Monday, May 21, 2012

Do you hear what I hear?

I get a lot of emails asking me about Harper and her hearing.  A lot of you ask me how I knew or when I knew something might be wrong. Or about how to get her to wear hearing aids.  I'm glad to share about our journey but I also love having a record of it on here. I use this blog so much to go back and look at things that have happened in our lives or to remember things about the girls so I want to write things down so in 10 or 20 years we can remember how God worked through this.

If any of you ever have any questions of if I can help encourage you in any way if you DO have a child who might have hearing loss - I believe God has just given me one more avenue to do so. I don't have all the answers - I'm learning - but I'd love to share.  I know I'm terrible with email but I'm trying hard to get caught up!

When Harper was 18 months old I noticed she said few words and also didn't mimic sounds. It concerned me so I mentioned it to her ENT doctor. She had tubes when she was about 15 months old.  The doctor said to wait until she was two and we would test her. So right before she turned two I took her in and they tested her.  They were concerned and we ended up going back the next week and again she didn't do well. And I won't lie - they mentioned hearing aids that day and I was in shock and I sat in my car and bawled my eyes out. At first - it was hard to hear. But since that day I don't struggle too much. I worry a lot about if kids will make fun of her in school or if kids will be mean to her - but I think every mom does.

Now testing a 2 year old is tough because it's hard to tell if they can't hear or they just aren't paying attention.  So they sent us to Arkansas Children's to be tested. This was in the winter and we made an appointment and the day we were to go it came a huge ice storm. So we rescheduled and the day we were to go again it snowed a foot. We live 3.5 hours from ACH so we couldn't drive in that plus I was 8 months pregnant. So we decided to wait until after Hollis came.

So one year ago - in May - we went to ACH and they tested her and she tested for hearing loss. But to be completely sure because of her age we decided to do a test where they put her under and testing her brain waves to be completely accurate. We went back in June and did this.  It was a long test but she did great.  They determined she had moderate to sloping hearing loss and it was due to her NICU stay.  The drugs that kept her alive when she was a newborn and saved her life were the cause.  A little hearing loss is nothing compared to not having her here!

In July - we went back and she got her first set of hearing aids. She was 2.5 and I'm not going to lie - I honestly couldn't imagine her EVER wearing the aids full time. It's hard to get a 2.5 year old to wear shoes much less hearing aids. I started off slowly and didn't want to push her or make it a battle so she wore them an hour or two a day.  It didn't go well at all at first.

In October we started speech therapy.  I begin to see Harper's speech improve. In February or March - something clicked and Harper finally began to wear her aids full time. She even asks for them.  I can't tell you what happened other than prayer and maybe she realized how much better she could hear.  For a while it was stressful because she took them out everywhere - she would throw them down at home and I'd have to search for them. She would take them out the minute she got to school or church.  Now she always keeps them in and it's honestly not a battle at all.  I'm SO thankful! I never thought we would reach this point.

Last month after six months of speech - they re-tested her and she tested normal for language. So they dismissed her from the program and we are to re-test in six months.  We had been doing listening based speech special for hearing loss children.  Scott and I felt very strongly that she needed to continue in speech because she still has a way to go and we know that this is a critical stage to get her language worked on.

God is in the details because I had no idea what to do and really prayed about it. What an ENORMOUS blessing that the woman who coordinates everything for hearing impaired kids for out town's school district goes to our church! I contacted her and she put me in touch with a private therapist. And when I called the therapist - she told me she actually reads my blog and had emailed me a few times in the past to encourage me!!! Seriously - wow! And the details for our new speech therapy have been so amazing. She had a slot exactly when we needed to go and this fall will be able to work through Harper's preschool to do speech so I won't have to find a sitter for Hollis or drive to Fayetteville and she was so kind. I have been so tearful because we have had a HUGE answer to prayer!

Hearing loss is SO minor compared to what so many kids and families face. However - when it is your child - anything that is an obstacle is BIG.  I think it's all in the attitude of how you are going to face it.  We don't believe this will ever keep Harper from doing anything she wants to do. And we think God is going to use this to do big things in her life.

I share because I want to encourage anyone who might be facing something similar.  I hope I can be an encouragement.  Harper's whole life has been a constant reminder that God is in control and that He can use any circumstance to show His glory.

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