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My reaction?? 

I am embarrassed to say, I screamed and cried,

I felt absolutely gutted, I knew he couldn’t hear. Everyone else’s reaction, “no man” I am sure its ok, it will be ok, it’s probably water in the ear canals. What I know now is that the one thing that was said that’s true is, “it will be ok”.  In fact, everything now is more than ok. But my hunch, to me, in that moment, felt like more than just a hunch. 

We got an emergency appointment with an ENT at Charles Barnard Hospital in Cape Town the next morning. She did some tests and looked in his ears. She confirmed fluid in his ears and to use  ear drops for two weeks and then to go and see an audiologist. She phoned the audiologist while we were in her rooms. She told the audiologist that the baby looks healthy and has a bit of fluid behind his ear drums. Then she repeated herself twice, using the same words, she said, baby does babble but is very loud, yes the baby does babble but he is very loud. My brain went hmmm….why repeat that when she just said it’s only fluid behind the ear drums. My hunch was still there. 

Two weeks went by and the time came for our audiology appointment. In those two weeks, anytime there was a noise, we would all look for a response from Oli. Of course we saw many, or at least what we thought were responses, but was he responding to sound? 

On the 4th of February, 2020 we drove from Hopefield to Belville where we would stay the night so that we could be at the Hearing Institute first thing the next morning.  Frickie, the audiologist, called us just as we arrived at the hotel and apologetically told us our appointment would need to be rescheduled due to load shedding (aka rolling black-outs). Daniel just explained to him that was impossible for us as we had just driven so far to be here.

Things worked out the way that they should. Frickie had us come to the Ear Institute that evening. It was just the four of us in the building, all the lights off except in the rooms that we were using. Oli had never been a great sleeper but that evening he slept so well. Which meant all the tests could be done. We first went into a room on the ground floor and had a test done to check that the eardrum was working well. Then another test to check the little hairs in the cochlear. Frickie was not very chatty but with cochlear hair test, he got even quieter, you could tell something was wrong. I was trying to calm my hunch. He then had us go upstairs and do a more in-depth test, which later we became to know well as, the ABR test. When walking into that upstairs room neither Daniel or I realised that we would walk out feeling something we didn’t even know how to begin processing. Oli lay in my lap and just slept while he had electrodes stuck on his head. The tests started and every now and again Frickie would turn around and look at Oli and smile at me. Every once in a while Oli would react with an eye flutter. Eventually, Frickie turned around in his chair, he put his hand on my arm and looked at both Daniel and I and he said, “I am sorry, it seems the loss is profound!” 

Many hearing parents will tell you that this news is devastating and the reason being because most of us don’t know anyone who is deaf or with hearing loss. More than 90% of all children born deaf or with significant hearing loss are born to hearing parents. As much as I was feeling devastated, I also felt an overwhelming feeling of “My hunch was right, I wasn’t crazy, there was something wrong with his hearing.” If I hadn’t trusted my hunch or mothers intuition, or ‘mom-gut’ we would not have had a diagnosis so early on.

Stay tuned to find out more about what happened next on our Oli pop’s Journey to hear through play.