Hearing Loss and Helmets

For young New Yorkers, a scooter is a rite of passage. Walk down West End Avenue, and you will inevitably see a two-year old child (or younger!) careen by in one. Their hands holding the handrails tightly. Their mouths frozen in a smile that borders hysteria; intense fear in their eyes.  Years ago, I swore to Yan that we would never get one for our future child.

Fast forward to this past Spring. Sonya (seated in her stroller) would point at children on scooters on our way to school. “I want that!” she told me. “I want a purple one!”

“Uh huh,” I said. Trying not to encourage it.

“Mom!” Sonya’s eyes lit up. “We can go buy one at the store!” It wasn’t a demand as much as a realization.

A week later, I gave in (yep…I know….judgers gonna judge). We went to West Side Kids toy store, and Sonya picked out the scooter of her dreams. She was so thrilled she rode it out of the store.

Here she is enjoying her first ride:

West Side Kids only had a limited selection of helmets. We went with a Nutcase helmet – mainly because they were cute (again…I know). Sonya picked one out with pink and orange flowers. The sales person removed some of the styrofoam protection on the inside, so that the coils of her CIs would not fall off as soon as we put it on.

Unfortunately, the helmet didn’t work. It either hung too loosely (and would knock of her CIs every time she turned her head) or would be too tight to put on with the CIs comfortably and without sliding her headband down her forehead in front of her eyes. It was also impossible to tell if the CIs were working or not. The helmet blocked me from seeing the front of her processors (which blink green if the CIs are working and yellow if not).

After a couple falls we put the scooter away. Sonya didn’t want to ride it anymore, and I didn’t want her to either – not until we had a solution that didn’t involve her riding without a helmet or without sound.

Per the advice of a friend (who’s son faced a similar dilemma), I took Sonya to Bicycle Renaissance to see if they could fix her helmet. After careful inspection, the salesman told me the Nutcase helmet was just not right for her. She needed something bigger with a flexible inside so that we could adjust it to fit her CIs. He suggested a Bern.

I bought Sonya a Bern Unlimited Jr. helmet from Amazon. I love it so far. The main positive is it has a velcro strap in the back that easily allows us to customize the fit to her head – with the CIs on. I can easily see the CIs blinking on her ears (as the helmet rests a bit further back on her head), and yet the coverage is still very good (with a sun visor no less). Sonya loves the bright pink color and wears it when we are home for fun. Win win!

 

Today, Sonya talks frequently about her scooter. She points to it proudly and declares “that’s mines!” each time we get out of the elevator to our floor as it sits in our hallway outside of our apartment. Unfortunately, she isn’t yet feeling up to riding it (and we aren’t pushing her to do so). She is a pretty cautious child after all, and a couple of those falls weren’t pretty. That said, I feel better knowing that at least we have a helmet that fits in the event she decides to give it another whirl (that is until she outgrows it…. I guess we have a couple months :).

How to Tell People Your Child Has Hearing Loss (And How to Respond)

We sat around a circle in a colorful nursery school classroom. Our babies in front of us, propped up on pillows. Sonya was only three months old at the time. My breasts throbbed in pain as I had plugged ducts once again – but this was not a breastfeeding support group — as desperately as I wished it were. I can’t help but find the humor in that I just wished I were with a group of strangers talking about my breasts!

No, this was “group therapy” for new parents of babies with various degrees of hearing loss.

“Hi, I’m Missy,” I said, louder than intended. “This is my daughter Sonya. She is three months old. She is profoundly deaf.”

Profoundly deaf. How silly I was. As if the term deaf didn’t already imply profound hearing loss, but I was new to this.

As a new mom to a child with hearing loss, I struggled to describe my child’s condition. While my immediate family knew, Yan and I had yet to tell any friends or distant relatives. My greatest anxiety at the time was how do I tell people Sonya is deaf when I had trouble saying the word “deaf” without falling to pieces?

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We decided to tell people one-by-one, or not at all. This was emotionally very taxing. I didn’t feel it was something I could say by phone, so we just waited until an in-person meeting naturally arose, and then tried to play it casual (which in retrospect, was very very awkward.)

“Yeah, so Sonya is actually deaf.” I told my good friend who had come over for brunch. 

“Oh,” she said. Her face expressionless. 

“Yeah, we were really shocked. But we are looking into her getting cochlear implants, which are really amazing.” My eyes filled with tears but I grinned through it. 

“Yeah – she won’t even be deaf then.” 

The conversation moved on. And I was devastated by how cavalier my friend’s response was to our situation. But the fact was, I had put her on the spot. She had no idea how to react (how could she?) In another instance, we had the opposite reaction.

“Sonya can’t hear.” Yan told his friend. “She has a genetic mutation. It’s pretty interesting actually, she will probably get cochlear implants.”

“I’m so sorry. I just can’t get over the irony,” his friend replied. “Two people who love music so much….”

It was kinda like he had twisted the knife. But we just smiled politely and moved on.

Now, these were just a couple terrible responses. We also received many very kind and warm and empathetic words of support, which I hold dear to this day. I wanted to relay the above experiences because a friend of mine took the opposite approach when informing friends of her child’s hearing loss.

She simply sent a mass email.

Her email was short, optimistic, honest and explicit. She didn’t delve into her heartache or fear, but she she also didn’t pretend all was hunky dory. Rather, she let her friends and family know that while her child is doing very well and is a great joy to their lives, they were born with profound hearing loss.

I think sending an email is wonderful solution. I came up with the below template in case it is helpful for parents out there.

Dear family and friends. 

Sonya is a very special baby, and the birth announcement can’t possibly say it all. We feel so lucky and blessed to be her parents. Sonya was born with profound hearing loss. We want to give you time to adjust to the news so you won’t feel the need to have an immediate response. We would love for you to meet her. She is intelligent, beautiful, bubbly and full of curiosity. We are very optimistic for her future as she is a likely recipient for cochlear implants, which will afford her the ability to hear most everything. We are still gathering information, but will keep you apprised. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Love, Missy and Yan

And for those out there receiving the news that your friend’s child has hearing loss, here are some tips on what to say and what not to say:

What Not to Say 

“I’m sorry” Any statement that contains pity was not pleasant to receive and didn’t convey the feelings I had about my child at all. I felt blessed from the moment Sonya was born.

“It could be worse” statements felt like the challenges we were only starting to understand were being minimized.

“I think this happened to you because you can handle it.” or “God gives special children special parents.” Implies that my child’s situation is so awful only I would love and care for her. Also, trying to explain to a parent why God did something is rarely helpful.

What to Say

I think congratulating the new parents is the most important thing you can say – because they deserve to be congratulated.

Offer to help. If you know of someone who has cochlear implants already, offer to connect them. We were taking Sonya to multiple appointments a day for months after her birth – so meals, offering to babysit, etc. are great ways to respond.

“She looks just like you.” I loved it when people complimented Sonya’s looks or behavior. Still do 🙂

Acknowledge the grief the parents are feeling. “I know I can’t take the pain away, but I wish I could.” Or, “There will be challenges but the love and joy will be so intense you will not be able to imagine your life without this little girl!”

 

 

Do you have other ideas on how to discuss hearing loss that worked for you? I would love to hear about them!

 

 

Sonya Sings All the Time

In the mornings, as I push Sonya down West End Avenue in her stroller, Sonya sings. Loudly.  Sometimes she takes requests. Most of the time she sings to her own soundtrack, on repeat. It’s pretty cute. Strangers often smile as we pass. I love to sing too, so I sometimes try to accompany, to which she immediately protests. “Stop Mom! It’s my turn! Okay?”

During our walks, Sonya sings the ABCs, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Frère Jacque (en Français – pas mal!), Songs of her own invention and her favorite new song “The Orange Room class song.” The Orange Room is Sonya’s room at nursery school. She attends a mainstream two’s program at the Nursery School at Habonim.

 

The Orange Room is the place to be
We learn to count. One, two, three
Music, yoga, science too
Our school colors are orange and blue!
The Orange Room is the place to be
We’re as happy as happy can be!

I can’t help but feel this is pretty amazing progress considering Sonya was born deaf and has worn bilateral cochlear implants since she was eight months old.

According to AudiologyOnline, singing has positive effects in cognitive, linguistic, memory and music perception for kids with hearing loss. At the Center for Hearing and Communication, where Sonya receives her speech therapy services, we were encouraged to incorporate music into Sonya’s life from her earliest days with hearing aids. They even secured free classes with Music Together, which Sonya loved.

While Sonya often sings to express joy, she also turns to music when she is angry.  Her current ‘go-to’ angry song is one she wrote herself. It goes:

I don’t like
I don’t like
I don’t like
Mommy Missy!

As I often discuss on this blog, when we learned Sonya would need cochlear implants we were initially very concerned about what this would mean in terms of her appreciation of music. Now, Sonya hasn’t yet demonstrated tone or pitch accuracy. She often starts a song in one key and ends up in a different key. According to AudiologyOnline, most kids develop this skill by kindergarten, though these are skills that might be more difficult for someone using cochlear implants. Cochlear implants were developed to access speech. Music is more complex. But, clearly, there is much we don’t understand about electronic hearing. Despite the obstacles, Sonya loves to sing. She loves to dance. And for the time being, she seems to enjoy it as well as her friends who hear acoustically.

Sing it Sonya!

Could We See a Cure for Hearing Loss in the Next Decade? Scientists at Stanford Are Optimistic

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Sonya hanging out in her favorite place: The American Museum of Natural History. She already loves science 🙂

Sonya was born deaf, but she was also born into an amazing age where symptoms of hearing loss can be relieved. When she was just seven months old, Sonya was implanted with cochlear implants which provide her a solid range of sound – particularly within the vocal range. Because of this technology, she is learning to speak and listen (and at two-years-old is on par with her hearing peers in terms of speech and comprehension!)

While cochlear implants are an amazing solution – they do not cure hearing loss. For example, Sonya likely does not hear music as we do. She likely does not access the subtlety and grandeur of sound that we are afforded.

But imagine, one day, if there was a way to restore hearing loss — even for people who have cochlear implants.

Researchers at Stanford not only believe it is possible – but within our reach in the next 10 years. Imagine what that would mean for someone like Sonya? Someone who never had use of her ears. Imagine what it would mean for the nearly 48 million Americans who report some degree of hearing loss and the nearly 278 million people worldwide.stanford

This week, we met with Dr. Robert Jackler, the lead researcher at the Stanford Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss  and Dr. Stefan Heller (who runs Heller Lab at Stanford) and whose mission is to create biological cures for major forms of hearing loss. Unlike other institutions which are focusing efforts on improving the symptoms of hearing loss, Stanford is working to address the (main) underlying problem: loss of inner ear sensory hair cells.

Let me explain. We are born with thousands of hair follicles that live deep within the inner ear — inside the shell-shaped cochlea. These hairs transmit vibrations to the brain, which interprets those vibrations as sound.

For Sonya – who was born with a genetic mutation (Connexin 26) –  and is missing a necessary protein to grow the above hair follicles – the diagnosis of deafness seems intangible. But Dr. Jackler and his team believes such hair follicles can be regenerated. To do so, Stanford has pulled together researchers in four key areas: stem cell therapy, gene therapy, molecular therapy and targeted neural stimulation. In 2015, Stanford scientists discovered biological mechanisms that appear to play a role in the regeneration of cells in the inner ear. They have also been able to regenerate such hair cells in mice.

Dr. Jackler brought up one avenue of research, that is particularly compelling. Many children suffer from hearing loss because of complications at birth. Aminoglycoside antibiotics are given to babies (especially in developing countries) to prevent infection. Yet, for some infants, the use of these drugs can cause hearing loss. Aminoglycoside antibiotics can travel into the inner ear and kill hair cells. Stanford researchers across an array of disciplines are very close to developing a way to protect the inner ear, while still allowing the drug to kill bacteria – thereby saving the patient’s hearing. This development would literally save millions of babies from hearing loss.

To many, Stanford’s Initiative to Cure Hearing Loss might seem too challenging, too expensive, too far out there to fund. Investments in hearing loss technology including hearing aids and cochlear implants have been society’s focus – but I would urge people not to disregard such research. The future of all our ears depends on it.

Check it out: https://hearinglosscure.stanford.edu/

They also have an interesting blog where you can stay updated on their research: https://hearinglosscure.stanford.edu/blog/

 

Mapping Sonya’s Cochlear Implants

While I frequently discuss Sonya’s cochlear implant mappings on the blog, I haven’t really shown you what they are like, with the exception of her initial mapping/activation.

A MAP is a program that optimizes a cochlear implant user’s access to sound. The audiologist connects Sonya’s processors to a computer. Sonya then hears a series of beeps and the audiologist measures her response.

As an infant, measuring this response was rather tricky. The audiologist might observe a change in eye movement, a head turn or Sonya might stop moving. All of these behaviors indicate that Sonya was hearing the sound. Upon seeing such behavior, the audiologist would light up a black box with a toy playing the drum (or something similar). This would condition Sonya to look at the box when she heard the sound. Thus, the audiologist was able to get a sense as to which sounds Sonya could and could not hear.

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An example of a sound booth where audiologists will screen for hearing loss

Now that Sonya is two, her mappings are a bit different. When Sonya hears a sound, she puts a coin in a piggy bank. She is still working on this skill, but it is a much easier/accurate way to determine whether or not she hears the sound.

First the audiologist sends the sound directly to Sonya’s processors. We don’t hear it. Only she does. Then, the audiologist turns her processors on to detect noises in her environment. In the videos below, you can watch Sonya listen to the sounds through her processors at first – putting a coin in a pig each time she hears the sound. Then, she will repeat sounds, which shows us that she is hearing the sounds in her environment as well. The sounds that Sonya is asked to repeat are called “Ling Sounds”. Ling Sounds are different sounds which vary from high to low pitch. They are considered the range of speech sounds needed to acquire language.

Here is part 1 of Sonya’s latest mapping:

Here is part 2:

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Sonya’s speech therapists use the below Ling sound symbols when working with Sonya . When Sonya is presented with an airplane, for instance, she knows to make the “ah” sound. It’s another way to make sure she is receiving the auditory input necessary to speak.

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How Does a Cochlear Implant Sound vs Normal Hearing? Barb Cole Shares Her Perspective

Our daughter Sonya was born deaf but with the help of cochlear implants, she now hears most everything we do, albeit differently. Unlike hearing aids, which amplify sound, cochlear implants bypass the damaged area of the ear, and stimulate the auditory nerve directly, using electrodes. The signals produced by the electrodes are then recognized as sounds by the brain. Since Sonya is only 22 months, she unfortunately can’t describe what it is like to hear with cochlear implants.

My family’s friend Barb Cole, however, can! Barb suffered from degenerative hearing loss, and received a cochlear implant in her retirement. In the following post, Barb shares her difficult yet fascinating story:

My Cochlear Hybrid Implant Story
By Barb Cole

In the beginning, I did not realize I had a hearing loss until a colleague told me I was talking very loudly on the phone. I was only in my mid 30s, but found the need to gradually increase the phone’s volume at work, so I could hear my clients.  I probably had hearing issues prior to this intervention and was not aware of them. I saw a doctor, who told me my hearing was borderline and that at this time I did not need hearing aids. 

Ten years later, I decided to get my masters in special education. I finally got hearing aids in order to work with my students (children are more difficult to hear than adults for me). For the next 15 years I taught special needs students. I loved it, but my hearing was declining and I needed to make a career decision for my students and for myself – and so I retired.

At that time, I had received new hearing aids, but they were not really helping, so I looked into cochlear implants. Unfortunately, I was told I would not qualify for the devices, because I still had some hearing. My hearing loss was mostly in the high frequency range. I became depressed and frustrated. I could not understand my grandchildren or people on the phone. My hearing difficulties affected my speech. I struggled with pronouncing words correctly – especially multi-syllable words. I needed help going into stores, seeing doctors and talking with friends, It was very disturbing and humiliating.

When we moved from Minneapolis to Chicago my life changed! My new doctor said I qualified for a Cochlear Hybrid Implant. I would be his second patient and I would participate in a Cochlear study. He was so positive and understanding. I had my operation in November 2015, which went very well (but recovery was very painful). I was connected with my processor in December. I feel like I am traveling a very long journey. The doctor says it can take up to two years to heal.

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Barb’s new cochlear implant

My brain needs to re-learn how to hear, so working with the audiologist has been extremely important. There were some misunderstandings during post-activation, because I was so used to writing everything down. I needed time to process information before I could understand it. My brain is not used to hearing, processing, and understanding at the same time. It turned out to be an adjustment for the audiologist too – I kept trying to slow her down and repeat important information. 

As my brain was trying to connect with my implant, I would hear loud chirping sounds – which is normal. This is the brain’s reaction to the new range of high frequency sounds (such as a child’s squeal or a police siren) that I am now able to hear. As the audiologist programs my processor, my range of sounds have been expanding – this is done slowly. The chirping sounds are annoying, but as the brain adjusts then they begin to fade – until new sounds are introduced. The radio, tv, and other electronic devices tend to have high frequencies, which causes more chirping sounds.   

My brain is still learning to work with my implant. I do two hours of hearing homework a day – it’s exhausting. Homework includes listening to audio books and following along with the printed books. I do hearing games and exercises on my iPad and computer. My husband reads to me and I read to him. I listen to the TV, radio, etc., with captions, as I need to hear different sound sources in order to make the connection in my brain. 

Over the last six months, there has been much testing and adjusting. This past June was my six-month post-activation check-up. I received the best news. My hearing is now in the normal range (at the bottom but in the normal range) under perfect conditions. The chirping sounds had lessened, which meant my brain had successfully adjusted to the frequency range. The audiologist then expanded the frequency range enabling me to hear more sounds. 

One of the hardest adjustments has been dealing with people. I still need people to look at me, talk a little slower and clearly, so that I can hear and understand them. Loudness is an issue. While, I can adjust my devices for volume, when people talk too loudly the sounds I hear are distorted. I have thus lowered the volume of the TV – a big improvement. It is a bit easier to listen on the phone, but there are many variables: articulation, fluency, distortions, pitch, accents, and background noises. My pronunciation has greatly improved, however. I can now hear the difference in how I pronounce words and the correct way they should be pronounced.

Overall, I am glad I have the implant/processor, but it is a huge commitment and adjustment. Today I can hear birds and insects – even other people’s conversations!

Thank you, Barb!! 

The Fear of an Ear Infection

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Sonya’s right ear, which had developed an infection at the mastoid

A couple weeks ago, Sonya developed an ear infection. It may have started on the way home from our vacation. As the plane descended, Sonya screamed in pain. “Ee-ya!” she said, pointing to her right ear. She seemed fine once we landed, however. I didn’t think much of it.

A week later, Sonya had developed dark red circles under her eyes. They looked irritated, so I tried to use a warm compress on them a few times a day. It didn’t help. A day later, Sonya developed red dots across her cheeks and neck. She would hold her ear and cry “ee-ya, ee-ya!”

The pediatrician saw redness in her ear, but nothing more. It was only in the ear canal, so he gave us Cefdenir, an antibiotic, and drops. I felt relief knowing that we had caught the infection early.

The next morning, as Sonya played in her room, I noticed her right ear was sticking straight out of her head. The infection had spread. I immediately called her pediatrician’s office. A nurse told me to contact Sonya’s surgeon.

While ear infections are one of the most common ailments among young children, kids with cochlear implants are at higher risk for complications. Major infections may have serious consequences, as infections in the ear can (in rare cases) move to the surgical site. While rare, such infections occur more frequently in pediatric patients according to a recent study.

Sonya’s ear infection had spread to her mastoid, which is the back part of the temporal bone. By the time our surgeon looked at it, gunk was coming out of her ear. Thankfully, the surgeon changed her prescription to Augmentin, which is a more comprehensive blend of antibiotics. Within a week, the ear was back to normal.

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Sonya’s right ear, a few days later. Still sticking out but not red.

Today, Sonya is doing great, and the infection seems to have cleared completely. That said, the experience helped me realize that while Sonya may seem like any other kid, she unfortunately, is more prone to complications arising from infection and if we are not vigilant, things can go south quickly. It was very frightening how quickly what seemed to be a mild ear infection moved to her surgical site.

From this experience, I plan to purchase an otoscope. While I can’t diagnose an ear infection, I can at least see what a healthy ear looks like and it will give me piece of mind to be able to see into Sonya’s ear when needed.

Update: We recently visited Sonya’s surgeon. He suggested that Sonya get her Pneumovax 23 vaccine before our trip to Europe  at the end of the summer. This vaccine is typically given to kids with CIs around their second birthday, but he didn’t see a downside with her getting it a month earlier. Our pediatrician agreed. As for the otoscope, Sonya’s surgeon did not recommend one. He said that we could actually do more damage to Sonya’s ear by probing too far in by accident.

Peppa Pig Saves the Day

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For weeks we struggled with Sonya’s persistent desire to remove her CIs. Nothing seemed to work. Nothing, that is, until in desperation we turned on our computer and let her watch Peppa Pig on YouTube. Sonya was immediately transfixed. Maybe it was the bright colors, the cheeky anthropomorphic animals, or the simple drawings. It might have had to do with the fact that one of Sonya’s first toys was a stuffed Peppa Pig doll. Whatever it was, Sonya wanted to hear this show. She pointed to her ears and sat still so that I could put her processors behind them.

This approach has worked 100 percent of the time. Even better is the fact that she is taking her processors off less often.

Our speech therapists have rallied behind this development. We incorporate Peppa and her family into speech therapy. Using a Melissa & Doug Wooden Doorbell House, we place a member of Peppa’s family inside each of the four doors. From there, Sonya must say “Hi Peppa Pig” or “Hi Mummy Pig,” etc.

Though I am happy we found a solution, I was initially disappointed to find that videos were the key to keeping Sonya’s processors on. I felt like in some way I had failed her. That I was taking the easy way out. I didn’t even want to admit to it on this blog. I worry that I may have opened Pandora’s Box. Perhaps Sonya will realize that I have no Plan B and will simply take her CIs off whenever she is in the mood to just zone out and watch TV.

While we are not a family that has forbidden screen time, we have tried to limit it. We allow Sonya to watch TV for about 15 minutes in the morning before breakfast and when we are driving to therapy and back. I am trying to phase out mindless videos and focus on interactive iPad games such as Daniel Tiger, Peek-a-Boo Barn, Toddler JukeBox, and My Very Hungry Caterpillar instead. I think that most everything in moderation is okay, and that some screen time that serves a purpose is okay.

But I have decided to be less harsh on myself. I’ll cross the above bridge if/when I get to it. For now, the importance of her being connected to the world of sound outweighs the potential negative side-effects. Including the fact that the theme songs to Peppa Pig seems to be burned in my brain.

On the other hand, how adorable would it be if Sonya learned to speak with a British accent?!

The Sound and the Fury

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Now a toddler, Sonya has her own opinions on whether or not she wants to hear the world.

I remember when I first took Sonya to group therapy at the Center of Hearing and Communication. All of the parents seemed to share one concern: how to keep their child’s hearing aids on their heads. It was a problem we faced as well. At the time, Sonya was only a few months old. As long as we came up with a solution, be it double sided tape, headbands or hats, Sonya would wear her hearing aids and later, CIs without complaint. I remember the frustration I felt at that time. That it would never be this hard. I was so naive then….

These days, keeping Sonya’s CIs on her head is a constant battle. Now in toddlerhood at 17 months, Sonya realizes she holds tremendous power. If she doesn’t like carrots, she can make it clear by throwing them off of her high chair, along with her CIs. If she wants milk from a bottle instead of a cup (another battle we are simultaneously fighting) she can remove her CIs until she gets her way.

This change seemed to happen overnight. A month ago, she would point to her CIs anytime the coil came off her head (leaving her without sound), to ensure that I corrected the issue promptly. She was connected to the hearing world, and she seemed to prefer it to the quiet.

Last week, however, during our gym class, Sonya decided she didn’t want to hear the world around her anymore, and she threw her CIs to the ground and had a full-on tantrum. It was (I hate to say) embarrassing, worrisome and scary for me to watch. Embarrassing because I felt like other moms may have been judging. I worry about the fact that perhaps some day, Sonya will prefer this world. And that thought is frightening. In the clip below, I am observing Sonya playing with bubbles at the end of her gym class. While I sound happy, I am feeling very discouraged. Sonya, now calm – but without sound – looks so into her own world here…

As Sonya becomes more aware of the world around her, I imagine it can be quite overwhelming at times. Perhaps the sounds of the world can feel to be too much, and since she has the ability to simply turn it off, she may choose to do so. When this happens, I feel there is little I can do. If she turns her back to me, I can’t communicate with her (Sonya reads lips, and knows a few simple baby signs). It is a powerless feeling.

I have surveyed other moms in this predicament, and their responses have been mixed. They include:

Completely ignore the behavior. When Sonya takes her CIs off, I try not to react. She seeks a reaction. However, ignoring her behavior does not get her to put them back on. Further, Sonya is inclined to try to get into mischief when not wearing the CIs. Frankly, it is impossible/dangerous to ignore a 17 month old…Perhaps it would work if she were older.

Engage the child in a way so that she wants to wear her CIs again. For example, read a book, or do an interactive game on the iPad. This sometimes works for us. If I give Sonya my iPhone and put on Masha and the Bear (her favorite show) – she will sometimes allow me to put the CIs back on. It’s not an ideal solution, since I can see this getting out of control pretty quickly.

Prevent the child from participating in an activity they enjoy until they put the CIs back on. For example, if the child doesn’t want to wear the CIs in the pool, keep her out of the pool and make her watch the other children until she agrees to put them back on. I have heard from several moms that this technique is effective. However, it is too strict for me. I don’t want to force Sonya to feel left out because she has CIs.

Praise the child when she allows you to put them back on, and do so throughout the day. It is hard to say whether this strategy is effective, but it makes me feel good – and hopefully makes Sonya feel good too. I can tell that she loves to please us. As soon as we put the CIs back on her head, we give her a hug and kiss and tell her she is doing a great job.

Within this strategy, some suggestions include:

  • Give the child a sticker or a treat every time they allow you to put the CIs back on. For us, praise itself seems to be the strongest motivator – although I realize that could change soon.
  • Praise the child indirectly, by letting them overhear you talking about them positively. I try to compliment Sonya indirectly by telling my husband what a great job Sonya is doing by wearing her CIs, while she is in the room. I can tell Sonya knows when we are talking about her.

I realize this list is short. Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution, yet. If I come across a foolproof technique, I’ll be sure to let you know.

 

 

 

 

 

Sonya Gets Stitches

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Sonya recently discovered a new game. It’s one she tends to play when frustrated or tired. She will look at me mischievously, then will pull off her CIs and (while smiling) drop or throw them on the floor. As soon as she sees me get up to put them back on her head, that’s her cue to take off running and laughing hysterically.

Unfortunately, on Tuesday, Sonya ran full speed into our radiator, face first. I don’t think I will ever be able to erase the sound of her little head hitting the wooden radiator cover from my memory, nor the guilt I feel that I could have prevented it.

I wasn’t sure how severe the wound was. She was crying like crazy, but calmed after a few minutes. I didn’t see much blood either. Just a cut that ran an inch length-wise above her eye, crossing her eyebrow diagonally.

I immediately FaceTimed my dad, a physician, who told me to call our pediatrician’s office. They told me to come by right away so that Sonya’s doctor could take a look, and we were there 10 minutes later.

By the time we got there, the bleeding had picked up speed. It was now running down her little cheek. Gotta love our pediatrician who, when entering the examination room to see me in shock and Sonya bleeding, asked calmly, “So, how has your day been?”

“Horrible!” I cried.

After cleaning and examining the wound, he referred us to a plastic surgeon on the Upper East Side – who he said would be able to stitch the wound without impacting the shape of her eyebrow.

I had no idea what was in store. Watching Sonya get stitches was one of the top three (if not the) worst moment of my life so far. Since she is so little, they decided not to sedate her, rather give her local anesthetic – which needed to be injected by needle to the affected site. Sonya screamed in pain. Once the pain relievers went into effect, Sonya still felt the tension of the surgery, so she continued to scream and cry “Mama!” and “Dada!” I meanwhile, tried to hold her down with the help of another nurse to make sure the doctor was able to do his job. Several internal stitches and seven external stitches later, we were done. Sonya got her Thomas the Tank Engine stickers and we went home.

Sonya fell asleep in the Uber back to our apartment, and stayed asleep for a couple hours that afternoon. It wasn’t until she was in her crib asleep that the events of the day hit me, and I am still recovering. Sonya meanwhile, seems to be doing okay with her wound. She points at it from time to time, and says something that sounds like “bobo.” Today, I put a band-aid on her baby doll’s head, and told her that in one week, it would be all better – which is when we will go back to the surgeon to remove the stitches.

So it seems, that Sonya will need to go back to wearing headbands. Hopefully, they prevent her from removing her CIs and taking off like a mad person. I am also further baby-proofing our apartment…Would love to hear any other ideas on how parents kept baby’s CIs on during this toddler phase.

 

 

 

 

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