My beautiful baby is born and the feelings of joy are immense. Everything is brand new and a little overwhelming. The routine hearing screening at the hospital is performed. Wait. What? My baby needs more testing? But that doesn’t make sense! We have no history of hearing loss in the family and my baby is "healthy.” I do as suggested and schedule a full diagnostic test. The results show a permanent hearing loss. The audiologist is recommending hearing aids. A vision of an older gentleman at church with his large ears and orthopedic-looking hearing aids flashes in my mind. But, the audiologist brings out the cutest little pair of sparkling, pink hearing aids. She explains that with consistent use of hearing aids my child will be able to meet developmental milestones in speech and language just like a child without hearing loss. The audiologist explains that children are impressionable and are affected by the emotions of the adults around them. If I am embarrassed of her hearing loss and hearing aids, my child will grow up believing her hearing loss is something to be ashamed of. However, if I embrace and love my child as she is, she will grow up to be self confident and can achieve anything she puts her mind to! The audiologist has given me these tips as we being our journey:
- Insist my daughter wear her hearing aids all day, every day, so she can develop speech and language. This includes special occasions like her 1st birthday party and school picture days. These hearing aids will be a part of who my daughter is.
- Have fun with the hearing aids. I ordered the pink ones, but it was a tough decision because the bright blue ones were adorable also. She even gave me cool stickers I can take on and off to match her outfit. As my daughter grows she can choose her own colors.
- Address any difficult questions head-on. Other children, or even adults, may ask, “”What is on her ears?” “Why does she need those?” Answer simply and honestly. “She has a hearing loss and needs sounds to be louder in order to hear. These hearing aids help her hear better."
- Give people the benefit of the doubt. If someone is looking at my child’s hearing aids, they may not be trying to be rude. They may just be curious. Perhaps they have never seen a baby with hearing aids before (to be fair, I had not myself). Smile at them, or initiate a conversation.
- Love my daughter and enjoy the ride!