Jessica's story

Jessica was born three weeks premature on the 8th August 2009. Despite being early she weighed 7.4lbs and had no problems. 

When Jessica was two weeks old a small pea like lump appeared near her left ear/cheek. My midwife told me to keep an eye on it and take her to the GP if I was concerned, during the week the lump grew and the GP diagnosed a strawberry birthmark. 

By the time Jessica was five weeks old the lump was the size of a golf ball, causing her to choke and struggle when feeding. In the following weeks it grew so much that the skin cracked, ulcerated and started to bleed. The lump pulsated and was very hot to touch. We were referred to a specialist in Leeds and Jessica was started on Propranolol (at approx. 16 weeks).

She had an MRI scan which showed that the birthmark was in the parotid gland and was NOT causing her problems with swallowing and choking. (Further tests proved that reflux caused these problems that she would later grow out of)

The Propranolol worked dramatically starting to see a difference within days, my daughter spent most of the time crying before the Propranolol as I think that the birthmark hurt her, once the birthmark was shrinking she became a happier baby. The birthmark also blocked her ear and since it's gone down her hearing is much better. 

My baby was a pretty little thing with a mass of hair that stood up on end, its surprising but when people saw her lump not many asked what was wrong.... most asked what she had done! Over the last few years I tried at regular intervals to stop the propranolol but had dramatic regrowth within a month, so ended up starting her on it again. Luckily she had no adverse effects from the medicine. 

Jessica is now three she has been off the Propranolol for six weeks and so far there has been no regrowth. We are waiting to see the specialist when she is 3 and a half. To look at her unless you knew she had a birthmark you wouldn't notice, there is some baggy skin near her ear but that is mostly covered with her hair. 

I spent many a night laid awake worrying about my baby and not knowing what the future held, if I had been able to read stories such as these I would have felt very reassured and not quite so alone.