9.05.2012

ears.

A few days after A&R were born, I remember sitting in the NICU family room talking to two other moms who had also just delivered preemies.  I was so naive.  Never even heard of Hydrocephalus, didn't think twice about CP, never imagined what lied ahead.  I clearly remember saying to these women, "I just hope that they aren't deaf or blind.  I just want them to hear and see me."

Fast forward to Aiden's discharge.  His neo casually passes me by and says, "Aiden failed his newborn hearing screen."  My world shattered for the millionth time.   We were told to follow up with the hearing clinic in 6 weeks.  Deep down I knew what this meant, given his history, but I convinced myself that it was a fluke.  Many newborns fail their first hearing screen. 

When we arrived at the hearing clinic, Aiden was alseep.  They attached electrodes to his head and inserted little headphones into his tiny ears.  After about an hour of testing, the audiologist went over the results and confirmed what I feared the most.  A follow up visit to the ear, nose & throat doctor (ENT) gave us some more information.  Aiden was diagnosed with mild to moderate, mixed hearing loss in both ears.  The kicker?  We haven't a clue what caused it.  Could be his extreme premaurity, could be the hydrocephalus, could be his cleft palate.  Or, it could be genetic.  Doubtful, but could be.  We were told to follow up with a geneticist, but we haven't done so yet.  It's not like it will change anything if we find out that it is, in fact, genetic.

Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.  Conductive means that the anatomy of his ears doesn't allow for proper hearing and sensorineural means that the nerves responsible for his hearing are damaged.  Mild to moderate means that he can still hear, but he will need hearing aids.

Fast forward to a few months ago:  We finally got his hearing aids approved by the state, and we went for a fitting.  So excited because his speech was already delayed and we were anxious to get him babbling like his brother.  Right before the fitting, I mentioned to the audiologist that I think his hearing improved, so she decided to test him again.

Much to our surprise, Aiden presented with improved hearing.  The little bugger scored at almost normal hearing levels for most sounds.  We were told to go back in a month for another hearing test just to keep track of things.  Unfortunately, the follow up test showed that his hearing did not improve, and the last test was unreliable.  He scored somewhere between his last two tests.  At this point we were just frustrated, because now we would have to wait another month for his hearing aids to be ordered.  That is two months he lost.  Which means a further delay in his speech.

Throughout this whole ordeal, a lot of feelings went through my head.  I thought a lot about how he may feel different because he has to wear hearing aids.  About how kids can be cruel and instead of trying to understand, they may make fun of him.  As a parent you want your kid to have an easy life.  To make friends and be happy.  For a little while I thought this small bump in the road may prevent him from having that.  But in all honesty, it won't.  He'll be just fine.  He has the same fire in him that Seamus has, a quality that I'm relieved he got from his father.  How fitting, since the name Aiden means "little fire".  He's strong and he's witty, and he will protect himself.  I often think about those early days after their birth, and I get a little embarrassed about fearing for his ears.  If only I knew then, what I know now.  But that is such a cliche, so I"ll just stop right here.

This morning, Aiden got his hearing aids.  We recorded them being turned on.  And I am completely speechless.  Welcome to the world my child.  You now have the privilege to experience what everyone else takes for granted:  leaves rustling, rain falling, birds chirping, and so much more.  I'm sorry you missed out on it for oh so long.


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