July 26, 2011… is a day that Brian and I will never forget. The way we view the world was going to change before us. It was exactly one year ago today we were told Madison has a profound hearing loss. The absolute WORST day of my life. When I think back to that day, my stomach turns, my throat starts to close up and my eyes start to tear…. I wonder at times if these feelings will always remain a part of me when I reflect.
It was a sunny day, bright blue sky above and a warm summer breeze in the air… we headed off to Cornell for Madison’s diagnostic ABR testing. My mother joined Brian and I for the appointment. The three of us sat in a small dark room with the audiologist. Earphones were placed into Madison’s tiny ears and stickers were placed on her forehead. Madison was in a deep sleep and did not flinch the entire time we were in the room. We were happy that she was so well behaved… but deep down inside we knew that something was not right. We were clinging onto every moment of hope. Little eye contact was made between Brian, myself or my mother – we all had our eyes glued onto our beautiful little girl…. Waiting for Madison to make a reaction to the sounds being pumped into the earphones. A flinch, sigh, deep breath? Nothing. The sounds continued to get louder and louder to the point where we were able to hear them ourselves. Yet Madison continued to stay sound asleep. All of our hope had completely vanished. It was only a matter of time until everything truly became a reality. The audiologist told us that she would be able to meet with us in 45 minutes for the results. We were glad that we didn’t have to come back the following day. We strolled along the streets of the upper east side in Manhattan, there was little conversation… I think all of us had the same thoughts going through our heads.
We arrived back to the office, which was down the block from where we went for the actual testing. The audiologist greeted us and took us down a few hallways than brought us into a tiny room with a circular table and three chairs. There were three tissue boxes spaced out across the table. I broke down in tears and sobbed before any words were exchanged. I wasn’t able to make any eye contact with Brian or my mother. All of us were sitting in our chairs crying. My heart was broken and new motherhood bliss had quickly vanished. It felt as if Brian and I were pushed out to sea on a tiny wooden boat (with Madison in our arms) – leaving a sunny, white-sanded beach with calm waves – headed towards a deep, dark storm – with no option to turn around.
When I reflect on this day, I often think about what was said during this meeting. I honestly do not remember any specifics. I remember being told that your daughter has profound hearing loss. I remember the audiologist showing us a chart of where most people hear, and Madison’s hearing was nowhere; nonexistent. I know that we asked a few questions – what were they, well I don’t recall exactly, but I remember that the audiologist answered ‘no’ to all of them. I recall her saying that many children with hearing loss develop speech equivalent to their hearing peers with things like “hearing aids” and “cochlear implants”.
I have learned more this past year than I have in the 30 years of my existence. This journey has taught me more about life than I ever knew. Because of it, I believe I am a stronger person. Do I have days where I sit and sulk? I would be lying if I said no. But each day things DO get better… and it DOES get easier. Madison continues to amaze me and I am blessed to be the mother of such a smart, loving, beautiful little girl! Madison is doing very well in therapy and I am confident that she will continue to achieve all milestones that are expected in the coming months. We have been told that her language (both receptive & expressive) is at that of a “normal” 12 month old child. Some of Madison’s first words include “Alan”, “Mama”, “Dada”, “Milk”, “More” and “Up”. She probably understands about 35-40 words by now. Not bad considering Madison has only been hearing for 5 and a half months! I am so excited with the progress Madison is making and can not wait to see what the rest of the year brings.