My beautiful daughters Mia, four and Halle, three have something very special in common – they were both born with moderate hearing losses.
Mia was just three days old when she failed the mandatory newborn hearing screening. I was blissfully enjoying my first moments of being a new mum when a nurse came in to collect Mia for her screen. I remember letting her go, enjoying a cup of tea and thinking how utterly happy I felt.
When the nurse returned ten minutes later, I said “I hope she passed!” – but the nurse shook her head. All of a sudden, I was alone in the room holding my beautiful daughter with a horrible feeling in my stomach. When the room filled up with family and friends during visiting hours, I remember being in a kind of trance while I tried to join in conversations with everyone.
As a first-time mum, I was in complete shock. I wasn’t prepared for my baby to ‘fail’ something – and this news amplified the emotional rollercoaster that many new mums go on in the early days of motherhood.
I had never felt so scared and helpless. I spent the next week convinced Mia would never talk. I thought she would always be different to others, be socially and emotionally effected in a negative way. I felt I had failed her as a mother. I felt as though no one else could relate to me, or understand. It made me angry when I saw that everyone else had perfectly healthy babies and I was ‘the one’ they felt sorry for.
Looking back now, the way I felt was not the reality of the situation. In most cases, children with hearing loss are able to learn to talk or they choose to communicate in other ways. However, having had no experience with hearing loss up until that point, I wasn’t thinking clearly in this early time.
In the week following the screen, my husband Drew and I were given information on next steps for Mia but nothing sunk in. We repeated the screen three times in hope that it was not correct.
We travelled to Sydney Children’s Hospital soon after for further testing, and I remember this being the most horrendous day. We had a tiny baby on a drive that was a couple of hours from home, and we were still new to feeding and the basics of looking after Mia. On top of this, we were just uncomfortable with the idea of taking our beautiful little girl into a hospital when we should be at home enjoying our time as a new family.
When the diagnosis of hearing loss came later that day, there was a rush of anger and fear. The drive home was terrible.
Learning to understand our new reality was an emotionally challenging time – and this was combined with the constant battle to keep Mia’s tiny, new pink hearing aids on her equally tiny ears.