My oldest son is the inspiration for this blog, he started me, he opened my eyes to so many things. I was 21 when my life began; that’s when Numero Uno was born. He was born with a mild hearing loss, a hearing loss that the hospital detected not even 24 hours after he was born, a hearing loss that would change my perspective on life.
When you become a first-time mom, nothing and no one is going to tell you that your precious baby has anything “wrong” with them. I was young. A young first-time mom. Yes, I had done and seen a lot in those 21 years but nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to be faced with. Here he was, a squishy little baby boy who I had carried for what felt like a year, and I finally got to meet him! The joy that comes with your first child is something you can’t verbalize. That joy was suddenly taken away and replaced with fear and what-if’s as soon as that nurse came in to take him for testing. In the hospital when you give birth, they want you to stay with baby as much as possible, you know, for the mother/baby bonding time. They only take baby from you when they do all of their usual newborn tests and screens. He was on his way to have the hearing screen and whatever other tests they do at that time. Shortly after, a nurse came back into my postpartum room to tell me that they found some inconsistencies in his heart. They needed to do a full EKG, and he wouldn’t be released until a cardiologist looked over the results. That threw me into panic mode, but in the end, everything was fine. Phew! Then came his hearing screen results. He failed. They performed the screen multiple times and told me that it was likely just amniotic fluid left in his ears. That wasn’t the case. He needed to be seen at a different hospital, one that could do more extensive hearing screens and tests. And I did just that. I made an appointment with an audiologist when he was only a few weeks old. He would have to be asleep for the test or they would have to sedate him. Here I was again, more fear.
The audiologist stuck little electrode things all over him, his chest, his head, and behind his ears. I wish I would have taken photos, but back then, I had a Motorola Razor or something along those lines, nothing that was any good at taking photos. The audiologist started the testing, which I had no idea what it was called and again, being a young first-time mom, I didn’t ask any questions. If I had known the things I know now, that audiologist would have been running from the room. They sent sounds into his ears, then waited for his brain response. Bottom line, his audiogram showed that he had a mild hearing loss. A mild hearing loss? What the hell was that? What does that even mean? Well, there’s a very broad explanation. Each case is different, but basically, he wasn’t able to hear deep, low sounds. The audiologist’s example was the sound of leaves rustling in the wind on a fall day. My son wouldn’t be able to hear that clearly or at all without the help of hearing aids. Say what? My 4-week-old baby was going to need hearing aids! I was devastated. Why did this happen? Was I not taking enough Folic Acid during my pregnancy? Was it all those Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and Queso that I ate during my pregnancy? What was it? Nobody knows! It took me years to come to terms with it–I actually ignored his hearing loss for a while. My baby was perfect, he could hear just fine, there was nothing “wrong” with him. Well, he was fitted with his first pair of aids when he was about 3 months old. I tried to get him to wear them and keep them in but I wasn’t stern. The tiny pair of aids sat in a special cup for about 2 years. It wasn’t until his step-mom sent me a link regarding his hearing loss and the use of hearing aides. Yes, his step-mom. His dad has always been an active part of his life, along with his step-mom and her family. She set up a speech therapy appointment to be sure that he was speaking as an average 2-year-old without hearing loss would be speaking. Again, I had my reservations and was taken aback a bit at first by all of this, but in the end, I am extremely grateful and thankful for her taking the initiative.
The speech therapist made it clear that Numero Uno needed to be wearing his aids as much as possible. Think about it, he’s learning to talk. How is he going to learn how to speak correctly if he isn’t able to fully hear what is being said to him? At the time, I wasn’t thinking that way, I was clouded by something being “wrong” with my son. My own unawareness got in the way of my son’s well being. It was a hard pill to swallow, being able to admit that, being able to talk about it with others. I was ashamed. Ashamed that my son had a mild hearing loss and should have been wearing hearing aids. Trust me, I know now how absolutely selfish of me that was.
We went to speech therapy every week for a few months until the therapist told us that he was good to go. He was up to his chronological speaking age. He was surprisingly up-to-date even in the beginning of his speech therapy. I was lucky. I was very lucky that my ignorance did not hold him back. His resilience really showed through during this time. The kid couldn’t fully hear, yet here he was, smart as a whip. He was self-taught, listening and watching our mouth movement so he could speak correctly. A 2-year-old kid did that. Mind blown!
When I realized what could have happened due to my own ignorance, I made it my mission to educate myself and to share our journey through hearing loss. Of course, not just limited to hearing loss but to share my story with others so they can avoid the mistakes I made. I was clouded. Clouded by the stigma of society’s definition of perfection. Nobody is perfect and it took me a long time to figure that out. Even after being told that nobody was perfect, I had to find out for myself. My son taught me that without even trying. This innocent little boy had such an extreme impact on me.
He is now 9 and the most active kid EVER. He has been on the ice playing hockey since he was 3, he’s played baseball for just as long, he’s been out on the soccer field for a few seasons, he’s dabbled in MMA training, and he now tells me he wants to play Lacrosse. Ay Dios mio! Along with him being a huge athlete, he has also been in the top of his class every year.
Nothing was ever “wrong” with my son. Nothing. Ever! I know that now, and I also know that nothing is ever “wrong” with anyone. This was simply an obstacle that he and I learned and conquered together.
One thought on “Do you hear me now?”
Beautifully written love you Cousin