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Oli did really well with his hearing aids. We started slowly as to not overwhelm him. Of course it was a HUGE adjustment for him to go from not being able to hear much, to all of a sudden having access to sound. In the mornings especially, Daniel and I would put on his hearing aids and then switch them on at the same time. There is a slight delay and then, when he could hear, those blue eyes opened so wide and he would get a big smile on his face. 
We had made the big decision to put our immigration on hold. IF we decided to have Oli implanted with cochlear implants, we still had medical insurance in South Africa. We did bi-weekly online speech therapy sessions with Jenni from the CHAT Centre and at the same time started exposing Oli to some baby sign.
Baby sign was something that I decided I wanted to do with my baby when I was pregnant. Oli was only four months old but we started with the signs for more and milk and by the time he was six months he had his version of it. 
On March 10th 2020, we went to The Carel du Toit for a parent support group meeting. We were both very nervous purely because of the unknown. We had no idea what to expect. I think we walked away from there feeling it was exactly what we needed. We listened to parents tell stories of their kids that were older and already through the cochlear implant process. We also listened to other parents who were in a very similar part of the journey as we were; the initial diagnosis and deciding if cochlear implants was the route we wanted to take.
There was a mom there, Mia, who I had previously chatted to on the phone. Ironically, both her daughter, Charli and Oli had the same due date but Charli arrived two weeks before her due date and Oli two weeks after his due date. Charli was diagnosed with bilateral profound hearing loss. The two of us set out, reaching out to audiology and cochlear implants units in the USA on their opinions regarding early implantation and the three different cochlear implant brands. We wanted to make an as informed of a decision as possible. 
Daniel and I had chatted about the way forward and interestingly the decision to implant or not was not the most difficult for us but rather which brand to go with. This was after all a decision that would impact him for the rest of his life. We knew that we had time to make the decision as cochlear implantation was only considered at 8 or 9 months if a child is a candidate in South Africa, we had plenty of time, or did we? 
Late March 2020, we went into a hard lockdown! What did this mean in South Africa? We were pretty much confined to our houses and could only leave to get food and for medical appointments or of course if you worked as essential workers. 
With the unknowingness of COVID and what it entailed and what the hospitals would look like in September when Oli would be 8 or 9 months old. Oli’s team decided that paediatric cochlear implantation would be streamlined. We no longer had time to make a decision. I was completely overwhelmed, anyone who knows me, knows that I can be a bit indecisive at times. My thoughts would rush from ‘this is great, early implantation is great”, to “he is so small, can his body handle the surgery”, to “what happens if we don’t”?
Before any decision could be made, we had to determine if Oli was a candidate.
We waited until he was six months old, in fact the day before, on May 8th, 2020, we went to Panorama Hospital to have his sedated ABR, CAT-scan and MRI. 
Tune in next week as I share about the day of testing in To Implant or Not Part 2 of 2.