Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Our newest addition, a little BOY!!!

David Ryan
8 pounds, 14 ounces
Needless to say, he has captured our hearts and we are in love! Everyone is adjusting quite well as a new family of four and Sophie is a great big sister. She wants to hold and kiss him constantly and help with everything having to do with her new little brother.
Unlike his big sister, David can hear. While most people are delighted when we share this news, it is extremely bittersweet to me. For many reasons, this feeling is hard to explain and I think only a fellow hearing loss mom may fully understand. To me, Sophie is absolutely perfect and such a special little girl. Some may consider her deafness a flaw or a burden, but I think it makes her even more amazing. Although we feel a bit of relief that David's early years will not be spent juggling therapy appointments, it feels wrong to rejoice that he lacks the trait making Sophie so special to us. Also, a part of me would like her to have someone to share her struggles with as she gets older - someone who understands what it is like to be deaf. I know that one day soon she will ask me about David's ears and wonder if he will also be getting implants. These questions are easy to answer now because she is only three, but I know they will become harder in the future.
One thing I am certain of as a type this update - I will love and treasure both of these kiddos with all of my heart for the rest of my life. They are both special and I know they will encounter individual and unique struggles, hearing or not.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A graduate?! Already?

Yes, folks - it's true. On Friday, Sophie GRADUATED from the Moog Center for Deaf Education. Quite an accomplishment for a profoundly deaf child who just recently turned three years old. While we are over-the-moon excited, happy, and proud, it was also a sad day to close this chapter of our journey.

I'll never forget my first conversation with the director of the Moog Center. She contacted me just two days after we learned that Sophie is deaf. I was still grieving - in a mixed state of panic, confusion, and shock. What I remember most about our conversation is that she was so incredibly confident that Sophie would be okay.  She gave me the straight-forward facts about hearing loss and the potential causes, summarized the cochlear implant process and timeline, and told me about their intensive oral program. At one point, I remember her matter-of-factly saying, "Oh yeah, there is a great chance Sophie can be mainstreamed by kindergarten." That statement gave me instant hope and was the very faint glimmer of light that I needed to snap out of my sad, gloomy haze and take action. Up until that point, when I envisioned Sophie's future, I could only think of a world of special education, interpreters, and limitations. I had already researched a bit about cochlear implants, but I was still naive and ignorant to what a diagnosis of profound hearing loss meant for Sophie.

The next day was our first visit to the Moog Center. It was surreal. As we pushed our tiny baby girl through the halls and classrooms in her stroller, I remember thinking, "Wow, they really weren't kidding. These kids can talk!" But that wasn't even the best part of the visit. After being scared, helpless, and overwhelmed, I just felt normal while we were there. It was as though the hurricane had stopped pounding and the debris was starting to settle all around me. Like I could envision a new path and future that I so recently was unsure of.

After our visit, I was pretty much sold. We visited another oral school in the St. Louis area as well, but there was no comparison to the feelings of hope and support that the Moog Center gave us. In the past three years, this amazing school has been by our side constantly - providing encouragement and support every step along the way. The staff, audiologists, and teachers are more to us than the professionals that have guided Sophie's success, they are forever a part of her journey and our family.

So here we are now, saying goodbye. Obviously, this transition is happening much sooner than we anticipated and I still cannot believe Sophie is being mainstreamed two years earlier than our original goal. While I'm nervous and anxious, I'm confident that Sophie's time at Moog has equipped her for a regular classroom on a full time basis. She is such a bright girl and has amazed us each and every step of the way so far. At this point, I can't wait to see what else she has in store for us. ;)

How fast her time at Moog has gone by:

First day of Moog - 17 months old

Last day of Moog - 3 years old

Here are a few more pictures of Sophie's big day:

Singing with her class

All alone on stage - brave girl!

Sophie and the other graduates

We love Moog!

Such a bittersweet day

The first of many amazing achievements for this girl

My dad also filmed Sophie being "interviewed" during graduation. All of the children leaving the Moog Center take the stage to tell their story and this is always a very emotional part of the program, as many families have moved across the country and completely started new lives to attend school here. Obviously, Sophie is a little young to be able to share her story, but she took the stage and it was pretty cute. I could tell she was nervous and I was quite surprised she spoke at all in front of that many people!

Let's hope that habit of pulling up her dress when nervous doesn't continue for too long! ;)

Anyway, we are on to a new chapter soon. We are so proud and can't wait to see what preschool holds for Sophie. Although we are sad to be leaving Moog, everyone there assures us that she is ready and will do great. Here's to new adventures!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Constant entertainment

There isn't much point to this video I'm posting below, other than the fact that it makes me smile and could be a source of instant embarrassment 10 years from now. I've found that one of the great things about parenting a three year old is that my life is filled with senseless humor! Sophie is a constant goofball nowadays, always acting silly and trying to play tricks. I love it!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday!!!

Sophie turned three last week and we had fun celebrating for days! We were also hit with over a foot of snow, so her birthday party had to be postponed a few days, but we had a great time anyway. Here are a few pictures from the festivities:

Excited to take birthday treats to school!

Circus fun! The fireman clown wears implants, too!


Birthday party!

A great addition to her new room!


Sugar rush

So proud to be three!

I can't believe we have a three-year-old on our hands now. These days are certainly fun, though! Sophie is learning new things at a rapid pace and I feel like I can hardly keep up with her.

Happy 3rd Birthday to my sweet girl! I am so proud of you!!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

No IEP for this girl

Since Sophie was born, she has been receiving services through the First Steps program through our state. First Steps is an early intervention program that provides services to children (and their families) from birth to age three. When she was diagnosed with profound hearing loss, we automatically qualified for this program because deafness is considered a developmental disability.

At age three, the First Steps program ends and children that continue to need services are placed on an IEP (individualized education program) through their local school district. In children with hearing loss, this usually means that the district will provide a teacher of the deaf, ongoing speech therapy, or cover schooling at an oral deaf school if the district cannot accommodate the child.

When Sophie was a baby, I had researched a lot about this transition process, talked to other parents, and generally just assumed she would automatically qualify for services through our school district because she is deaf. Well, I was wrong. ;) Sophie's speech and language development was evaluated a couple of months ago by our school district in preparation for the IEP process. Before the district can determine eligibility, they must first evaluate each child to determine where they are at developmentally.

Because we have no other concerns with Sophie's development (academically, socially, physically, etc...), she was only evaluated on her speech and language abilities. The evaluation itself was SEVERAL hours long and had to be completed on two separate days. I was pretty emotional and anxious about the results and looking back, I still can't quite pinpoint why I was such a nervous wreck about it. I think much of it had to do with feeling as though all of our time, effort, hard work, and tears for the past three years were leading up to this judgment of whether or not our child qualified for special services because she exhibits a language delay.

Anyway, it suffices to say that Sophie does not qualify for services through our school district, so we will not be going down the IEP road. In fact, I can confidently say that her language abilities blew the school district away and it was hard for them to fathom that a deaf child could speak so well and demonstrate the advanced language and communication concepts that Sophie does.

To give an idea, a couple of the formal tests that were administered included the Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation (GFTA-2) and the Preschool Language Scale 5 (PLS-5). On the GFTA-2, Sophie's score fell into the 92nd percentile, meaning that she performed better than 92% of typical hearing children in her age range. Her test-age equivalent shows that she performed similarly to a child who is 4 years and 7 months of age (she was tested at 2 years, 9 months)! Her total score on the PLS-5 was in the 99th percentile, indicating she performed better than 99% of hearing children in her age range.

Similar to the ABR testing and meeting informing us that Sophie is deaf, this meeting with the school district was very surreal to me. As they were going over the test results and telling me that my child is a phenomenon, I just kept thinking that it had to be a dream. I know that Sophie is incredibly smart and her language development is on track, but I still just kept wondering, "how is it possible that a deaf child can score this high on these tests?!" As the meeting went on, I continued to sit there and wonder when they were going to break the news to me, to tell me where they have major areas of concerns, where her delays are, etc... But it never came. The conclusion was that Sophie's progress has been simply amazing.

Needless so say, I felt like I was floating as I was leaving the meeting and for the rest of that day I was on cloud nine. There are many reasons behind her success such as early intervention, advocating hard for early implant surgery, dedication, and most importantly, the incredible audiology team, staff, and teachers at the Moog Center. Whatever the reason, the feeling of success and amount of pride I have is immense.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Halfway there!

I don't know if it's because we are busy keeping up with a toddler this time around, but this pregnancy has absolutely flown by! We only have about four more months until we welcome this little one. Thankfully, Sophie has been getting pretty excited for the new arrival. It took some convincing at first, but she is really looking forward to becoming a big sister.

Striking a pose with Mommy - 20 weeks!

Helping Daddy get her big girl room ready
We aren't finding out the gender, but Sophie is convinced she will be getting a little sister. We'll see - she may have a big surprise coming in a few months! Anyway, one of the cute things she has been talking about lately is all of the things she will teach her brother or sister. One of my favorites has been, "When our baby comes out, I'm going to teach her to talk!" Amen to that, girlfriend! And this baby is lucky to have the best language model we could ask for. :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

An amazing year

Yesterday, we celebrated Sophie's second hearing birthday. I can hardly believe it has been two years since her implants we activated! The time has gone by fast, but she has accomplished so much in these short two years and I honestly cannot believe how much progress she had made.

If I had to describe this past year, I'm pretty sure I could do so with one word. Normalcy. I remember speaking to several moms when Sophie was just diagnosed and many of them had deaf children who were a bit older. They told me that eventually I will stop feeling overwhelmed and like my life was turned upside down. And I'll admit - the first year was HARD. We were still learning to be parents, but also learning to be a part of this new world that was absolutely foreign to us. Hearing aids, speech therapy, preparing for implant surgery, and constant worry about the future. The second year was exciting, but also very difficult. Sophie had been implanted and we were working with her each and every day to grow her vocabulary and language skills. It was a fun time as we celebrated each milestone with great enthusiasm, but I still felt a lot of pressure and was worried about the future. This past year has honestly been a breeze and I totally understand what those wise moms were telling me in the beginning of our journey. We have this down. I hardly think twice about Sophie being deaf. She is just a typical toddler that hears differently than most people do. This year has shown me that I have no reason to worry about the future anymore. She is already a success and not even three years old! We have a incredibly smart little girl who is going to do great things in this world and I can't wait to watch her.

Anyway, we have definitely returned to normalcy. The weight of worry being lifted off my shoulders has been exhilarating. I know I will always worry a little as Sophie faces new changes and challenges, but nothing like the beginning of this journey where even the little things were uncertain. We are in such a great place right now and feel like we can move forward with life - especially with welcoming a second child later this year! ;)

While we will always celebrate Sophie's hearing birthday, I feel like this one was extra special because it marked this turning point for us. Who knows what the next year will bring!

Happy 2nd Hearing Birthday, Sophie!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

BIG News for 2013!!!

Sophie has quite the secret that she has been anxious to share:

What an exciting year 2013 will be! We are expecting baby number two at the beginning of July and couldn't be more thrilled. :)

 Happy New Year, everyone!!!