Caroline - Now

My name is Caroline, I am 20 years old, from Austria Vienna and was born with a giant heart shaped CMN on my lower back. I never met someone with a CMN and thought for a long time that I am the only one (until I discovered the thing called internet), until some years ago I didn´t even saw a photo of someone who has such a big birthmark. My grandma told me that when I was born the doctors first didn´t know what I have, my parents were shocked and cried. We had to go to another hospital and there was a doctor who wanted to do a dermabrasion surgery. It was uncertain whether I was going to survive the surgery or not, but my parents decided to go ahead with it. I was 21 days old.

Afterwards it was completely gone it came back lighter and I have some scars. Sadly, the heart shape is gone as well, maybe with much imagination you could say it is a heart upside down. But I really love the thought of having a big heart on my back when I was born. I found this photo some weeks ago and since then I am completely in love with it. Who else can say that the very born and had a big heart on their body? I don´t think that there are more than a couple of people.

I cannot remember recognizing that I was different when I was little. The first time I remember being impacted by having CMN was in Primary School when we went swimming. I always wore swimsuits and only a tiny little bit wasn´t covered, some kids asked me what I had on my back, and my answer was always “Oh, it´s just my birthmark,” like it was the most normal thing in the world! As I grew up, my family were concerned about what others thought and how well I could handle it. These concerns transferred onto me and at the age of 11 I started wishing to get more surgery done. I remember a conversation I had with my dad, we were sitting in the sun with some pringles (the red one of course!) and we both dreamed about the time when I am 16 and could do the surgery. Spoiler: I never did it because firstly, I was too young and secondly, I gained confidence and am now 99.9% of the time very confident!

Caroline's Story
Caroline - Before Surgery
Caroline's Story
Caroline - After Surgery

The hardest time for me was when I was 14-16 years old, because of the sun I was never allowed to wear a bikini, so until the age of 14 I had only worn swimsuits and I totally hated those! When I was allowed to wear a bikini at the beach, I ran to a clothing store right away and bought one. I still own my very first bikini, I still love it and still wear it, surprisingly it still fits! Unfortunately the color isn´t as bright after 6 years of wearing it.

I wrote in my diary about the time I first wore a bikini and showed my CMN “to the world;”

July 6th, 2015 (I was exactly 14 years and 1 month old)
“Some days ago (Wednesday) I wore a bikini for the first time. It is a great feeling. Until now I wore a bikini only twice. Oh, and I made ice cream on my own.”

As you can read, I enjoyed it, I wrote nothing negatively, however I do remember times when I was more insecure, especially between 14 and 16 years. On these days, when I woke up and was sad or something, I didn´t feel well and I would actively be looking around me to see if anybody was looking at me. Of course, I realized people WERE looking at me… but now I know that people are looking at everyone…not only me and my birthmark!

Once, we were at a beach in Italy and I was attending a windsurf school, my dad took a photo of me and in the photograph, you can see two guys looking at my back (at least I supposed they were?) Meanwhile, I am thinking they were just looking at me or just randomly in my direction. I have this photo on my mobile phone and every time I felt bad about my CMN (which wasn´t often, maybe twice a month, in spring more, in winter less) I looked at this photo for a very long time and got sad.

Today, I am very confident with my CMN. I don´t mind what people think. But I do care about close friends. Some knew about it before they saw my birthmark, some didn´t. Some asked me politely to tell them what was on my back, others didn´t care and it was never a topic. Currently, I am at university and have met new people and made new friends, I talked to one of them about my CMN recently and she couldn´t have reacted better! They said, “Now you are even more a special person to me than you were before.” It is heartwarming for me how kindly people are reacting.

Most days I don´t think about my CMN, I totally forget it, it doesn´t matter to me. And if I think about it or look at it, I remember it, check if it looks normal and that´s it! When I see a girl´s back without CMN, on Instagram for example, I feel like something is missing… and sometimes it takes me some time to realize what is strange on the picture. Then, I feel like they are different instead of me!