At her two week doctor's appointment all was well, but at her two month appointment the doctor noticed her swollen eyelid. Over the next month or so her left eyelid was swollen and a little bruised looking. Concerned (or just nosy!) strangers and relatives had questioned me about what it was. They gave me advice, "It's probably a clogged duct. Use cold or hot compresses," or simply asked, "What happened to her eye?"
The problem is that I didn't know. The doctor had looked at it and had an idea about what it might be, but that she'd take another look at her four-month appointment. In those two months, what I later found out was a capillary hemangioma--a vascular tumor on the top eyelid of her left eye--became more and more obvious--sometimes it was redder and more swollen than other days, but it was always something that was "not normal." I had to field questions and advice from strangers without having a definitive answer as the doctor was waiting to see what would develop in the next two months.
When we returned to the doctor two months later, she confirmed that it was what she had thought. I asked her what caused it, and she said without thinking, "It's just a birth defect."
"A defect," I thought. "My first-born child is defective. She's not perfect."
That led to a referral to a pediatric ophthalmologist who we saw at least every eight weeks, and frequently more often than that. We patched her "good eye" for half her waking hours so that the tumor wouldn't rob that eye of its sight. Before she was six months old, she was prescribed her first pair of glasses. The glasses on such a young baby and the patching along with the appearance of her eye continued to attract questions and stares.
As we drove out of the doctor's office after I had picked up her first pair of glasses, silent tears welled up. "My baby," I thought. Loss brought the tears to my eyes. Loss over what, I'm still not sure--the idea of a perfect baby, the problems that wearing glasses might create for her (and me), concern for the long term affect on her vision?
When we changed doctors when Amanda was about four years old, all signs of the tumor were gone (they generally shrink on their own)--so much so that the doctor would not even had known if I hadn't have told him.
She still wears glasses, but at nine-and-a-half years old, so do many of her classmates. She no longer has a visible imperfection, but I've long since given up the idea of having a perfect child.
Reading Jennifer Graf Groneberg's book Road Map to Holland brought up these memories. I reviewed the book over at 5 Minutes for Mom today. You can win one of three copies, too. Please go check out this book that I could not recommend more highly.