Thursday, March 29, 2012

My "Not So Much A Birthmark" Birthmark

When I was a little girl I remember my parents always explaining the white patch that covers my right palm and wrist as my “birthmark”, unique to only me, they said there was none just like it. They were right at least about half of that statement. To this day, I have never seen one quite like it, snow white with cloud-like edges it shines even brighter when I tan in the summer and tends to blend in to my pale skin in the winter months. It never tans and never changes shape or size. The part they were wrong about was the term they used…. “birthmark”. Yes, they were correct it is a mark and I was born with it, and I am sure the doctors told them, upon their questioning of it, that it was “just a birthmark and nothing more” but they too were very, very wrong. Dozens of people have commented on it throughout the years with things such as “did you burn your arm?” and I would answer “no it’s just a birthmark” (not that anyone’s burn marks ever look like this I don’t know why so many people assumed that), and to my knowledge I was not lying just repeating what I was told. If it had not been for Liam I would have never even questioned my “birthmark”. Then one day last week I made a shocking discovery.

While researching my son’s Ocular Albinism condition, I found a site which explained that even though the condition is inherited from the mother, the mother will not show any signs or symptoms to know that she is a carrier of the condition except to a trained ophthalmologist who would notice the mottling on the back of her eyes if any is present. Then it explained the exception….. Apparently sometimes the mother will show outward signs of mottling on her skin though very rare. (Mottling, they say, is any discoloration or lack of pigment/coloring in the skin.) The site specifically states that a mother who is an OA carrier can rarely have a patch or several patches of skin that appear completely “snow white” from the lack of pigment. Well now that explains it!! My so called “birthmark” was not a birthmark at all; it was and is a sign that I am an OA carrier. I may or may not have mottling present on the back of my eyes but I do have a clear indicator of the gene right in front of me every day.

If I had known that from the start I don’t think Liam’s diagnosis would have shocked us near as much as it did, but all the same I am sure growing up the best way I could have possibly explained it even had I know would have been “oh it’s just my birthmark” and I would have left it at that. Now to me it is no longer my birthmark, though it is a mark and I was born with it, it is now a tie, a tie that binds me and Liam and makes us both unique together. We carry the same mark, me on my wrist and he on his eyes, and though I won’t be telling him that it is just a birthmark he has on his eyes, at least I can tell him he is not alone. He, in one way, one very unique way, is just like his Mommie.

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