This post has been heavy on my heart to write for the last few months, but I honestly couldn’t find the words. I’m not even sure if I have the words now. It’s all been a whirlwind, a mix of not wanting to share this until I had all of the information, and also not wanting to say it out loud. Because, of course, saying it out loud makes it too real. It makes it true. My son is my whole entire world, and I am completely guilty of keeping him in a bubble in an effort to keep him safe and protect him as best as I can. However, when the audiologist uttered the words “Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss in both ears”, that bubble imploded. Our fears were confirmed. My son is hard of hearing, and will need hearing aids in both ears to improve his quality of hearing, speech, and life.
Looking back, I can’t pinpoint when I knew that something was off. It was a lot of little things. He was a bit behind as far as development goes, but would catch up rather quickly. It wasn’t until he was 15 months that he started walking. When he talked, some of the words sounded muffled, and he yelled a lot. I remember he started hitting his ears, and poking inside of them while he talked.
Starting at his 9 month well visit, I began mentioning it to his pediatrician. At first, my concerns were brushed aside, they checked him for ear infections and always gave the “all-clear”. I continued persisting, demanding referrals to specialists, and advocating for him as best as I could. It’s extremely difficult, as a parent, to not have your concerns validated. For the last few months, I’ve felt like I was screaming and no one was listening. I finally got the referrals that I was begging for, to specialists and ENT doctors.
We’ve had several appointments at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, as well as some local Ear, Nose, and Throat doctors. Over the course of these appointments, we’ve been unable to complete the hearing evaluation. Since Grayson is so young, it’s hard for him to have doctors poking and prodding in his ears. And since we have some trouble communicating with him, there was no explaining what was happening, no way to calm him. The appointments were absolutely miserable, for all of us.
There was pressure and a lot of talk regarding sedating him so that the doctors would be able to pinpoint his hearing loss. The thought of sedating my 20 month old son just didn’t sit well with me, so I worked with him for weeks at home. I would ask him if I could touch his ears, let him touch his ears, etc. We worked on this a little at a time, every day, and I just prayed that it would help.
We had a follow up evaluation at Vanderbilt about two weeks ago. When I tell y’all that I came prepared…I am not lying. I had my giant bag filled to the brim with five different kinds of snacks, bubbles, books, toys, anything that I could think of to make him comfortable. He sat through every single test with minimal discomfort and hardly any tears! The audiologist told us the information she got from him was as much as she would get from an adult sitting and taking the test. Thinking about how well he did that day still brings me to tears. We finally have answers! His hearing loss is mild in one ear, and mild to moderate in the other. He will be needing hearing aids, speech therapy sessions, and continuous hearing evaluations.
The staff there is incredibly kind, patient, and so understanding. I appreciate them so much, and I feel like we will get to know them all quite well over the next several years.
We have already done his hearing aid selection appointment, and our next step is to have ear molds made. That appointment is coming up in a few weeks. Once those are finished, he will have his dispensing appointment (where he gets his hearing aids). Then we will be able to move forward with speech therapies.
For the moment, I’m taking comfort in the fact that my son is such a happy kid. Truly. His joy is absolutely contagious–and for that, my husband and I are forever grateful. He’s starting to notice that he doesn’t hear as he should, and he adapts. Any of his toys that make noise, he will hold them up to his ears so that he can hear them better. We are well on the way to getting him aided, and that day will be so surreal. He will be able to truly hear us, and communicate better with us. I can’t wait for that.