"This is going to grow, " the pediatrician told me back in 2002, when she noticed a tiny birthmark on Julia's two-week old arm. "It's called a hemangioma. We won't need to do anything about it," she said. "It will eventually go away."
By age six months, the hemangioma was bigger than my baby's arm.
Because of the birthmark, I dressed Julia in long sleeves for most of her baby pictures. Even though it was part of her, I was afraid if the birthmark showed in a photo, it would be all anyone would notice. On just one occasion, I had her photographed with her birthmark in plain view. As she grew older, I wanted to remember everything about her baby years - including her birthmark. I wanted her to know that I wasn't ashamed of how God made her.
Everywhere we went, people stared. Some asked questions. Occasionally kids were mean, but most of the time they were just embarrassingly honest. My standard line was, "It doesn't hurt. It's a birthmark and it will go away on its own when she's older." My matter of fact response was mainly meant for Julia's ears.
Nine years later, Julia's birthmark is almost gone. The doctor was right. The huge mass has mostly vanished and it's no longer bright red. What's left is mostly stretched-out, loose skin on her right arm.
Today I asked her if she'd like to have the loose skin on her arm removed by a surgeon. Her response was priceless.
"Why?" she gasped. "This is how God made me." She seemed appalled that I'd even suggest such a thing.
"This birthmark is something special that God gave me. When God looks at all the people in the world, this birthmark is part of what makes me, me. . ." She stumbled for the right words. "Why would we want to remove a part of me that God made?"
"Do people ask you about it?"
"All the time."
"What do you say?"
"I say, 'It's a birthmark."
Well, there you go.
1 day ago