When reflecting on the past year of my life I've realized that ears have been a primary theme. Yes, ears. Some of you may know that after a very difficult and traumatic birth and a few years of thinking everything was AOK we found out our middle daughter, Norah, was hard of hearing. What a journey this has been and a loud one at that!
I should mention that she did pass her newborn screening, but has had hearing loss since birth, so while the newborn screening has been very beneficial for some, it isn't perfect, so when it comes to your babies, trust your gut.
In the past year I have spent a lot of time crying, feeling guilty, sad, angry and sometimes downright furious that my child has to wear two hearing aids that are an outward sign of imperfection.
In this society, no matter how evolved with think we are, people notice things like hearing aids. At first I struggled when Norah wanted to wear her hair in ponytails, or buns, and then I realized I was putting my hang-ups on her. Norah wears little golden hearing aids (the part behind her ear) with purple sparkly earmolds (the part that goes in her ear). We also found something great called Tuberiders to help her accessorize even more. She wears her hair up most days because she is very proud of her hearing aids and likes to show them off. While Norah attends an oral school called Northern Voices for deaf and hard of hearing kids, she has recently began attending an early childhood class to help ease her transition to kindergarten next year and I am happy to report several of the children want hearing aids like Norah's!
This past year we have seen more happiness and successes than I ever imagined, and all of our children are developing a tolerance for diversity that I never could have taught them. My husband and I are developing a gratitude and understanding for those that have gone before us to advocate for their children. We are working to advocate for Norah everyday and make the needed changes to our daily lifestyles to accomodate her needs, sometimes small things like a little book light in the car so she can talk to her sister on dark car rides with the assistance of lip reading. I repeat myself a lot for Norah, as we all do, and when we listen to music we really turn it up. We don't have the TV all the time at home, because that causes a distraction for her.
Most of all we've learned to listen. Listen to Norah when she talks, because her language has seen a major explosion this past year, listen to our older daughter when she talks about her day and realize that being Norah's older sister is no easy task, and listen to our little Henry when he points to his ears and says "hearin' aids" and then we all have a laugh. How many 21 month olds can say that?
I will leave you with a list of some famous folks with hearing loss that wear hearing aids.
How many surprise you?
- Ronald Reagan
- Bill Clinton
- Lou Ferrigno - The Incredible Hulk
- Ludwig van Beethoven
- Rush Limbaugh (has a cochlear implant)
- Arnold Palmer
- Thomas Edison
- Mike Singletary - Go Bears!
- Leslie Nielsen
- Al Unser - Race Car Driver
- Bobby Unser - Race Car Driver
- Huey Lewis
- Juliette Low - Founder of Girl Scouts