In Transit

One of the most difficult aspects so far of parenting a child with hearing loss, is figuring out how to get her on schedule, when one’s schedule is different every day. As I write this, Sonya is trying to fall asleep in her crib, but I know I will need to wake her in just 30 minutes so that we can get out the door in time for speech therapy downtown.

Three days a week I shlep Sonya to the Center for Hearing and Communication an hour commute each way. One day a week we have an in-home therapist. In New York City, such a commute is no easy feat. Getting out the door with a baby is always complicated. Add hailing a cab or Uber; maneuvering NYC traffic from the Upper West Side to Financial District within an hour; unloading the car seat; attaching the stroller; wheeling Sonya into Gregory’s Coffee (my vice!) and finally opening the extremely heavy bronze doors of 50 Broadway…it can be a bit much at times.

On good days, Sonya will take the hour ride as an opportunity to nap – leaving her refreshed for her speech therapy session. Other days, she needs to be entertained. I have tried books, toys but of course – I now just give her my iPhone. She watches Baby Einstein, HBO Classical Baby and Netflix story books. She also loves playing Peek-a-Boo Farm, Peek-A-Boo Wild, Peek-A-Boo Trick or Treat and Peek-a-Boo Fridge. I can almost see other parents cringe as they read this, but for us – the videos just help. She is interested and has even learned new words.

And thankfully, New Yorkers have also been extremely helpful. It’s not advertised as a trait amongst this population, but it is true. Someone always helps me. As I struggle to open the door, a passerby inevitably jumps out of his or her way to assist. The other morning, while trying to navigate across Broadway to get into an Uber, a kind man literally stopped traffic to help Sonya and I cross the street.

Of course, it could be worse. We are extremely lucky that the Deaf Infant Program at the Center for Hearing and Communication covers the bulk of our transportation costs, and these costs add up fast. A trip to the CHC and back to our apartment on the UWS can cost between  $60 – $120 per day, depending on traffic – as much as $360 per week! New York State’s Early Intervention Program used to cover transportation, but that is no longer the case as of recently. This means that  parents of children who have hearing loss, but who were not born deaf as was the case with Sonya, are not covered for transport!

It’s something I think about every day on our way to therapy. I think about it when I cancel play dates because Sonya is getting a rare nap at home and not in the car and I don’t want to disturb her. And I think about it again today as I get ready to wake up my sleeping baby in order to make it to CHC on time.

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