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Remember those old folk tales about changelings?
Those stories about changelings that stole away human babies, took their places, and then worked mischief on the unsuspecting parents. But sometimes the parents would realize what happened, and, of course, freak the heck out.
Imagine suddenly not recognizing your own child. Yikes!

I have been going through a little bit of this emotional freak out with our own personal changeling. I guess I never spent enough time thinking about the outcome of this new surgery, which ultimately, was more cosmetic then the last one. The other surgery did major reconstruction, no doubt about it, but it didn't change his face. I remember the plastic surgeon mentioning how some parents have a hard time coming to grips with the changes wrought in their babies physique, but I disregarded that statement at the time. I had other things to worry about! So now, I find myself remembering that and experiencing it on a whole new level...

I know, I know, all the changes are for the better, and I know, he will be so handsome, yadda, yadda, all this my brain KNOWS, yet the heart is often not logical. My brain knows that this little dude is my Leo, but my eyes don't recognize him. He acts the same, sounds the same, has the same fingers and toes, and everything in between, but his eyes.... His eyes will never be the same, and my heart grieves for that.

It is interesting, as a student of portraiture and anatomy, how the skin is just a superficial covering for the real shape underneath. Sometimes we get wrapped up in the surface visuals, and forget that what we are looking at, is actually many layers deep. Change that foundational structure, and it affects everything all the way out. Leo's forehead before was very flat and recessed. He didn't really have the proper bone structure over the eye. If we look at the human face like a topographical map, after the nose, of course, the brow ridge would be the next highest plane. This offers protection for the eye. In Leo's topo, after his nose, the tallest feature would have been his eyes. They popped so to speak. The skin draped around his eyes differently then in a normal baby, and so his eyes were always very noticeable, very exaggerated. And the expression thus created was one that was very open and inviting. From the very beginning, his eyes won over the coldest hearts. People would mention to me, that it was his eyes that drew them in, not realizing that it was the unique structure of his face and forehead that made his eyes so intense. There are hundreds of tiny muscles in the eyes that work together with the skin to create thousands of complex expressions. The eyes are truly, "the windows into the soul."

Last week's surgery, changed the structure in Leo's face in a very extensive and foundational way. They cut out his frontal bone by detaching it from all the suture lines, and then cutting up and behind his eyes into the eye socket itself. Then they took the bones out, reshaped them, and put them back in with dissolvable plates and screws. The skin they pulled back up over his bones and adjusted it as needed before they stitched him all back up using the old ear to ear incision. (Sorry if this is a bit graphic..) Anyway, the point is, that the work they did, changed little man's foundation in a very big way.

Obviously, he still has some major swelling. The team said that it would take a week or more for that to go away, and since they don't expect that same drastic fluid collection to happen as last time. Everything with this surgery has been straightforward and normal, everything that is, except my being unable to deal with the "results!" Don't get me wrong, I don't "dislike," what they have done, because I know that it was necessary, and that in the long run, he will look better and more normal. It's just that, before last week, he was normal. To us. He wasn't just normal, he was himself. And now, well, what made him, so uniquely him, has been changed. He has become a changeling. I can't argue with that. But perhaps what I can argue with or hang my hopes on, is that there is a layer deeper then bone. That even when bone is changed causing everything above it to change, that below the bone, there lies the essence; the soul of him, which can never be changed. Don't worry bubba, we will get used to the new you!

Little lion at a couple weeks old.

half a year old.

after 2011 cranial vault reconstruction surgery

Now at 7 days Post Op.

The swelling still left is giving him that crease on his nose. You can see a pocket of swelling bulging out a little on his temples..


  1. He looks just like...Leo!=-)

  2. Your reaction is completely understandable! The change around his eyes is of course exaggerated by the swelling, which makes it seem even more of a drastic change. But the swelling will recede and *your* eyes will adjust to the "new normal"! :)

    P.S. boy do I want to pinch those cheeks! (Why do we have that weird impulse?)

  3. *Just* as handsome but now in a slightly different way.
    Please give him a gentle hug from us across the water in the UK !

  4. The windows of the soul - and the soul is the same little roaring lion. Praying for you all as you marvel at the transformation.

  5. "The world is like this hazel nut. God made it, God loveth it, and God keepeth it" ~~julian of Norwich
    "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of this shall be well." also from Julian of Norwich

    and I BELIEVE it. Claire

  6. Still beautiful though because the colour won't change. And he's getting to be handsome twice over which is not something many people get so keep posting the photos for his doting fan club!
    kisses to Leo.


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