Baby... can you hear me? Part 1
August 26, 2010- My husband, Matt, and I welcomed our second son Wyatt Oliver into our family. He was born via scheduled repeat C-section with no complications. Weighing in at 9lbs 7oz and 21 inches long, complete with ten fingers, ten toes and a head dark hair, he was absolutely perfect. Afterschool that day, our 5 yr. old son Ryan, joined up with us at the hospital and immediately fell in love with his new brother. Friends, family, doctors and nurses were in and out over the next couple days, as I was recovering. Everyone that came to see us, made the same comments… “Wyatt is just the best baby.” “He never cries.” “He is so alert, and so quiet.” The nickname, “Quiet Wyatt”, quickly stuck with the little guy. Matt and I marveled at our soft spoken, good natured, little miracle. What a blessing to have such a calm and sweet little baby… but little did we know, that it was more than just a personality trait.
On day #2 in the hospital, a nurse came in to do her normal checks on Wyatt and me. After accessing us, she picked up Wyatt and said to him, “Well, we better go try that hearing test again, since you can’t seem to pass it”. Then she whisked him off to the nursery and I sat there completely bewildered. Did I hear her correctly? He didn’t pass his hearing test? What hearing test? I wasn’t aware that they performed hearing tests on newborns. What did she mean?
It seemed like an hour before they returned. When she did, she came with a concerned look and informed us that he failed the test despite their multiple attempts, and that the hearing test was part of a newborn screening process (the ‘blood spots’, another series of tests that I was completely unaware of). According to the test, he was not responding to any sounds. However, not to worry because a lot of C-section babies do not pass and they would try again the next day.
Over our remaining 3 days in the hospital, they continued to test him, but the results remained the same. When we prepared to go home a nurse explained that a “referral” on the hearing screening can occur due to an actual hearing loss or a blockage/fluid in the infant’s ears. She told us that, regardless of the reason why Wyatt wasn’t passing, sound was not getting in his ears and that he wasn’t hearing. A thousand emotions and questions flooded me. Did this really mean that I had a DEAF child? We didn’t have any family history. There was no trauma in delivery. I followed all the rules and had a completely healthy pregnancy. This couldn’t be true. But if it was…What was I supposed to do with a child that couldn’t hear me?
Our pediatrician reassured us that this supposed loss was temporary. That it was most likely a false positive due to fluid in his ears and scheduled an appointment to do another test in 1 week. Trusting in our pediatrician, I carried on through the next week, in “new baby routine,” as any new mom would. A week later, we went to the hearing test appointment and yet again, the results were the same. That was when everything became real to me. All of a sudden our happy healthy baby, in my eyes, turned into a foreigner that I could not relate to. Regretfully, I began not singing to him, or even telling him that I loved him as I tucked him in at night. I just looked at him and wondered… “Baby… can you hear me?” Matt, as well as the grandparents, also felt the strange disconnect/detachment. We had no idea how to take care for a baby that couldn’t hear and the professionals offered us very little support. They lacked the education to be able to pass it on to us, and remained that it was most likely nothing to worry about. Thus, we sat in limbo, waiting anxiously to get a true diagnosis and to get direction on how to approach this new life that we were being faced with. This left us with the question, “What is the benefit of this newborn screening hearing test, if it only raised questions that we couldn’t get answers for?”
Part II of Amanda's story will be posted here next Thursday. Check back then to find out what happens!