Thursday, August 09, 2007

See, Spot

Wyatt's birth could've been torn from the pages of a pregnancy book compared to those of my other babies.

After almost exactly 30 minutes of pushing, greatly coaxed along by a lovely epidural administered by an angel, and to the positive reinforcement of my own personal cheering squad coupled with another group waiting (and cheering) in the hallway, Wyatt entered this world. All 9 pounds 8 ounces of him (I have to point that out each time I talk about his birth because I still can't believe he was that big and of course, I want to impress everyone with that fact).

He was placed on my chest (just like they said in the books!) and peered up at me as soon as he was cut free.

His little head (well, big head) and body were merely swiped clean after being declared perfect and a little pink and blue striped hat was placed upon his noggin. It would be 2 hours before that hat came off again.

There we were in the former nursery, about to give Wyatt his first bath. I was still in shock and awe that they allowed me to stand upright just after having a baby (my first delivery was not at all like this). I am sure those medications that flowed freely into my bloodstream were helping the process along a little, but that's neither here nor there. Point is, I was ecstatic to be standing, participating in the care of my newborn.

As the nurse readied the sink for Wyatt's bath, Brett and I tackled the task of undressing him.

Off came his little socks.

Off came his ill-fitting "gown".

Off came his hat.

"What is on his head?" I asked as I gazed at the raw, bloody area on the very top of his head. A circle-shaped wound the size of a half dollar (which did seem large, even on his not-so-tiny newborn head) was overlooked when the cap was placed upon him.

I felt my knees buckle.

Or were both of my legs attempting to give out completely?

I felt my pulse quicken and my anxiety level rise.

I wanted answers and I wanted them now.

After being assured that those weren't his brains I was looking at (well, new mother panic cannot be reasoned with in many cases), I decided to accept the fact that we'd speak to the pediatrician in the morning, but that he was fine.

Still, my heart wasn't hearing that. I do not think I let him go the entire night.

Upon morning, the pediatrician came to call. He knew us, knew me and most likely knew that although I'd done this once before, I'd be presenting him with more than the usual "when do we circumcise the baby?" questions. He got more than he bargained for that morning, and every visit we had for the next few months as we "watched" Wyatt's spot heal into scar tissue.

The spot was declared an "ectodermal defect", not caused by his birth (as it was not long and drawn out) or his birth weight (did I mention that he weighed 9 pounds 8 ounces? Oh, okay) but most likely his position in utero, resting head-down and rubbing back and forth on my pubic bone for months. Months.

We didn't even notice the spot after a while, unless we were slathering sunscreen on it. Wyatt wasn't really aware of it either, unless some incredibly rude person would comment about it (I love people with no social filters, makes me want to go up and give all of them a great, big hug), at which point I would quietly and as calmly as possible tell them what it was and that we "don't really need to point it out".

Wyatt's spot was removed when he was four and a half years old.

After a lengthy consult with the pediatric surgeon at Children's, we were given only a few days before the surgery was scheduled. The procedure was explained clearly to us. The risk of not doing the surgery was also talked about in length. We decided that it was the best route to go, and necessary to avoid skin cancer in the future - no matter how much sunscreen we applied.

What was not explained was how I would feel the moments before the tube was to be inserted down my baby's throat.

What was not explained was how deeply and how violently I would cry at the sight of his unconscious body being tended to by a team of masked medical people.

But how do you prepare someone for something like that? It is impossible.

When the hours were finally over and my poor husband was let go from my grip (I am sure he didn't appreciate the fingernail marks I left on the back of his hand, but he's tough, he didn't complain one little bit) we were told that Wyatt did beautifully, that the surgery went well and he was waiting for us in recovery.

My first glances of him post-spot were foggy. I just wanted to hold him. He just wanted to throw up, and then eat some jell-o, and then throw up again. I just wanted to hold him.

He healed better than anyone I'd ever seen. Better than I would have, and without anything stronger than a Tylenol after the first day. He told us that it didn't hurt. He never once complained. We spent the next week trying to keep him from jumping off his bunk bed and having pillow fights with his older brother (which was no easy task). A few weeks later the last of the stitches fell out and got lost in his hair, revealing the shiny, new, pink scar in all it's glory.

The place where his spot was, was now gone.

Gone were the days when I could pick my son out of a group of preschoolers from the back because of his little bald spot. Gone were the days of worrying if I had put enough sunscreen on his head. Gone were the days when I worried that other kids would tease him for being different. Gone were the days of being approached by total strangers about my son's head. Gone, for good.

Now Wyatt will notice himself in pictures before his surgery and say "Look, there's my spot!" like he's seeing a long-lost friend. His nostalgia for his spot brings all the emotions and the feelings from the surgery flooding back like a raging river and it is all I can do not to grab the top of his very tall head and kiss the scar than runs along it. Cover it, in kisses.

I do that often.


Lisa said...

Awwww. What an amazing post.

In our family, he'd be 50 years old and we'd still be calling him "Spot." (Out of LOVE mind you... Ornery love.)

It IS difficult to watch your child be put "under". Did that just a few months ago (ruptured ear drum stuff.)

Grim Reality Girl said...

Oh!!!!!!! You got me. Pardon as I wipe the tears.... I know the feeling well. When my daughter was put under for a surgery I thought I would die. When she broke her arm and needed 3 doctors to set it.... you could have killed me. Aren't you glad that is behind you? You son sounds so very sweet! 9 pounds 8 ounces.... OUCH!

jen said...

oh honey. such a lovely mom you are. the depth of your love. the present-ness.

i think i would miss his spot.

Christina_the_wench said...

*sniff* Stop it. It's Friday and I don't wanna cry.

Sandra said...

This one got me like no other. I am all teary as I imagine I too would miss his spot.

Stunning post Carrie.

Becc said...

Wonderful post!

It makes me sick to my stomach to feel your emotions!

Thank God he is happy and healthy and well! (and he IS very handsome!)

Came to you from Jenn's comment page.

Scout's Honor said...

As a mom of a 10 lbs 1 ounce birth weight son and daughter who just had surgery at Children's, I know exactly what you are saying. I am so glad it all worked out.

It's great finding all these Seattle blogs!

creative-type dad said...

Such a great story

Ann(ie) said...

Oh girlie. What a scary time, but such a beautiful story and great ending!! You're such a special mama. It's so very clear how much your love your great precious babies!! xo.

Annie said...

What a beautiful post. It brought tears to my eyes and I'm all choked up empathising with your emotions through all of this. I especially love the image of Wyatt happy to see his spot in photos.

I just stumbled across your blog today, and I'll definitely be back. Also, I just had to comment on how gorgeous your children are. I'm sure you hear that all the time, but seriously, they are beautiful.

Slackermommy said...

How frightening! My firstborn was born with a nose that was smashed from her being breech. Her face was lodged up under my rib. Her nose did eventually regain it's shape but it was still shocking to not see her look like the perfect baby we all expect to have.

So far only one of my children has had surgery and like you seeing her out of it brings on a lot of emotions. And I'm a nurse!

Jenny said...

Beautiful, tender, amazing.

Your post and your wonderful son.

AmandaD said...

Wow. I kept bubbling up, sputtering gleefully about birthing my own 9 pound 8 ounce wonder, about growing up in Washington...and then the hat came off. You beautifully conveyed the waves of emotions and reactions as a mom. So very moving. Beautiful!