Identical twins. Two children, of the same sex, that look exactly alike in their external features, and share the same DNA. That is what I was prepared for. I was prepared to have trouble telling the girls apart. I was prepared for people always asking “who is who”. I was prepared for Parent Trap inspired switches both at home, and at school. What I was not prepared for was one child having a birthmark on her face.
When the girls were born, they looked exactly alike. So much alike that we had to paint one toe nail on each girl a different color. I had purchased gold bracelets with their names on it, and each baby was assigned a binky color. Rowe’s was pink (like a rose!) and Lennon’s was purple. Actually, they still are. In those first few weeks my tired eyes definitely mixed them up a few times. But only for a minute, haha!
Then, around when they were 5 weeks old, a birthmark on Rowe’s face began to appear. It started out below her right eye, and grew up to her eyebrow. It was light brown, but noticeable. To say I wasn’t devastated was a lie. My daughter’s face was now permanently marked. You never think of those things when anticipating the birth of your child. This post is hard for me to write, because I am ashamed at how upset I was by this birthmark.
At first, I was in denial. Maybe it was a bruise, or just a weird skin disorder that would go away. When it was still there a few months later. I became a sad wreck. She was still the most beautiful baby in the world, in my eyes. But I began to fear what others would think and say about it. Would she grow up being teased? We all know how big of an issue bullying currently is. And I dread the day my sweet little Rosie comes home from school, crying, because someone made fun of her birthmark.
Then, I was sad because she no longer looked just like her sister. Would people call her the “ugly twin” because of this mark? And I hated the fact that this would be a tell-tale way to tell them apart. Not the pink binky, or that she is slightly smaller. Would people always favor one over the other because of this?
Everyone tells me, “It can easily be covered with makeup when she is older.” – but that’s the thing. I don’t want my daughter to feel like she has to start wearing makeup in elementary school and then, at all times!
We took her to Detroit to a pediatric dermatologist when she was about 7 months old. They checked her body for any other similar spots, but this was the only one. Which was a good thing! She was diagnosed with a café-au-lait macule (a very common type of birthmark), and it was highly likely that it would not fade. There are laser treatments that can be done when she is older, but they will hurt, and there is no guarantee it will lighten the birthmark. While I am glad she has options, I am still unsure where we stand on this.
Would she want us to get the treatment done at a young age to avoid any potential bullying? Or would she want us to let her make the decision. As a parent, you always want to protect your child, so I am leaning toward attempting the laser treatment on a small area to see how it works. Then moving forward from there. But does that make me selfish???
I’ll never forget the few times strangers, and even people I know, have looked at her and asked “what happened to her eye?”. It makes my heart sink and my stomach churn. I then explain that it is a birthmark, and that we think it makes her unique.
I actually didn’t truly come to terms with the birthmark until she was about one-year-old. Of course I still thought she was adorable and beautiful and perfect. But I still feared for the future, the name calling and the tears. Until a little girl, maybe ten years old, told me that it was the most beautiful birthmark she had ever seen. It was in that moment that I knew my amazing miracle baby girl was going to be loved, and accepted. I know there will still be comments, I am ready for those. But my child is going to have a wonderful life. I will be certain of that.
A lot of people are very surprised when they first notice the birthmark. It is very light, and sometimes not very noticeable in indoor light. And especially in a lot of photos. But out in the sun light, it is definitely more apparent. I know we must be careful with the sun, as it will make it darker in the summer. But the most important thing is that she is HEALTHY, she is HAPPY and she is LOVED.
It is in this blog that I ask you – moms, dads, grandparents, friends, teachers – please educate your children on differences. Please emphasize how important it is to be different; not just in personality, but in appearance as well. Teach your children to be kind, loving and accepting. My hope is that if we can emphasize this to our children and peers, that my child (and yours) will have one less reason to cry as she grows older and begins to explore the world.
To my Rosie girl: I love you more than life itself. You are beautiful, kind and smart. You are silly, spunky and a crazy dancer. There isn’t a thing about you that I don’t love and cherish. You are going to rule the world someday, and I can’t wait to watch it. xoxox