Surgery: A reader

New readers of this blog have asked me why my daughter is getting surgery, why she needs so much surgery, that sort of thing.

Because I don’t like it when people feel left out — I’m all about the love here — I’ve compiled some old posts that should help get you up to speed.

The deal: When she was a couple months old, a hemangioma started growing on her cheek. Hemangiomas are fairly common spots that occur when blood vessels grow like mad. Many people let them go away on their own.

However, because this one was located on our child’s face, and these things often take around 12 years to disappear, doctors worried about it possibly growing up into her eye and harming her vision. Because of its heft, they also worried about her toddling into something, busting it open and creating a blood loss the likes of which would have forced a high strung mother like myself into a mental hospital, etc, etc. Couple all this with the fact that my husband and I didn’t want her to get picked on, and we went ahead with this series of laser surgeries that would shrink and obliterate this spot.

She has had ten of these surgeries so far. She is scheduled for at least two more.

You can read about a typical surgery day here.

So far, the lasering has yielded great results. The spot has gone from looking like she had a raised, quarter-sized burn on her face to looking like a faint bruise.

Once the lasering is done, the doctor says he will eventually extract the remaining hemangioma (doing it while it was large would involve crazy blood loss, thus the lasering) and graft the skin together so there is a minor scar.

He says this will be taken care of by the time she starts school.

Is this hard on her? I’m sure it is on some level, but she fares well overall. Children are resilient little people; more often than not, their parents are the ones struggling to bounce back.

Wee Avery is always ready to party like a rock star about an hour after the deed is done.

Me, I need a day or so to recover.

Of course, people stop and stare, especially after a surgery because people have seen too many commercials full of Gerber babies with flawless, bruise-free skin. Some assume I am kicking my child’s ass; one lovely woman even approached Avery in a mall one day, crouched down in front of her and said “Ooh, did Mommy give you a smacking?” (I love those bitches. They are my favorite.)

I also have been asked whether she has ringworm on her face, whether someone gave her a hickey on her cheek, and just too many dumb and out-of-line things to count. As Avery understands more things that people say, these comments just make me angry about how inconsiderate people can be and sad for her. But it will be wrapped up soon and I look to that as my light in this tunnel of early mornings, uncertain reactions to anesthesia, and bruised cheeks.

At the end of the day, her surgeries are so incredibly minor compared to what other parents face.

And yet, I still speak of all this as a parent who just doesn’t want her baby to hurt.

In the meantime, there is always insurance to deal with; I am not the only mom out there posting in frustration about the maddening bureaucracy surrounding approvals and deductibles and so forth. None of what Avery faces on a near-monthly basis could happen without our insurance. Yet there is such a tiring fight to make sure her care happens at all. Through some small miracle everything winds up covered, but it’s not like we don’t live in fear of a strange several thousand dollar bill appearing in our mailbox when we least expect it.

It has happened before.

When we don’t have children, it’s funny to think of how our lives will shake out as parents. None of our visions typically involve unpredictability and imperfection, or endless surgeries, insurance fights and terrifying doctor’s bills.

Real live children often come with all those things.

And as hard as it can be at times, I wouldn’t trade my life with this little person for anyone else’s in the world.