her smile...


  1. Our beautiful 5 year old daughter also has a large port wine stain on her face. It has been necessary to undergo laser treatments for medical purposes every 3 months. The polka bruises are ugly, but NOT our gorgeous little girl. The bruises will heal and fade. (She proudly calls her birthmark her "angel kiss.") During this time, while the bruises heal large, pretty hats are worn and we gather the troups!!! (i.e. teachers are more attentive, the older kids look out for her, and we educate everyone that asks questions... this is only a temporary condition..

  2. Taralee815@hotmail.com10/11/10, 9:58 AM

    ughhh...dagger to the heart....my heart hurts for you because I am already doing the same thing in my head regarding our angel. We just sent in our LOI for Wu Qing and she is a 3 yr old burn survivor. She has scarring on her scalp, forehead, above the eyelids, a little on her cheeks. I frankly think she is adorable and I don't want her to ever think that she is anything but beautiful...however, she will have to have surgeries to release some of her scars at they will contract as she grows. I myself am a burn survivor but I got of easy...my scars are hidden by clothing. How do you communicate this concept of you are beautiful ...But...we need to fix this one thing. Makes my heart break. And your angel is extremely beautiful by the way and I know you know that and feel it in your heart every time you look at her. What are the right words to give a child in this situation...I am kind of at a loss...you want to tell them that you will do anything and everything medically possible for them if they want their scar fixed but at the same time you don't want them to think that a scar matters and teach them their beauty is what is inside of them....definitley a hard one to figure out the right words.

  3. I was recently struggling witht he same thing with our cleft child. She had the lip and nose revision a few weeks back, and I wrote about it on our blog....

    No words of wisdom, right there with you though. I hate ever second of the "world" dictating what we should or should not look like, and "normal" appearance. Unfortuantly that is the way it is though, and I can't just change that. I know one day her appearance will be very important to her (ugh) and I want to support that, but she looked perfect to us before, after and no matter what happens. Its a fine line....
    I grieved like crazy for her "old" face....I finally had to just get over it because it was consumming me.

  4. Kristi I can well relate to your feelings as we go back and forth about different opinions and choices for our children. It's hard! But remember that you and Ian are Darcy's momma and daddy because God knew you would do what's best for her! His plan for Darcy's life is amazing and good, and ultimately, He will make sure that the decisions yall make are what Darcy needs the most! Rest confidently in the truth that He is guiding your every step.
    Thank you so much for sharing the feelings we have all felt as parents: "am I doing the right thing?" Thankfully, He's got our backs!
    And I can't get past that smile either! RADIANT!

  5. Oh goodness, Kristi. I can imagine this is a tough decision to make, but you know your heart and it is for GOOD for your beautiful girl :)
    Thank you for sharing on this tough subject, I know that as parents we all face decisions that are difficult and your words connect with many of us mamas who just want to do right by the kiddos He has entrusted to us!
    Praying that her recovery is relatively pain free and that God gives you peace over this decision!
    And that smile?!? GORGEOUS :)

  6. Hi-
    I'm praying for you and for your daughter and for those that say mean things without engaging their brain first (or their heart for that matter) It's hard, I know first hand how awful middle school can be. I was an ugly duckling until 11th grade, on top of that I had a BIG mouth. nuf said, but it made me very STRONG and also caused me to look at a person's heart first and face second. I don't see your daughter's birth mark, I see her beautiful smile, cute little nose, and Jesus' light shining out of her gorgeous eyes. (Seriously though, I REALLY don't see the birth mark!)

  7. Thank you for this beautiful heartfelt post. We've got some of this going on regularly with our Li'l E's microtia.

    I've had tons of well-meaning folks ask if we are going to "fix" Li'l E's ear - mostly those that don't really "get" that to fix her ear would NOT "fix" her hearing. I sometimes get the "you know, to make it look more normal" edge to the conversations. So far, at the nudging of our ENT, I've been able to handle "innocent" and purely information seeking inquiries with "Well, as it's a purely cosmetic and potentially very painful set of procedures, we've agreed with our ENT that that will have to be her choice when she's old enough to understand all the implications."

    It's those folks that push back on the "symmetry" and "normal-looking" part of their understanding that leave me speechless and stressing over our culture's emphasis on everything about a woman looking just so. I just keep praying over her that she learns to see her WHOLE self as Jesus sees her. And as her Daddy and sibs and I see her - just as beautiful as Jesus made her to be. Cuz, you know, she IS.