Then he failed the second test, right before we were discharged from the hospital. My mom was there, and she cried. So that made me cry. But really, I was so submerged in the postpartum haze, all I had the capacity to think about was keeping my baby fed and warm.
We had an official ABR with an audiologist a few weeks after Noah was born. They were able to fully test the left ear before he got too fussy to continue, but so far he was indeed hearing impaired. So a week later, we paid another co-pay to get the right ear tested, found out that the right ear was the same as the left ear, and ordered hearing aids then and there. By the time we got home with our sweet baby after that appointment, I was mostly worried about where the heck the money was going to come from, and a little bitter that my friends didn't have these healthcare costs.
|tiny baby sleeping during his first ABR|
|second ABR and making his ear mold impressions|
The NICU nurse in me takes a step outside my own bubble and thinks of all the horrific, awful, sad things she's seen and knows in an instant that hearing impairment is pretty darn low on the he's just a baby and it's not fair spectrum.
But you know what? In my world, in my life, it's still sad. It's a deviation from normal. It's a loss of its own kind. Even though hearing impairment has a heavy hand in my family's gene pool, even though I myself grew up with hearing loss, I was somehow still surprised and sad when I learned I'd officially passed it on to my son. I felt like I'd failed. Like I given him my biggest weakness... the one thing you don't want your kids to inherit.
I had the healthiest darn pregnancy, and I don't take a minute of that for granted. I took the vitamins, I went to the checkups, I ate less dessert, I worked out. At the end of the day, while I liked to think that I could control the outcome, I couldn't. I had a wonderful pregnancy and delivery, and a beautiful, perfect baby for a few days until someone told me that my baby was flawed and abnormal because he couldn't hear well without help. Is that dramatic? Sure. Is it how I felt? Absolutely.
So we ordered the hearing aids and I finally cried. There are so many options now compared to when I was a kid: colors, neon, sparkles... but I wanted the most neutral color for Noah. I cried because, what if people stopped looking at his big blue eyes and his gummy smile, and all they saw was the plastic in his ears? I wanted the hearing aids to be invisible as possible. I didn't want people to think my son was "special." (Why am I so afraid of that? How would I feel if he did start to display a mental handicap down the line? That's a whole different issue I'm trying to sort through, because I am starting to see that I fear the abnormal and unknown much more than I thought.)
|4 months old in hearing aids|
I couldn't help but admit that this was very obviously the best thing for him, but that doesn't mean that, nine months after his diagnosis, I'm not still struggling with it.