My Daughter the Cochlear Cyborg….?

Sonya was recently referred to as a “cute little cyborg.” Yan, who considers Star Trek: The Next Generation “a documentary,” absolutely welcomed the moniker. And why not…. I mean, the fact is, she is a cyborg. According to Oxford, because of her cochlear implants, Sonya’s abilities “are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body.”

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And I can see why people who wear cochlear implants may embrace the term cyborg to identify themselves. When Sonya was diagnosed with hearing loss, my brother sent me an article written by Michael Chorost, who proudly refers to himself as a “Cochlear Cyborg.” Born with profound hearing loss that grew worse over time, Michael chronicled his relentless pursuit to make himself hear a rendition of the famous musical piece “Bolero” by Ravel, through cochlear implant mappings and upgrades. The last sentence of his article was particularly moving to me: “My hearing is no longer limited by the physical circumstances of my body,” he writes. “While my friends’ ears will inevitably decline with age, mine will only get better.”

But the term cyborg still bothers me. I don’t want Sonya’s identity to be defined by the fact that she wears cochlear implants. It was one of my greatest fears when I learned she was deaf — that she wouldn’t feel part of our society. And it’s why Yan and I chose to pursue auditory/verbal therapy for Sonya, rather than sign language.

While it seemed like an obvious goal for us that we would want Sonya to learn to listen and speak and be part of our society, interestingly, a number of other parents we have met through speech therapy are heading in a different direction for their children. One mom I met, who now has a two-year-old with cochlear implants, refers to her child as “a deaf person who can hear.” After much work (and becoming immersed in ASL herself) her child is now fluent in English, American Sign Language as well as a couple other languages (clearly a very intelligent child!)

I certainly respect and see the wisdom behind such a decision. At night, when Sonya is not wearing her implants, I often wonder how we will communicate with her when she is older – when she has a nightmare or needs something. Sign language would certainly be useful in such a situation.

But I still believe we should focus on English first – as learning sign might interfere with Sonya’s ability to learn oral language (as children who are deaf may rely on sign if it is a tool at their disposal, as it is easier for them).

Ultimately, Sonya will be the one to determine how she chooses to identify herself – be it cyborg or whatever. And I suppose I just have to accept this. Sonya was born deaf. She may in fact in the future decide to learn ASL and join the deaf community. But for the time being, while I have some sway, I will do everything in my power to ensure that she has the opportunities available to her in our society first and foremost.

Strengthening the Weakest Link

New York City offers excellent care for children with hearing loss. Unlike many families, we were notified of the possibility of hearing loss well before Sonya was even born, and since that time have been able to proactively deal with it. We are surrounded by the finest surgeons, audiologists and speech therapists. Yet, this will not guarantee that Sonya will be successful in acquiring language. While a percentage of Sonya’s success will be based on the care she receives at the Center for Hearing and Communication and the Cochlear Implant Center, the most important factor determining how Sonya fares will be dependent on the work we do at home.

It’s a frustrating position to be in, as I am the least educated/skilled person in this arena, and yet, the greatest weight is placed on me — especially since Yan works and I am at home. And recently, despite the hours I have already put into helping Sonya develop speech at home, I have felt like I may be the weakest link when it comes to her ability to acquire language.

While Sonya has made leaps in terms of showing us that she hears all types of sounds, she is producing many of the same sounds she did prior to our trip to Italy. Still, I feel thankful and proud that she has come as far as she has. In the video below, Sonya responds to us whispering her name!

So for the time being, I am working to educate myself on ways to help Sonya acquire speech. The following list are things we are doing already on a regular basis. Also below is a list of books I am currently reading – which I thought might interest other parents in our situation. Look out for my upcoming post on how we are applying the suggestions in these books as well.

Ways to Promote Speech

1. Give opportunities for Sonya to ask for what she wants. If a favorite toy is out of reach, wait for her to vocalize that she wants that toy before reaching for it and handing it to her.

2. Imitate the sounds and facial expressions she makes.

3. Encourage her to use different vowels and speech sounds by linking sounds to toys and being consistent. For example, when we play with an airplane, we make the sound “aaaa” and when we play with a car, we make the sound “beep beep.” Eventually, Sonya will (hopefully) associate these toys with that sound.

4. Encourage Sonya to stop and listen to environmental sounds. When the phone rings, doorbell chimes or tea kettle whistles, we stop what we are doing and point to our ears. Encouraging Sonya to stop and listen to the sound – and then identify what the sound is we are hearing.

5. Narrate what is happening. Use simple language to describe the events as they are happening throughout the day. This is especially tough for me. Naturally I am an introvert – but I am forcing myself to become a chatty person.

6. Sing. We sing all day long. I try to add gestures to songs to keep it interesting/entertaining.

7. Read Baby Books. I have been told to choose books that have large pictures and are not too detailed. Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See – is a favorite right now. I ask lots of questions on each page, such as “what is this?” “where are his eyes?” “Where is his nose.” Sonya loves to read and typically wants to do so at least a few times a day. She doesn’t always make it through a book, however – and I don’t force it.

Books I am Reading:

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We Can Hear and Speak: The Power of Auditory-Verbal Communication for Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

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Learning to Listen: A Book by Mothers for Mothers of Hearing-Impaired Children

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The New Language of Toys: Teaching Communication Skills to Children with Special Needs, a Guide for Parents and Teachers. This book presents toys and accompanying toy dialogues to use with children – teaching parents how to play purposefully with their child.

Have Baby (with CIs) Must Travel (with CIs)

When I notified friends and family that we were planning a trip to the Amalfi Coast this summer, several people voiced their concerns. “A vacation is not a vacation with a baby – it’s just a trip,” one friend told me. “You aren’t going to sleep because the baby won’t get used to the time difference. Above all – you won’t be able to enjoy your vacation!” Another friend told me that we should not go this year because of Sonya’s surgery. “She could get an ear infection,” she warned “And then you would be in a foreign country with a foreign hospital and foreign doctors!” These concerns had an impact on me. Rather than feel excited about our trip, I increasingly felt anxious.

Prior to leaving, I consulted with our team of speech therapists, audiologists and surgeons. The overall consensus was that we should ABSOLUTELY travel with Sonya. “You need to take time for yourselves and enjoy being a family,” our EI service coordinator wisely told me.

For two and-a-half weeks, we toured Amalfi, Capri and Positano, Italy. It was not an easy trip (especially given that most of these towns were not stroller friendly) – however – it was one of the BEST trips I have ever been on and I know I will cherish the memories we made for the rest of my life.  That said, traveling with a baby is difficult. Traveling with a baby who has cochlear implants (I think) is even more challenging – so here is a list of tips that I hope others in our situation will find helpful!

Forget the stroller – bring a baby carrier instead: Note – this tip is particular to the Southern coast of Italy where the streets are typically paved with cobblestone and cities are built into the hills with hundreds of stairs. The stroller was most helpful in the airport – but aside from that time, we didn’t really need it at all and it collected dust in our hotel room. We used the Ergo Original Baby Carrier – which was comfortable and very easy to use.

We also decided NOT to bring a baby backpack. Lots of people recommended we do so – and we even borrowed one from a friend before our trip. We finally decided against it since we were bringing so much stuff already. We didn’t miss it.

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Enjoying the view in Positano, Italy

Get on a schedule as soon as you can (but be flexible): This proved critical for acclimating to the time change. Our schedule revolved around three nap times (one mid morning, one early afternoon and one before dinner). We also kept Sonya from sleeping more than two hours per nap, to help her get used to the time change. It only took two days for her to adjust.

Of course it wasn’t possible to be strict about the schedule either. A few nights, we kept Sonya out  so that we could enjoy dinner with family. It made me nervous to do this, but we allowed her to sleep in the next day – and I didn’t notice much of an issue in terms of her happiness when we did this occasionally.

Bring extra batteries (battery powered and rechargeable) for CIs: We brought two extra pairs of CI batteries that were rechargeable and two extra pair of batteries that were battery operated, to ensure that we wouldn’t need to disrupt Sonya’s ability to hear. I suggest packing batteries in at least two different containers just in case one gets lost.

Bring the waterproof kit/waterproof box for processors/coils: Every day we spent several hours at the pool or beach or on a boat. We (dumbly) decided not to bring the waterproof kit. I wish we had. That said, It is also a good idea to bring the waterproof storage box regardless just in case.

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Embrace cultural differences: Italians are the warmest people. They also LOVE babies. It seemed like every Italian we passed would look at Sonya and call out “bellissimo!” “principessa!”  or “bombola!” Many would go so far as to pinch her cheeks or hold her hand. At first I grimaced when this happened. But, eventually just accepted the fact that strangers were touching Sonya – and it was okay. Once I embraced this difference, I realized how lovely the Italian culture really is. So warm and affectionate! We Americans can be so cold sometimes…

Sonya and Sergio - a Porter at the hotel we stayed at in Amalfi
Sonya and Sergio – a Porter at the hotel we stayed at in Amalfi

Integrate speech therapy games into your vacation: One game that worked especially well was the “go go” game. In the pool, I would hold Sonya while Yan was a few yards away. Yan would repeat Sonya’s name until she turned herself to look at him (helping her to recognize her name). Once she saw her dad, Yan and I would both say “go! go! go!” as I gently bopped her in the water towards him. Then we repeated with Yan holding Sonya and me saying her name.

Now that Sonya can crawl, another game we played involved placing two different farm animals within crawling distance of Sonya. I would ask her, “which one says moo?” Sonya then would crawl (sometimes!) towards the cow. Sonya’s Ba Baba Lillian bought us these awesome farm animals, which double as pool toys. She loved them.

Bring your parents – if you can!: I would be remiss not to add that we did have Yan’s parents and sister at a hotel nearby. They were the most wonderful support while in Europe, and even watched Sonya a few nights so Yan and I could get some time away or visit places that were just not kid-friendly (e.g. Pompei). I think Sonya especially enjoyed having them there so that she could get that additional time to bond. A win-win!!

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Sonya and me with her Deda Eugene and Baba Lillian in Maiori, Italy

On Progress, Acceptance and Holland

Over the past few weeks, Sonya has made leaps in terms of her development. It seems like just yesterday she was a tiny bundle. Today, she officially started to crawl! I know our life is about to change drastically, but it is so exciting to see her make such great progress.

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Sonya at one week
Sonya last week as a flower girl at her Aunt Mariana's wedding
Sonya last week as a flower girl at her Aunt Mariana’s wedding – such a big girl!!

On the language front, Sonya is hearing and responding to sound much differently than just a few weeks ago. While in the beginning we were struggling to get her to simply notice/hear a loud sound, she has lately been emulating the sounds we make. This morning, for example, as I offered her some eggs, Sonya responded with “aye” the first sound in the word! Like many babies her age, she has started to do simple hand gestures like lifting her arms when she wants me to pick her up, but on occasion I have heard her say “uh!” for “up!” Interestingly, Sonya refuses to go to sleep unless she is wearing her implants. I carefully remove them as soon as she is in a deep sleep. She must be feeling very connected to the hearing world.

The Center for Hearing and Communication recently posted a terrific video where you can watch a brief moment from one of Sonya’s speech therapy sessions. Note – this took place several weeks ago – and I can already see the progress that has been made since that time – but it does give you a sense of the type of work we are doing with her amazing team of speech pathologists:

These days, I am feeling much better in general about Sonya’s well being. The implants themselves – which initially were difficult for me to see her with – have become such a part of Sonya that I don’t notice them at all. And when I do, I think they look rather cute. It brings to mind a poem that was sent to me by Shayna De Lowe, our cantor at Congregation Rodeph Sholom – and the mother of a son who also has bilateral cochlear implants. Cantor De Lowe has been an amazing support to me and my family. She also has an excellent blog focusing on her family’s experience here.

Prior to Sonya’s surgery, Cantor De Lowe sent me the below poem, which I love and re-read when needed.

Welcome to Holland … by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.” But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.” And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

Three Weeks In and Five Observations

Five observations three weeks after Sonya’s cochlear implant activation.

Several weeks following Sonya’s initial activation and here are my thoughts:

1. Our experience has been very different from the many YouTube videos which portray the activation of a cochlear implant as some kind of miraculous event – in which one’s ability to hear can be turned on like a light switch. I have watched these videos over and over. They are so moving. I am not saying such videos are not authentic. But I do sometimes question the context. Was this truly the “first time” the person could hear? Or, was this the third or fourth mapping? In any case, our experience with Sonya was much less dramatic.

2. The real work is now. While Sonya may be hearing sounds, she doesn’t yet recognize them and is having trouble processing them. She must learn to listen for and identify every new sound – which requires intense therapy and practice at home. Interestingly, while Sonya used to be able to hear low register sounds with her powerful hearing aids, she now is reacting only to high register sounds (such as bells ringing or, the “sh” and “s” sounds). She will need to re-learn how to interpret and process low register sounds.

3. Sonya’s sleep schedule has changed. She is exhausted after her intense therapy sessions in the morning, and will often sleep 2-3 hours following. At night, however, after a day of stimulation, her brain may be having trouble shutting off – and she tosses and turns, unable to fall asleep. Apparently, this is very common for babies post-implantation. From what I understand, it typically takes about a month for babies to adjust to being able to hear.

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Sonya is exhausted after her daily speech therapy sessions.

4. I find myself questioning every movement she makes. Was it a normal developmental milestone or an issue that is developing post-surgery? For example, Sonya loves to sway her body back and forth. For several days we worried whether this adorable swaying might actually be a vestibular issue resulting from the surgery. Thankfully, we no longer believe it is the case – as it is clear that it is voluntary (she just loves to dance!)

5. Further to the above, there is a constant anxiety that I am not doing enough during the day to stimulate Sonya’s hearing. I try to emulate the games we play during therapy, but often Sonya’s responses are less noticeable. Am I speaking loudly enough? Am I using the right sounds? Am I doing this right?

Ending on a positive note – A recent coup was that we were able to adjust the size of the processors Sonya wears behind her ears. We attached the compact rechargeable battery rather than the full size battery. This allows Sonya to wear her implants without additional wires clipped to her shirt. Not only challenging for us to constantly adjust where the clips were placed, depending on whether she was sitting or lying down, Sonya can now move around much easier. Special thanks to my husband Yan and mother-in-law Lillian for pushing me to make that change!

Not an Easy Week

It has been nearly a week since Sonya’s activation. I want to be positive here, but the truth is that this has been a very difficult week.

While Sonya has done amazing in terms of getting used to hearing much more sound than she was ever used to, she is also a baby. She loses patience quickly and doesn’t love having large devices hanging behind her ears and attached to her clothing. I am grateful that we were instructed to have Sonya wear hearing aids before her surgery – as she has grown somewhat accustomed to hearing devices. However, since her surgery a month ago, she has tasted the freedom of not wearing anything on her head. The cochlear implants are also much larger than her hearing aids and involve much more equipment. I feel like suddenly, what seemed to be manageable has become much more complicated…

Our speech therapists and audiologists have advised us to have Sonya to wear the implants as much as possible. But this has proven to be quite challenging. Particularly, in her car seat (where she spends about 5-6 hours per week on our way to and from speech therapy) and in her stroller.

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The issue is that the two coils, which connect/deliver information to the internal device, are placed on the back of her head. As soon as Sonya moves her head they fall off. Her implants came with a remote which beeps to alert us when the coil is off the implant. This weekend, I think the remote beeped about 40 times…

I could simply turn off the remote – but I want to do everything in my power to ensure that Sonya can hear. I kick myself anytime I notice that it has fallen off.

The good news is that the pilot caps and headbands have worked quite well to keep the processors in place behind Sonya’s ears. As long as she is upright – the processors and coils tend to stay on.

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Aside from the physical adjustment of learning how to effectively use and keep on the new equipment, it has also been an emotional adjustment. Whenever I take Sonya out in her stroller, her beautiful smile never ceases to attract strangers, who often approach us and comment on how adorable she is. I normally welcome such interactions, but these days, I feel nervous whenever it happens. Should I mention why she has wires hanging down from her head? Is it more awkward to bring it up? So far, I say nothing – and just accept the compliment and walk on.

From talking to other parents, I hear that the current adjustment period is temporary – and every baby who gets implants has the same problem – so they are on an even playing field. In time, Sonya will develop the ability to put her implants back on her head as soon as they fall off. In the meantime, would love to hear from other parents any suggestions to keeping them on her head. Thank you!

Sonya’s Cochlear Implant Activation

This week, Sonya became the proud owner of two Cochlear Nucleus devices. We turned on the devices over the course of two days — one day per ear.

At first, the audiologists tested the devices internally – so that Sonya could hear the sound, but we couldn’t. When the sound played, a box with a monkey in it lit up. Meanwhile, another therapist distracted her. So the audiologists could see if Sonya heard the sound by whether she would turn to the monkey in the box.

Once we knew Sonya was reacting to the sounds internally, the audiologists tested her reaction to sounds in her environment.

Here is Yan with Sonya on day 2 – testing her hearing in her left ear:

Unlike hearing aids, which came with a small pack of supplies, cochlear implants came with literally two small suitcases full of additional products to help you take care of the devices. It is a bit overwhelming to be honest – but I also feel extremely grateful that we have everything we need.

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Sonya even received a Cochlear Koala – with implants of its own, which she already adores and sleeps with in her crib.

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While I know this is a wonderful development, these past couple of days have been pretty tough on all of us. For one, it is an adjustment to see Sonya with the devices on. They are larger and more cumbersome than her hearing aids. Over the past few weeks, Sonya has grown accustomed to not wearing anything on her head, so she protests each time we put the CIs on by crying and wriggling. Sonya is also getting used to hearing much more sound than she was previously used to – which is tiring for her.

So I cling to small moments that tell me we are on the right path. Yesterday, while nursing – I started to sing and Sonya turned her head toward me and smiled so sweetly. She heard my voice. I’ll never forget that moment.

Preoccupations and Coincidences

Hours after our OB informed me that our unborn child had a 25 percent chance of deafness, Yan and I attended a piano concert at the Armory. The pianist, in a brief introduction before playing, explained why he had chosen to focus his concert exclusively on Beethoven’s works. Maybe it is the musician in me, but I knew this was a sign. Surely – the fact that we were listening to a concert of Beethoven’s works just hours after our genetic results had been communicated indicated that our child would be deaf.

Thinking back on it – I realize it was a preoccupation – but the coincidences didn’t seem to stop there. When I was 20 weeks pregnant, Yan and I decided to take a baby moon. I didn’t want to travel far, so we decided to take a road trip to the Berkshires. Knowing nothing but its Trip Advisor reviews, I made a reservation at the Birchwood Inn in Lenox, Massachusetts.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the inn keeper, a petite woman with short grey hair and glasses named Ellen Chenaux. Ellen helped with our luggage and gave us a tour of our room. She had gone all out for our baby moon, and provided us with a small basket of cookies, certificates for free ice cream at the town ice cream parlor, a stuffed dog (which Sonya now loves) and even a jar of pickles. It was too adorable. As she turned toward the door, I noticed she was wearing a cochlear implant.

The next morning as we entered the dining room, a white faced golden retriever brushed against the side of my leg, asking for a pet. The sweet animal sat at my feet near the fireplace as we enjoyed our breakfast, and I discreetly threw her a few scraps. Ellen must have noticed that we had connected with her dog, as she approached our table and explained that Quinn – like her – was also going deaf in her late age. Apparently, Quinn came to Ellen years earlier through a program called NEADS — Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans — after Ellen had developed late-onset-adult deafness. According to the Birchwood Inn’s website:

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Quinn — aka Molly Quinn McMuffin — is Ellen’s 14-year-old Golden Retriever and former Hearing Ear Dog…Quinn and Ellen — a late-deafened adult with miraculous cochlear implants — were a team for 12 years thanks to NEADS, the Princeton, MA-based association. Quinn, who is now retired, went from being an inmate, and alerted Ellen to sounds Ellen cannot hear by tapping Ellen’s leg with her paw.

Yan laughed as soon as Ellen returned to the kitchen. “Um…looks like all signs are pointing to deafness,” he joked. I tried to laugh it off – but couldn’t help but feel disturbed by the fact that out of every B&B, we chose the only one who had a deaf inn-keeper and dog.

Fashionable Hearing Aid Solutions

One of the most challenging aspects of having a baby who wears hearing aids was how to keep them on her head! Like most babies, Sonya must put everything in her mouth. Hearing aids included.

It is critical that Sonya keep her aids on, however, for as much of the day as possible. We were left scratching our heads as to how this could be accomplished? It sometimes took up to five minutes just to get them on her only for her to quickly take them out and stick them in her mouth. Adorable, and yet extremely frustrating.

Our speech therapists and audiologists had the following suggestions:

Option 1: In our hearing aid kit provided by Early Intervention (EI) we received Phonak Leo the Lion kids clip, which is a cord that attaches to the hearing aids and clips on to the back of Sonya’s shirt. Sonya didn’t love the clip. She noticed the cords when she turned her head and immediately pulled at it. I also didn’t love the look of it. Bright green with a lion cartoon on the clip. Cute – but also drew attention to her hearing aids. The quality also seemed to be lacking a bit.

Option 2: Phonak Stick ‘n Stay hearing aid stickers. We also received a pack of 30 pairs of clear sticky pads, which hold the hearing aids to Sonya’s ears. I used these for a good month – and they seemed to help initially. However, once Sonya learned to take them off, they lost their effectiveness as they were no longer sticky once removed. I also found the packaging frustrating to open and the stickers were time consuming to apply. The upside is this tape is a more sensitive solution for baby’s ears, leaving no residue and can be easily applied and removed. A good – but not perfect solution.

Option 3: Pilot caps. I for the record thought Sonya looked like a cute little aviator in these baby pilot caps we purchased at Hanna Anderson. Perfect for Spring, they held the hearing aids in place. She never bothered with them. Style-wise, they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. My sister-in-law thought it looked like a swim cap. Nonetheless they worked. Polarn O. Pyret also sells a similar version.

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Option 4: Crochet baby headbands. By far my favorite. Sonya looks adorable with these vibrant headbands which are comfortable to wear and hold the hearing aids firmly in place. I bought a pack of 30 for $15 through Amazon Prime. We have one that matches pretty much every outfit Sonya owns. She gets tons of compliments when she wears them. Win-win!

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Option 5: With the summer months upon us, Sonya typically wears her sunhat everywhere we go – and I have found this to be a great option as well. The best kind tie under the chin and have UV protection. Polarn O. Pyret makes a great one with an elastic band that holds the hat in place around the head and a slightly wider brim in the back to protect the shoulders and back. The hat also keeps her hearing aids in place without a problem.

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Do you have any other ideas? Feel free to let me know! I’ll be interested in hearing about any options that will work particularly well with Sonya’s new cochlear implants.

Accepting a New Normal

While I realize it is petty, one of the most upsetting aspects of Sonya’s hearing loss was the fact that she would need to wear hearing aids, and eventually cochlear implants.

I love the way Sonya looks and couldn’t process the fact that she would need external devices in order to hear. Above all, I feared how she would be perceived by others. The implants and hearing aids are visible and will cause people to question whether she is “a normal child.” I am ashamed to admit that it took several audiological visits to convince me that her ability to hear far outweighed such aesthetic differences.

When Sonya was one month old, she received a pair of loaner hearing aids from NYU. Aside from the fact that they blinked red lights to indicate they were on, they were actually very cute. IMG_2387IMG_2384

I realized then that my underlying fear – that these aids would somehow define my daughter – was unrealized. Sonya’s personality continued to shine, and the hearing aids did not take away from that. In fact, people didn’t even notice them – or if they did – they were drawn to her inner and outer beauty and the aids were only a side fact.