Discovery – The start of our journey

I was a beyond happy mother who immediately bonded with my baby. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I would do anything and everything for her. Postpartum depression (PPD) was a very real fear of mine, having struggled with depression and anxiety for the previous years and throughout the pregnancy. Everyone talks about it and it is so common (1 in 7); I was lucky enough to not have been affected…yet the day after I returned home I immediately felt that something was wrong – not with me, but with my child.

We had a home visit from public health, something that is standard in our province, and the nurse was… just okay. Honestly she gave me some really horrible advice about some things that I really wish weren’t said to me. One thing that did happen however was that I was sitting in our chair holding my daughter and our dog – a very large and loud German Shepard x Rottie x Malamute – barked several inches from her face. She continued to sleep soundly through. I questioned the nurse on this, saying that I didn’t think that was a normal response – to which she told me that my baby had heard the dog barking for the last nine 9 months so she was just use to sleeping through that sound. Even at the time I felt unsure, but I knew as a new mom I would be very sensitive to things so if no one else was worried, then I wouldn’t be either. I wouldn’t let my anxiety control me as a parent.

At three weeks of age, we traveled to visit my husband’s sister and enjoyed an amazing weekend at her wedding. At the reception, Jason and I were planning on leaving at the dance portion of the night – how could a baby sleep through night club volumes? Yet, she did. The other guests commented on how lucky we were to have such an amazing sleeper and relaxed newborn.  After an hour or so at the dance, we decided it was time to go back to our room – we were still new parents after all. On our way our a guest let off an air horn several feet from us. I flinched and jumped at the unexpected sound, yet, our daughter still slept through.

It was at that time I allowed my anxiety and suspicions to begin to surface. For the past 3 weeks I had been repressing this horrible feeling in my gut that my baby was ‘wrong’. I feared that it was PPD – I didn’t want to give up breastfeeding to go on medication, and I held an irrational notion that if I admitted I thought something was wrong with my daughter that someone would try to take her away from me… it was as if I would be the worst parent if I thought something was wrong with this perfect new human.

The night of the wedding a large thunderstorm came through. Hail. Thunder. She slept through; I cried knowing my daughter had hearing loss. There was something wrong with my baby.

Upon returning home we went to our family doctor, who agreed that her reaction to sound wasn’t appropriate – meaning non-existent – we were sent to an audiology test in the city. At this time, hearing screening only existed within the cities and us “rural folk” hadn’t yet been given the resources to do the tests.

At 6 weeks of age, the littlest cricket went to her first audiology exam.

She failed her test.

Saying that I cried at this appointment was an understatement. I bawled hysterically and at the end of the appointment stormed out of the room leaving the audio technician, husband and baby in the room. The technician continuously tried to insist that it could be ear wax or fluid causing a false result – or it could have been that she woke up and fed through the exam. I so wholeheartedly believed that my daughter was deaf that these suggestions for the test results made me livid.

I was angry. I was over tired. I was hormonal. I was scared.

Two weeks later we were back at the audiology clinic with an audiologist for a three hour test to determine the level of hearing loss. Our littlest cricket was a champion that afternoon and slept through the entire appointment (which is what you want, silence to measure the Brain Wave activity). The audiologist was gleeful (no, really – GLEEFUL) she was able to get such great data from our daughter.

The results were the same, our daughter is deaf – something appeared to be wrong with the cochlea. What could she hear? Nothing.  70db in on ear and higher (so a jet engine taking off) and the other ear couldn’t be tested as they don’t play loud enough sounds in newborns for her threshold. Jason and I sat in the chair holding hands and our baby girl. Scared of the unknown. Scared that at 2 months of age she already had a disability – and we were aware that it could only be just the beginning. We cried for her, we cried for us – and now that she is 4 months old we still do once in a while.

This is a visual graph showing our Cricket’s hearing loss. The right ear is marked by circles and arrows – showing that is how high it was tested, but without any feedback, so her hearing ability on that side is “worse” than what is indicated. The ‘x’ shows her left side, indicating that she has a severe-profound hearing loss. The “blue bubble” at the top is normal vocal range during a conversation. Not surprising anymore that we could vacuum around our sleeping baby.

I’ve been complimented by many (we have daily doctor appointments for the last two months – I mean MANY) health care workers that I was able to determine that my daughter had hearing loss so fast. How attentive I must be!

I hate hearing this.

Prior to her diagnosis everyone just brushed off her behavior as her being relaxed and calm, it was only due to some exact moments in time that we actually wondered. It isn’t that I’m more attentive, we are just lucky to have had those situations occur and the anxiety to push for a simple test. Additionally, our cricket can’t hear anything. Children with only moderate or severe hearing loss can still pick up some sounds here and there so could and would react to some of the situations we were in which is why most children weren’t determined to be deaf until later in life when their speech patterns didn’t evolve correctly, between 1.5 – 3 years of age. It was only in occasions where hearing loss was expected (other medical issues or family history) where it was really identified earlier. I’ll take credit for being an attentive mother – I am; but it isn’t the reason why her hearing loss was identified so quickly.

In our province, hearing testing has now been implemented in all hospitals (as of September 2018) – and as such we are leading the “new generation” of children with hearing loss in our area. Our daughter is currently (at the time of this post) the youngest at our hearing loss clinic.

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