My son is deaf. I will be honest, it took me a long time to be able to use that word. If people asked about Oli’s diagnosis I would always give them the specifics like, “he has severe to profound hearing loss in his right ear and profound hearing loss in his left.” Why was I so scared of this word? I truly feel it was the fear of the unknown. I had never met anyone that was deaf. I hated that I felt this way, but it’s so interesting as I have spoken to many mommies that have felt the same. It’s really a perception that I wish to change and the only way to do that is through awareness.
We had two weeks before our next set of appointments. So much happened in that time for all of us. Oli was sitting up on his own and he started eating solids and teething! I had to go in for a surgery due to complications from the c-section and Daniel had to go back up to Joburg to finish work. All while trying to process what was going on. I really beat myself up and constantly questioned if it was something that I did wrong? Did I eat something during the pregnancy, or not get enough of a specific vitamin or mineral? Was it all the bleeding that I had during the pregnancy? Was it the long birthing process? The NICU stay? The antibiotics given at birth?
What was it?
To this day we don’t know the cause of Oli’s hearing loss, but my need to know is also not there anymore. I now believe, feel and know that he is perfect the way that he is.
On the 18th and 19th of February, we were back in Julie’s office at the Hearing Institute and doing more ABR tests. These results would confirm the degree of hearing loss and assist with the programming of the hearing aids that Oli would receive on the 20th of February.
Oli’s hearing aid fitting was incredible. We were warned to not have any expectations as far as reactions that he may have. As a new parent going through this, I caution you to not google these reactions because of course Google only shows those picture perfect moments. We were lucky, Oli gave a, as Julie put it “a textbook reaction”. His eyes got big and he turned his head in the direction of our voices. The moment is almost too big to put into words. There were a lot of tears, happy, sad, overwhelmed, relieved tears.
During that week we also went to The Carel du Toit Centre for the first time. At our first meeting we had a social worker, two audiologists and an early interventionist/speech therapist present. It was very overwhelming to say the least. They introduced a little girl to us who had been ‘late’ implanted and it gave us hope that Oli would also use spoken language and have access to sound just like us. It was incredible to witness and gave us hope.
We also had our first session with Jenni, our early interventionist and speech therapist. What an absolutely angel. She was and still is way more than a speech therapist. That first meeting and really every meeting, she handled us with such care. She could see how lost and overwhelmed we were and she just guided us. She had us listen to the hearing aids, so that we had an idea what it sounded like for Oli. It was also where she introduced specific sounds to us, which later we came to know as the Ling sounds.
That incredibly exhausting week felt like an emotional rollercoaster ride. The reality of it all set in. We had more tests done, Oli’s diagnosis confirmed, got his hearing aids fitted and learnt how to use them, met his team and got an understanding of what our new normal would be. Just three weeks later, something happened to complicate things just a little bit more…Covid-19
Tune in next week for Part 1 of 2 of To Implant or Not.