Friday we went to the audiologist for Olivia's hearing test. We were running late (shocker I know!) so Josh was speeding a bit. I saw a trooper in the distance and I warned him but it was too late. Sure enough the trooper turned around and came after us. It was 2 minutes until 10:00 and our appointment was at 10:00. However by the grace of God the trooper only gave us a warning ticket! We told him we were on our way to Olivia's appointment at Brenner's and he was very nice. He actually gave us directions and tips on getting there.. he has a 22 month old that gets speech at the exact place.
When we arrived we met the audiologist Rachel, and she started with a tympanogram to check the middle ear function. We saw 2 normal curves just as they should be. I actually do these at school with my school audiologist during our mass hearing screens so I knew what to look for. For the next test the ABR (Automatic Brain Stem Response) Olivia had to be alseep. I changed her and nursed her and finally after fighting sleep for about 10 minutes she gave it up. I held her in my arms for over 2/1/2 hours during the test. I couldn't see the computer from where I was sitting holding her but Josh could. As the test continued I could tell that she was going to have loss just from the time it was taking.. then I glimpsed the audiogram that Rachel was filling out as she was testing and I knew... we were looking at a loss. I texted Josh and told him that I thought Olivia would have a loss because I wanted to prepare him. He texted back that she was responding to the stimuli. As I sat there I started trying to wrap my head around what this would mean for Olivia and for us. I told myself I would not get upset that we could handle this and it wasn't the end of the world. I even told myself that I wouldn't cry or get upset and made up my mind that I would help her, teach her and give her all she needed. If I needed to stay home with her until she started school I would. We would go to Kindermusik class, do language enrich activities daily, I could find aural rehab refresher classes to brush up on my skills and we could get through this.
Then came the results...
Yes, Olivia does have a mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss. For those of you other than my fellow SLP friends, this means it is permanent. Try as I might for all the intentions I had above I did cry. I have been on the other side giving parents results that their child has a language disorder, a speech disorder, a learning disability, low IQ... but I had yet to be on the opposite side where there is something wrong with my child. Every parent wants their child to be perfect. We want them to be the smartest, sweetest, healthiest, strongest, most handsome/beautiful child out there. You know what.. Olivia is still perfect whether she can hear or not... whether she is going to have to wear hearing aids behind her sweet ears or not... no matter what happens she is my perfect baby girl!
Oh it could be soo much worse. We could be looking at childhood cancer, heart disease, an awful syndrome, that horrible condition of EB that poor baby Tripp had. As I sat there wrapping my head around this... I thought about all these things that we were not dealing with and I was thankful to God! I thank God that so far it's a mild to moderate loss and hearing aids will bring the sound up enough for her to hear speech sounds. I thank God that I am a Speech-Language Pathologist and have training to help her develop speech and language. Isn't God good!
Most people have asked, "What caused this?". Well, we don't know. I had a perfect pregnancy and normal delivery. Even her brief 2 hour stay in the NICU wasn't a factor. Josh and I neither one have a family history of hearing loss. We will be doing more tests trying to figure this out.
Olivia was fitted for ear molds and we will go back in several weeks to get her hearing aids and see an ENT as well. For a pair of entry level hearing aids we are looking around $ 3000.00, and they should last 3-5 years. Luckily if our insurance doesn't cover it North Carolina has a grant where the first pair is covered for children under 3. She will have to have new ear molds made every 6 weeks or so because she will grow so much so fast as a baby. She will also have hearing tests as well very often to make sure her hearing isn't changing and so the hearing aids can be set appropriately.
Please pray for our family. Pray that Olivia's hearing will not worsen and that I will have the knowledge and wisdom to know how to help her best. Fellow SLPs if you guys have any knowledge or know of any CEU classes that would help me please let me know. I feel like even though I do have knowledge of hearing loss because Speech and Audiology are sister fields there is a lot I don't know. I haven't had a lot of hearing impaired kids on my caseload over the years. I am very thankful for my sweet daughter and I trust that God knows exactly what He is doing.