She was born with a birthmark on her face – big angel’s kiss on the right side of her face. This is her birth story.
From the get go, because of my age when I fell pregnant with Willow, I was automatically categorised a high risk pregnancy. I was also gestational diabetic.
So red flags were flying everywhere even though I was very healthy, fit and maintained very low sugar during my pregnancy.
As the pregnancy progressed, it has become certain that I have placenta previa. The placenta was partially covering my cervix.
The umbilical tube also conveniently decided to reside in the cervix area too. To add more complications, I have a lot of amniotic fluid.
The doctors were scared that when I ‘rapture’, water will gush out leaving baby dry inside with the placenta and umbilical cord in it’s way. (Something like that).
I needed to be induced. Later pregnancies were meant to be easier but not in my case. It got more complicated with my 3rd child. But then also, I am a “geriatric pregnant person.”
I also insisted on natural birth when caesarean was probably the safest option. But caesarean would mean I am homebound. I have 2 other school-age kids. It’s crazy to not be allowed to walk and/or drive around.
So, the day has come and I was given the royal treatment at the public hospital. I swear, it was a lot better than my 2 private hospital birthing.
I was induced and ‘punctured’ for a lack of better word. Lo and behold, they were expecting a gush of water. Nada. Trickle.
Waiting and waiting until I am 10cm dilated. Pain was slowly radiating from I dont know where until I was totally consumed by it. I embodied pain and I was in complete agony. I remember howling in agony. The male assistant or trainee nurse/midwife looks at me helplessly. The pain quickly subsided I can’t remember how.
[ I was so amazed with how the nurse reacted. So professional and she was back the next day to check on me with a big smile on her face. How can she do it after such a stressful night. ]
I can’t precisely remember what happened. If it involved a jab on my left thigh. Or was that during Jack’s birth – were the nurse blatantly stabbed/jabbed me after literally just giving birth. I can’t recall details of my pregnancies. All the three kids’ births have just merged into one big birthing nightmare. 😂
When Willow finally arrived, I immediately noticed the birthmark on her face. I thought it was cute.
But the nurses were more concern about something else. Willow wasn’t breathing. In a flash, a doctor appeared. Willow was put in an apparatus ( I think) and someone was counting loudly. There was a slight concerned look on the nurses faces. Matt was panicking. I was hopeful. I went to all these ordeal.- she will be fine. Four or six counts and Willow was breathing. Yay! I was beaming at Matt – “I told you!”
While my concern was on Willow, a piece of the placenta remain stuck in my uterus. My focus was now back on me. At some stage, I was pushing/massaging my belly down to rid of it. They gave me Willow to breastfeed hence the placenta to detached. But the stubborn piece of uterus remains.
Emergency surgery for me! Willow stays in the arms of Matt until I get back.
While in surgery, I woke up briefly to tell them I am cold. One of the young female surgeon was actually my consulting pregnancy doctor. I felt relieved seeing a familiar face. I blurted out “everybody looks so young” and then drifted back to sleep. 😂
When I return from surgery, not a lot of the nurses know anything about birthmarks. It wasn’t very evident at birth, but the birthmark has become prominent hours later. One nurse thought it might be a bruise.
I knew it is a birthmark. I met a lot of people with birthmarks. No biggie. My husband though was very concerned about a lot of stuff. It’s his nature. But of course, he loves Willow so much. He was genuinely concerned about what it is and it’s impact on his daughter’s well-being.
Willow has a port wine stain birthmark. It is a vascular anomaly – genetic mutation – an over production of capillaries on parts of flesh.
Birthmarks are not uncommon. One out of 10 babies have a birthmark. Quoting from memory here. I will provide links of agencies below with facts and statistical data.
Portwine stain birthmarks are never the same for all affected. Willow needed an MRI to see if it is on her brain also. There are tiny specks of no concern that the brain people (neurologist) didn’t even want to see us to my disappointment.
Our consulting doctor at the time didn’t want to give me the MRI report just in case I started googling stuff. As of this day, I still have not sighted this report.
Willow also had countless eye doctor consultations. It was every 3 months in the beginning, then every 4 months, once a year and now none.
We are blessed that she is hitting her milestones and progressing well if not advanced in some areas.
She currently has had 10 laser surgeries which is taking a lot of toll on me than her. She continues to amaze me. She seems to bounce out off the surgery like a Phoenix out of the ashes. Literally.
We had one awake surgery to test Prima on her and it was hell. Four people were pinning her down so the surgeon can perform a test on her skin. I remember smelling burnt skin as they did it.
I am also the one that goes to the hospital with her during these surgeries. Obviously, it is nowhere near fun and is traumatising for me (and her). Watching her convulsing on my arms as I hold her while she inhales gas to put her to sleep.
Too many times she has woken up after the surgery distraught from the anaesthesia, the pain, the sore, from thirst and from hunger. She was inconsolable and I just hold her in my arms – singing songs, saying I love her so, offering food, etc.
It is also the reason why I breastfed her until 3 years old. Feeding comforts her and obviously my milk would have some healing powers as it is so designed by nature and by God.
The birthmark has considerably cleared up. She has my skin tone so it would easily blend with the skin. Makeup would help if she so chose to do so when she is older.
I am extremely happy with the clearance thus far. Technology has progressed and I cannot wait when she is older and she can use the latest laser (private clinics have them but not the children’s hospital), doesn’t need anaesthesia and she doesn’t have to do it too often.
I am extremely hopeful. While I had some slight concern, mainly perpetuated by my husband’s concerns – i had no fear and will not fear.
She was made to stand out and stand out she will. She will stand out because of her sweet smile, her loving and caring nature and her many talents. She is a joy to be with (and can be very bossy sassy). I am extremely proud of her. I can’t wait what the world has installed for her. I can’t wait what she has to offer the world.
Thank you for reading Willow’s Portwine Stain journey.
PS. More photos of Willow on my instagram account. Click here.
Resources and support
Vascular Birthmark Foundation
2 thoughts on “Willow Magdalene West”
Thank you for sharing Willow’s inspiring story. Your words both brought me to tears and gave me hope. My littlest one once had to be pinned down in the hospital for a procedure and it was gut wrenching and heartbreaking. Like you, I tried my best to console her, but still I felt so helpless in that moment. Thankfully she is doing well now. I’m happy to hear that Willow is thriving! You can totally see her radiating energy in that second photo! And she looks absolutely beautiful both photos. Much love being sent your way. ❤️❤️❤️
Wow! Amazing testimonial. You’re daughter being so brave! She’s beautiful. Pregnancy is beautiful and can be scary. I had almost lost my life giving birth to my son. Who knew anemia would play such a big role during child birth. So happy for our amazing doctors who are the true heroes. 😊 Thanks for sharing your story!