Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On Going with your Gut

Having a kid with cochlear implants can be challenging. I'm kind of understating that, but I never want to make it sound too intense, because I know that there are so many people out there taking care of kids who make Seth's issues look like a walk in the park. Nevertheless, though, having a son who is reliant on electronic equipment to hear anything at all...and said son being 26 months old and a very rough, very tumble, very boyish boy...well, it can be challenging. Seth breaks things. Seth causes things to be broken. Seth is stubborn and refuses to hold conversations. He talks when he wants, and we'd better listen because you never, ever know when the next opportunity will come around. Since he is so selective with his speech, on my more neurotic days I also wonder what he is hearing, whether he is missing out, whether I'm doing the right thing by mainstreaming him...the what if's are endless.

Especially for someone who overanalyzes like it's her job.

So much of the past two years and two months has been full of hard decisions and the day to day slog of raising a child with hearing loss in a hearing world. I have been second guessed and my choices have been strongly questioned. I have been told I was making the wrong choices, that I was too aggressive or that I was not aggressive enough, that I talked too much, and that I talked too little, that I was expecting too much of him, or that I was not expecting enough of him.

It's enough to make your head spin.

All I have been able to do, in the end, is do what feels right. I can't always explain it, and sometimes the decisions don't seem to make sense, but I go with my gut anyway. For me, that was pushing for a second hearing screening when everyone else was convinced he could hear just fine. It was pushing for a bigger surgery faster, and when our surgeons weren't into it, finding new ones. It was making the choice to learn ASL in case we needed a plan B, but never to sign a word to Seth. It was following my gut this summer and pulling Seth out of therapy for a month of R and R when everyone else was saying we had to hit it harder. It was signing him up for mainstream preschool when he was so clingy I couldn't even leave him at church. It was making the choice to always treat him like he could hear me, even before he could.

Any one of those choices could have ended disastrously. If they had, I'd be kicking myself for sure. But they didn't, and because of that I've learned that I really do know Seth better than anyone else, and I know what he needs, even when it doesn't seem to make sense, even when I'm the only one on my side of the fence. It's scary when we're going through a rough patch...I start to question all the decisions I've made.

But oh, the good times when Seth falls into a groove? Oh, man, is it heaven.

We're in heaven right now.

Kind of, at least. Seth is now happily wearing his ears all day long. Even in the car, which is a HUGE step. In fact, when we're in the car and one of his head pieces comes off, the kids loses it. Completely. Screaming, wailing, "Momeeeee!" yelling fit, until I manage to stop and fix his ear. He wants to hear that bad. So bad that he can't stand to wait until a red light for his head piece to get put back on. It's simultaneously incredibly fulfilling and annoying.

At school the other day, he walked in, put his backpack away, kissed me, then ran off to play without ever looking back. When I picked him up he was grinning from ear to ear. He loves school. He has not taken off his processors one single time at school, ever. He loves it, and his teacher gave him the biggest compliment in the entire world the other day...we were talking about Seth, and I asked how he was hearing and talking. "There is no difference between him and any of the other kids in the class...except that he actually listens better than most of them." Seth blends right in with a class of typical two year olds. This is a mainstream preschool, that has no other kids with any special needs. I almost started crying right there.

Seeing Seth show others that a child with cochlear implants can function very similarly to a hearing child is so amazing to watch. The other day I was sitting in carline, and I saw the teachers all exclaiming over something. As one of them brought him to the car, she asked me if I heard what they had been saying. When I told her no, she explained to me that Seth had been lined up with the entire school...about fifty kids or so. It was super loud in the hallway and he was about halfway back in the crowd, yet when the teacher at the door saw me pull up and called his name, he immediately grabbed his bag and headed to the door. "We knew he could hear with his implants, but we never knew he could hear like that!" She exclaimed. "It's amazing!"

And it is. Sometimes I forget how amazing it is, because it's our every day life. But seeing him surprise other people like that opens my eyes to just how amazing a ride we're on, and I can't wait to see what else he can do.

I'll even put up with the ridiculous screaming in the car because I love that he wants to hear badly enough to scream about it. And we'll keep on going with our guy over here.

And just so you guys can see what I mean, here is a video of the boy in the car. (Don't worry...we were NOT driving at the time!)

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