January 25, 2012. An important date in our lives. It has been one year. One year since Dr. Roland performed bilateral cochlear implant surgery on our 7 month old daughter. I’d be lying if I told you I knew what to expect in those next 12 months. Brian and I were confident that we made the right decision – to go ahead with spoken language – but what would transpire afterwards was going to be a mystery.
The next few months were like a blur…therapy, mappings, music classes, gym classes, story times, etc. Madison had a very busy schedule, and we are blessed to have so many amazing people in her life – that truly care about her well-being.
I can’t tell you when Madison started ‘talking’ as her listening (and then comprehension) happened first. Madison’s first word was definitely “Al” (our dog is Alan) and she would say “Ah” and point to her best friend. Words then started to trickle in – “ma” then “mama” and “da” and “dada”.
Brian and I had a meeting at CHC with her therapist, Kaitlyn, and the director, Lois, in the beginning of November to discuss Madison’s progress and review her upcoming goals. We were asked to bring a list of words/phrases that Madison understands and words that Madison says. We spent a good week or two compiling the list… Just when we thought we had completed the list, a few new words would come out of her little mouth. Our ‘final’ list consisted of over 125 words that she understood and over 60 words that she actually says! We were amazed. The feedback from the meeting was positive… Madison was meeting and exceeding their expectations. They continued to stress the importance of exposing her to as much language as possible – read books to her, narrate our day and just TALK. We were told the goal for the next 6 months would be for Madison to combine two words (action and a noun – ie “baby down”) by the time she was two years old. At the time, it seemed like a stretch…
The three of us took a vacation over Thanksgiving to Argentina, and Madison saw mountains for the first time. Within a day, Madison was saying “mohnt-mohnt.” It was adorable, but at the same time we were amazed how in just a matter of hours she was trying to describe something she has never ever seen before. Looking back, we feel that this was the beginning of her ‘language explosion.’ Typical hearing children often go through this phase around the 18-month mark. This is where a child will start saying or imitating new words every day. I remember being told that children with a hearing loss usually don’t have a ‘language explosion’. Every time a new word would blurt of her mouth it just made my heart melt.
After returning from our travels, Madison’s therapists then began to work on two words – “Put On/Take Off”…and my favorite “Al Move.” Then, exactly 1 year from her surgery she uttered a three-word sentence, “I want more.” We even have the footage to share! The pronunciation needs work, but we are just so proud of her progress.
Madison has quickly started staying 2 and 3 word phrases around the house over the past couple of weeks. She is starting to combine words left and right. Than, in music class past Saturday, she said “I want to play” as she was pointing towards a trombone the instructor was playing. The mother next to me said, “Wow, that’s advanced.” I just looked at Madison and smiled.