Make Your Birthmark on the World



It started as a small red mark at two weeks old and it grew and doubled in size quite rapidly. We would later learn that our daughter had a rare vascular birthmark. Infantile hemangiomas (IH) are benign, noncancerous blood vessel tumors that form on or below the skin, or in an organ. And our sweet girl has one smack dab in the middle of her forehead.

Our first instinct was to hide this small imperfection with a hat or bow. A simple way to avoid the endless questions and looks from passersby. Although, just as quickly as it appeared, it became a part of our little one and what makes her…well her! It also gives us the opportunity to celebrate and bring awareness to vascular birthmarks.

Does it break my heart when the first thing someone sees when they meet our daughter is her birthmark? Oh, absolutely. But we simply reply, “That’s her beautiful strawberry birthmark!”

Mother and newborn daughter in the mirror
Photo courtesy of Brooke Brady Photography @brookebradyphotography

Shortly after she was diagnosed, we began treatment to help stunt the growth of her fast growing hemangioma. I was a bucket of nerves and desperately searching for a community for families on the same journey. That’s when I found the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation and connected with other families that shared our story.  It helped bring comfort during an isolated and scary time for two new parents.

Flash forward two years, her birthmark is slowly fading in size and color but still present just below her hairline. This set the stage for conversations about self love, acceptance and inspired our daily affirmations. Yet I wasn’t quite ready for the day our daughter looked in the mirror and called her birthmark a boo boo

Books written about self love and vascular birthmarks
Titles about self love and vascular birthmarks: You Are Enough written by Margaret O’Hair, I Like Myself! written by Karen Beaumont, My Special Mark written by Kira McCaw and The Ladybug Without Spots written by Tania Scaduto

My heart sank and I immediately started searching for any resources that could help us navigate this new season with a child with a vascular birthmark. Although the selection was limited, we found a handful of books that helped us celebrate and educate our one-of-kind girl! 

Each book provided us with the language to teach my curious toddler about her special birthmark. My heart melted the night she looked in the mirror, pointed and exclaimed, “my strawberry!” It also helped that her new baby brother had a matching strawberry birthmark too! 

14 in 100 children are born with a vascular birthmark, the most common are hemangiomas or port wine stain birthmarks. 

Types of Vascular Birthmarks
Photo courtesy of The Vascular Birthmarks Foundation

Vascular Birthmark Awareness Month

May is Vascular Birthmark Awareness Month and our hope is to bring awareness for individuals with VBARS (vascular birthmarks, anomalies, and/or related syndromes). While some birthmarks are small and fade with time, others can be large and be seen at all ages. 

This is our story of resilience, love and the power of community. And I hope our story inspires you to start the conversation about acceptance and compassion with your little ones – no matter the age. 

This month we embrace and celebrate all people with vascular birthmarks. And help spread the message that all individuals, regardless of appearance, are beautifully and perfectly made.

To learn more about vascular birthmarks, visit The Vascular Birthmarks Foundation.


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