The Fragility of Life
Our little boy was born with a small mole on his lower back. Rather like a freckle. None of my babies had been born with freckles before and over the next couple of weeks it grew in size to a large, flat mole. I pointed it out to the doctor at his 6 week check and was told that it was a cafe au lait mark and nothing to worry about. He also had a brown mark on his belly button. I remember her commenting on a couple of little dimples he has too and her saying that he was an odd little baby because of these little things. I don’t think she meant it in a horrible way, more that she had never really seen these things before.
I’ll be honest, I went home and googled cafe au lait markings and didn’t much like what I found. I stepped away from google and concentrated on the fact that the doctor was happy he was ok.
Fast forward nearly two years. His belly button turned a normal colour, the dimples remain but the mole starts to get darker. One side becomes raised, then the other and one day I noticed it bleeding. Obviously I thought the worst but I tried to ignore it for a few days, hoping it would go back to normal on its own. It didn’t so I took him straight to the doctor. I hoped the doctor would think I was making a fuss but he immediately got out a professional looking camera kit, rulers and photographed his mole to be sent to the hospital for review. I was told they would look at it within a day or two and get back to us. Less than a week later a letter appeared from the doctor saying that the hospital wanted to see him urgently and that we should have an appointment within 2 weeks.
It was the word ‘urgently’ that upset me the most. I wanted him to be seen obviously but I didn’t want it to be urgent. I didn’t want it to be anything serious. I wanted to be told it was ok, I was being silly. I cried to my best friend on the phone. We waited for his appointment and his mole got worse. It became red and raised around the edge. I grew more anxious about it and the hospital gave us a cancellation appointment so we could be seen sooner.
In the middle of all of this came his second birthday. I can’t explain to you how weird I felt about it. I wanted to celebrate his birthday, but not do anything particularly special. I didn’t want to be thinking this was his last birthday, that we were making a massive effort because I was worried he wouldn’t have another or that he would be ill next year. I didn’t want to have a party because I didn’t feel like celebrating. I felt guilty for every thought that I had. In the end we had a lovely day with family and he had a wonderful day. I felt so sad on his birthday I think if I had stopped for a minute I would have burst into tears but I put on a happy face.
I didn’t really tell many people. Only my closest friends and my mum. I didn’t want to worry anyone and I also didn’t really want to talk about it. I wanted to put him on our church prayers list but I couldn’t without questions and then I felt guilty, thinking maybe I wasn’t doing everything that I could. I tried to block it out of my mind, to pretend it wasn’t happening. I’d google pictures of moles for hours, comparing them to his, reading horror stories and feeling sick to my stomach.
5 weeks ago we saw the consultant at the hospital. He examined Little Boy’s mole very closely under the microscope for a long time. He sat at his desk and began writing. He didn’t say a word for ages. I remember wanting to shake him, to tell him to say something, anything! He finally turned to us and explained that he didn’t think Little Boy’s mole looked cancerous but it was definitely irritated and inflamed so it was hard to tell. To remove the mole would be a big deal due to the size of it and it would require general anaesthetic so he was reluctant to do it at this stage. He prescribed very strong steroids which he hoped would help with the inflammation so he could take a better look at the mole in 5 weeks time. We were sent to medical photography where it was measured and photographed for his records.
So, it was good news, but not great news. We were still on a bit of a waiting game. We used the cream and the redness and raised texture lessened. We felt a little more reassured. We went back for our follow up appointment on Friday. My best friend babysat the girls for us, we hadn’t even told them what was happening. We turned up at the hospital, anxious for a good outcome but so nervous we couldn’t eat any breakfast.
This time the doctor took another look under the microscope and was much happier with what he saw. The redness had reduced and he said he was more confident that the mole is benign. We have an open door to go back if it changes again at any time and a follow up appointment in year. We were once again sent to medical photography for more photos so they can keep track of the changes. So it was very good news.
As with anything though, it is not exactly an all-clear. There is a list of things that make a mole look suspicious and Little Boy’s mole ticks a couple of those boxes. We’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on it. I am delighted the doctor was more confident the mole isn’t anything sinister of course, I was so happy I could cry on Friday. But it definitely reminded me of how fragile life is. One little mole could have spelled something tragic. It could still spell something awful in the future. We don’t know what life has in store for us. I took this photo as I left the hospital and you may have seen it if you follow me on Instagram.
I have love / hate relationship with this hospital. This week they gave us great news. Next year they might give us bad news. I have had all three of my gorgeous babies here but I also lost one at nearly 12 weeks here, on the way to the EPAU, in the early hours of the morning in a toilet cubicle I probably couldn’t find again. This place really is life and death in one bundle, the good, the bad and the downright ugly. I’d be very happy if I never had to go there again, but at the same time very glad that it is there if we need it, and sadly we always do. They say that the Lord giveth and he taketh away and this place really highlights that for me.
Life is brilliant, magical, wonderful but oh so fragile.