My daughter Olive is the youngest of my 3 children. She was to be our last baby, and after two pregnancies resulting in pre-eclampsia, it was a surprisingly enjoyable pregnancy. On the scans, there were never any worries. She was a bouncing, perfect little bean, growing inside me. Due to two previous caesareans, Olive was born via elective caesarean. On April 3, 2012, Olive made a dramatic entrance when she crashed soon after birth – she stopped breathing, was blue, floppy and unresponsive and had to be resuscitated. Because the doctors had never seen the rare condition we would soon discover she had, they thought her tiny body was being attacked by tumours. We soon found out, once she was stable and in the special care unit, that Olive was born with the rare condition, Giant Congenital Melanocytic Nevus. Hers was located in the bathing trunk region – it covers a large portion of her back and thighs, and wraps around her front. She was born with 7 smaller ones over her body and since her birth until now (she is almost 2 at the time of this writing) has developed almost 100 small nevus called satellites.When Eddie and I first found out about Olive’s CMN, and had gotten over the initial shock that our baby was different from what we expected, we decided to be very open about it. We figured that we wanted to raise Olive to love her body and to be comfortable enough with it to not want to hide it. We hope to raise her just the same as our older daughter, in regards to body image and being proud of their bodies and respecting themselves. Eddie and I decided the best way to help Olive to do this was to be completely open with our friends and family about Olive and her CMN. So we showed all our visitors her back when she was a newborn. For the most part, everybody has been incredibly supportive and fallen in love with Olive almost as much as us! She is a charismatic and humourous wee girl who has very endearing qualities about her.Though a lot of people choose removal, and I completely respect that, for us we have chosen not to remove Olive’s nevus for a multitude of reasons. The main one being, that we feel she was born this way for a reason. We don’t feel it is our place to alter her body so dramatically through surgery for the sake of cosmetics. If she ever needs to consider removal for medical reasons, or she chooses to do so for her own cosmetic reasons, we will absolutely support her 100% - we just don’t feel it is our choice to make for her.In New Zealand, a lot of doctors have not even heard of CMN, let alone seen it, so there is not a lot of support here. It has been quite daunting and frustrating, and sometimes quite isolating to have to deal with, while trying to get the best care for my child. Nevus Australia and their members have been a wonderful support and I hope to meet a lot of them one day soon. We have been fortunate though, to not need extra medical care as yet for anything nevus related. She still requires a bit of care taken when picking her up or when she plays as sometimes her back can scrape and bleed very easily, where ‘normal’ skin wouldn’t. OIive has a 6 monthly check up with the dermatologist where they check her nevus for changes and check her development is on track for her age, but apart from that, my daughter is just the same as any other toddler her age.Our older children have been detrimental in our mission to give Olive as ‘normal’ an upbringing as possible. I am so proud of how accepting they are of their baby sister and how humbly protective they are of her (as opposed to fiercely protective Mama Bear here!). My 3 children have helped to teach us all how to be better people and my son (aged 6 at the time) summed it all up when shortly after Olive’s birth I asked him what he thought of her nevus; “It’s part of her, Mum. She is just a bit different. Just because someone is different doesn’t mean we have to tell them to be like us”.
By Kizzie Robertson (Olive’s Mum) Published 2014
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