Hear Ye, Hear Ye

You can get hearing aids with zebra stripes these days or leopard print. Laylee’s got her heart set on a dainty set with pink flowers. They’re small like her ears and hopefully won’t fall out when she’s running around the back yard or playing tag at school.

sweet-girlI told her they’re like glasses for her ears, that even though she can hear fine now, she’ll have SUPER-HERO ear power when she gets her new ear jewelry. I told her she was lucky to get them. I didn’t tell her it was no big deal because telling her that implies that her hearing loss might be a big deal and I never want her to think that. But it’s sure a big deal to me in this moment.

This morning I drove her to a hearing and speech clinic to have her ears checked. We’ve noticed some problems and the more I’ve looked the more problems I’ve noticed. I tried to tell myself I was imagining things. It took some coaxing from my next door neighbor before I took her in to get tested.

Her preschool report card listed her as advanced in nearly every way. The only areas where she was “satisfactory” were things like “needs repeated teacher directions,” “displays listening skills” and “easily distracted,” things that could be easily explained if she were having trouble hearing. I can stand behind her and talk about ice cream in a loud whisper and she has no idea I’m saying anything. When I call to her from a distance, it seems like she’s ignoring me.

The doctor put a camera in her ears and projected the image on a large monitor. Aside from a stray “ear whack” or two, they looked lovely. He said there was no damage from the gazillion ear infections she’s had. Good news.

Then into the booth we went. The doctor said I could stay with her if Magoo and I could stay quiet. Ahem. Yeah. So we stayed in the booth for a few… seconds before he came back in. For some reason Magoo’s constant seemingly-involuntary whispers ruined the effect of the sound-proof booth and we were kindly asked to leave. Laylee was nervous to be alone but she hung in like a trooper while we waited in the lobby for some news. Magoo asked me to read star dating news to him from an old People Magazine. Before we even found out if John-ifer would live happily ever after, the doctor came back and took us into an exam room.

He was sweet and had a good bedside manner but he also spends all day doing this and seemed very casual about the news he delivered. She has some hearing loss which makes it impossible to hear certain frequencies at certain volumes. What she’s missing are consonants so what she hears when someone talks softly or from far away is a jumble of vowels that mean nothing to her.

“Is it something she’ll outgrow?”

“Oh no. It’s permanent…. [something about hearing aids.]”

“Was it caused by her ear infections?”

“No… [something about nerves being dead and a special microphone her teacher will need to use when she starts kindergarten next year.]”


“With these diagnoses, we always recommend a second opinion so you can schedule that at the same time as your hearing aid consultation.”

Because I am the best mom in the world, I was able to freeze my face into a grin to avoid squeezing anything near the eye area, which would likely have let forth the blast of weepage building in my throat. I stayed cool and Laylee was unaffected by the news, possibly because she did not hear the news.

So the new hearing aids do look cool… for hearing aids… but I’m conflicted. They’re not really like glasses, not completely. You do not see kids all over with hearing aids the way you do with glasses. I want to ask the doctor if Laylee has to wear them all the time and I picture him responding, “Um… only when she wants to hear well.” Even wanting to ask that question makes me feel like a bad mom, too concerned with appearances like the mean aunt on Anne of Avonlea who never lets her niece wear those “ridiculous spectacles” even though she’s practically blind without them.

Of course I want her to hear well but I don’t want her to feel self-conscious. It will shred my heart if I have to watch her confidence wither, to realize there’s something different about her and start to think it’s a bad thing. I will not allow it.

I have so many questions I was too shocked to think to ask until after I left the office. Is it degenerative? Will she continue to lose hearing? Are there any other options for treatment? What COULD have caused this if it wasn’t the ear infections? All afternoon my brain has conjured up images of loud concerts we’ve attended, fireworks displays, times she put on my head phones with the sound turned all the way up. How could I have protected her better?

I keep thinking of times I scolded her for not paying attention or coming when I called her. I want to squeeze her and never let go, to buy her ridiculous things we don’t have the money for that wouldn’t help anything. I feel guilty for joking around in this post, a post which seems cruel and in horribly poor taste at this point.

But at least the doctor seems to think I’m a good mom. He said he was impressed that we were paying close enough attention to catch it. This type of hearing loss can often be misunderstood as a lack of attention or inability to listen to instructions.

I really am glad we did and that we can help Laylee to be more successful. I’m grateful that we have the means and the technology to help fix what’s broken. I just always wish my children would have perfect lives or at least that I could choose their trials. Maybe Magoo could have a mean friend in 2nd grade who taunts him for a couple of weeks to teach him humility and then moves to Siberia so Magoo can get on with his life. For Laylee I might wish bad hair or an inability to learn the Cha-Cha well enough to compete on an international level.

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61 Responses to Hear Ye, Hear Ye

  1. kate says:

    One good thing about this situation is that because of you Laylee has absolutely no self confidence issues about her hearing aids.

    Kids are mean they will make fun of you for everything, your hair, your nose, the weight or lack of weight on your body, glasses, braces. You can not prevent those things but you give your kids confidence by reinforcing that everyone has their own unique qualities and that for no reason should she feel bad for her hair, glasses, or hearing aids as it may be.

    She is a wonderful girl with wonderful parents she will be just fine.

    Hang in there.

  2. Not Too Pensive says:

    What other posters have pointed out is 100% true: glasses or head gear? NERD ALERT! Hearing aids? AWESOME!

    The elementary school I attended was the one set aside for deaf children to attend, and I mixed with them and, well, attempted to communicate with them frequently. Now, these aren’t kids with hearing loss, we’re talking about entirely deaf.

    I got to see them grow up with me, and their academic and social success was pretty much what you would expect of any other child – many played sports (it seemed that a gaggle joined the track team for some reason) and had a lot of deaf and hearing friends without too many problems.

    Laylee’s going to be just fine, don’t you worry!

  3. Carrie says:

    You are amazing. That is all.

  4. DaMomma says:

    Poor Mommy. Laylee, of course, is fine. Great doctors, great Momma.

    But for Mommy, it’s pure tauma, and you did GREAT.

  5. Leah Lefler says:

    You’re a GREAT mom- you found her hearing loss and you’re doing everything you need to do! It can be scary at first, but these kids do great. There’s a support group of parents of kids with hearing loss at http://www.listen-up.org/ (it’s a listserve) that’s been really helpful with generating goals for school and early intervention programs (if needed), the emotional stuff, etc. It’s been a real help to us!

    *just searching google for hearing loss stuff and ran across your blog*

  6. Erin says:

    For my job at the library we visit the schools to promote summer reading. At one of the schools we had to use a special microphone thing for one of the kids and I’ve seen a number of kids in various places with hearing aids. It’s not that unusual. Maybe not quite the same as glasses but its not like she has an extra hand growing out of her head or anything.

  7. Cousin Deb says:

    Jackson has a friend with a hearing aid. His teachers use the special microphone. He was fitted prior to kindergarten and is now finishing up first grade. It has been great. The kids are great, though perhaps curious, but he just explains why he needs it matter -of -factly and calmly. The other children accept that and move on.

    When James and Jordan got their first pair of glasses they both exclaimed, “It’s a whole new world!!” at separate times. They won’t take their specs off.

    It will be a whole new world for Laylee too. I will be for you too. In a very very good way. You are a great mom. I think it’s always tougher for us moms. We ladies sure like to find things to feel guilty about. There are some things we can’t control in life, but we can control our reactions to them….at least that is what I try to do.

  8. Monica says:

    It only takes 30 seconds to encourage your representatives and senators to co-sponsor the Hearing Aid Tax Credit –


    The letter is already written for you; you just have to fill in your contact info. Hit the “eMail button” and they will automatically be sent to your Senators and Representative.

    A $1000 tax credit could go a long way towards purchasing her hearing aids. My daughter’s first pair retailed at $6,000.

  9. blackbird says:

    Hey you!

    I just wandered through and read this post –
    she’s a lucky girl (and gorgeous too).
    You’ll get all your answers eventually and she will grow up well adjusted.

    I know because I am brilliant.

  10. Regina says:

    I’m a teacher, and I just want to reassure you (even though this must completely hurt and be worrisome) that hearing aids and those “little microphones” are much more common than you think. In fact, I’ll be using one this year with a student who has a cochlear implant. My only concern is that I’ll forget to turn it off when I’m yelling at a student or when I’m saying something juicy! Laylee may be the most informed student at the school! 😉

    I also had a dear friend who wore hearing aids since she was a baby. It never occurred to us that she was different, and it never held her back. She seemed perfectly calm, successful, and confident. I’m sure people made fun of her at some point, as they did me for being chubby, but I was never aware of it if it did happen. Laylee’s personality already is wired for her to be confident, and a success. There may be times she resents them, but I don’t see her letting them keep her from being just as vivacious as ever.

  11. Clare says:

    I’m a little late in reading this blog and I normally don’t comment, but I just wanted you to know that you seem like an incredible mother who loves her children very much!

    Also, I’m a 4th year Doctor of Audiology student and will graduate in 10 months (yes, I’m counting), and if you have any questions, feel free to ask. I’ll do my best to answer. Also, don’t be concerned about asking your audiologist all your questions, there’s probably not a question you could ask that he/she hasn’t heard before.

    I hope your daughter is doing well and adjusting to her hearing aids! Good luck!

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