It was one year ago today that Jared and I found out Sophie is deaf. The worst day of my life. We sat in the sound booth, staring at our tiny, perfect newborn, and agonized as the ABR was performed. We were on edge, barely breathing as we looked for the slightest reaction to sound from our baby – a deep breath, toe flex, eyebrow wrinkle… Nothing… The minutes rolled by and the sounds coming from the miniature earphones grew louder and louder and I knew it had to be roaring in her ears. Yet Sophie slept, peacefully and soundly, not even the slightest stir. Reality began to sink in and every ounce of optimism we were hanging onto vanished into thin air.
I don’t remember much about our conversation with the audiologist, because I was clinging to my deaf baby, sobbing and devastated. I couldn’t bring myself to meet Jared’s teary gaze because I was afraid my heart would break even further. A tsunami had come through and instantly wiped out my dreams - every hope, plan, idea – it was all gone. The bliss of being a new mom was shattered and I was robbed of happiness. Our future was uncertain and I had no idea what to do. I felt lost… angry… cheated… and overcome with grief.
Somehow we left the hospital and drove home that day. I had to call and tell my parents, which was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I can still hear the sound of my mom weeping as I choked out the words. I know the news destroyed their world just as it had ours and they were equally as devastated. It was different for them - not only were they heartbroken for their grandchild, but for their children as well. I went to bed that night not wanting to wake up and face the reality of the next morning.
And now here we are today. Oh, how far we’ve come! We have a bright little toddler who knows more vocabulary than most hearing kids her same age. We have a little girl who listens and cooperates when we say things like, “Bring me your shoe” or “Go get a book”. We have a little rock star who loves to play the guitar and keyboard with her daddy and shakes her booty to the music. J One thing I do recall from that horrid day is being told that things are different now and Sophie would most likely get a cochlear implant. At the time, I knew little about CIs and had absolutely no idea what impact the technology would have on our lives. If I could have gotten a glimpse of our life today, it would have eased my pain and heartache and made those early days much more livable.
Although a year has passed, every time I think back to this day, my stomach sinks and my eyes tear up. All of the emotions come rushing back and the feeling of hopelessness encompasses me once again. I can’t help but wonder if I will always feel this way. Time heals all wounds? Maybe. I hope so.
I understand now that we were not hit with a tsunami. That is what it felt like in the moment, but I realize how lucky we are. The impact was actually closer to a smaller surface wave that came in fast and knocked us over. We lost our balance initially and will have to take a different path because there are some hurdles in the way. But we will still get to the same destination and be stronger in the end. I left the hospital that day hopeless, defeated, and changed forever. Over the past year, I feel as though I have experienced a decade’s worth of ups and downs and life lessons. I have slowly evolved into a different person that I may have never become on my own. And although it may have been the worst day of my life, I truly appreciate it.