Tuesday, February 26, 2013

About time for a little update...

I was shocked when I realized that H has had his hearing aids for less than 3 weeks now. It feels like it's been much longer. I'm happy to report that he is (fingers crossed, knock on wood) doing really great with them. He seems OK with letting us put them in (and we are getting much better at this), he rarely pulls them out, and he hasn't been showing any signs that they bother him even when he's in really noisy situations.

Before we got them, I had given myself a one month time frame before I assumed we could notice any real benefits. After his ear tubes were put in, this was the amount of time it took for us to say 'wow, what a difference'. I don't know if it was a coincidence, or all due to the hearing aids, but it seems as though within days of getting them H's language has started to take off. He has started saying two syllable words (da-ddy, do-ggy) and two word sentences (down please, open door)! He has started imitating us waaay more than before, and even said his name the other day, 'Hu-ley'. We were talking about apples and all of a sudden he pipes up 'a-pple'. It's amazing.

I sat down yesterday and wrote out the words he says routinely now. I think we're up to 20 if we count some very rough approximations like 'gah' for 'grapes'. 20 is the bare minimum number words an 18 month old should say, they should have more like 50 to 100, but seeing as he has more than doubled his words in the last couple weeks who knows where we'll be a couple weeks from now?

Right after getting his hearing aids, I spent some time at H's daycare as I wanted to show his teachers how to use them. His infant program has 12 kids, and almost all of them are within a month or two of each other. It was the first time I really noticed that H's language was starting to fall quite a bit behind the other kids, and it made me so sad. But seeing how much he has progressed over such a short time is really encouraging. We've got a lot of catching up to do - six months or more where he was missing so much of what was said - but I'm hopeful we'll get there.

His favourite toy at our rental in Palm Springs - everything ended up in those pots!

Friday, February 08, 2013

A request

You may have picked up from my last post that I have been struggling a bit now that H's hearing aids have gone from 'someday in the future' to a reality. Partly it was just the unknown of it all. All our routines were going to need to adjusted to make way for this new life of a toddler with hearing aids. How was he going to react to them? How much of a hastle would they be? We had reached a comfortable holding place and finally having hearing aids was going to change that.

But there was something else there too. With hearing aids on, I could no longer pretend to strangers on the street. Everyone would be able to see that he wasn't like 'typical' kids. It surprised me that this was my reaction, since I didn't think I really cared. After all, I'm the mom who opted for zebra striped hearing aids rather than beige or blond. I'm the mom who always said it's better for people see the hearing aids so that no one thinks H is just ignoring them (even if he maybe is ignoring them). So where did all this come from?

Coincidentally, or not coincidentally depending on your beliefs, I have been reading Kelle Hampton's book Bloom, about the first year with her daughter with Down Syndrom. I read Kelle's blog, her daughter is now almost 3 and their family is much more about living life rather than grief or disability. But to go back to those first few weeks after her daughter's birth has been really moving. I know hearing loss does not equal Down Syndrom, not at all. But as I was reading about her reluctance to take her new daughter out into the world, it hit me what was bothering me so much.

I'm not afraid that people will see H's hearing aids, I’m afraid they will only see his hearing aids. H loves to make new friends, and is forever charming strangers into playing games of peek-a-boo, waving and shaking hands, and making them laugh. Will people stop smiling at him now? Or will their smiles be full of pity? Will they stop trying to talk to him? Will they freeze when they realize the boy they thought was normal has tubes sticking into his ears?

I’m not worried about other kids (not yet at least). They might run up, point at his ears and ask 'what's that?'. No, it's the parents who might rush up, tell their kid it's rude to point, and then quickly move them away from the little boy who is different. Are these people going to teach my son that he's different, and being different is bad?

Of course none of this has happened yet, and I'm continually surprised by the kindness of strangers so maybe I will be surprised again. And goodness knows I've stared at every kid with hearing aids for the past few months and it's only because I've been trying to figure out a non-creepy way of saying 'Hi, how do you like those things? My little boy is getting them soon'.

But if you should see a slightly frazzled looking mom out and about with a blond boy with zebra hearing aids, could you do me a favour? He can hear you just fine, he would love to be your friend. Please come say hi and while you're here, care for a game of peek-a-boo?