Our daughter, Gracie White, was born with a hearing loss. We were fortunate to find out about the possibility of her hearing loss during a routine screening test while she was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. Boniface Hospital. We were unfortunate, however, that she had to stay in the NICU for about a month due to a rough full-term birth – an experience that no parent should ever have to go through.
In the first days of Gracie’s life she went from being the sickest baby in the NICU to the miracle baby. In a short time she had accomplished so much, truly showing the world that Gracie White was here to stay! And not only that, but she was here to thrive and prove the medical world wrong on what felt like a 100 counts of not so great predictions for her future health. As her parents, we have heard her being referred to as the “million-dollar baby”, the “one percent baby” or as previously mentioned the “miracle baby”. As her mother, ignorance (or hormones) must have been on my side because I believed in her and advocated for her every step of the way. I also thought she was the most loved baby in the NICU because I FELT all the love and support from family and friends which I believe contributed greatly to her healing. I knew she was amazing and unstoppable and sure enough she amazed everyone!
Three months later, her hearing was retested. While we thought all health issues were behind us and that this was just another routine test, it was confirmed that she has a mild to moderate high-frequency bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. Of course, it was a hard day and a difficult reality to absorb. The audiologists at St. Boniface Hospital told us about two routes that we could choose to help our daughter learn to listen and speak. After researching our options, we chose Auditory Verbal Therapy at the Central Speech and Hearing Clinic (CSHC) because of its proactive approach (as opposed to a more remedial approach) to helping her. We also felt that this approach matched the outcomes we wanted for our daughter long term – which is ultimately to go to University (if she so chooses). We were able to get her fitted with hearing aids by 4 months and jump into therapy very soon after.
Her first birthday is fast approaching. AV therapy has been great for Gracie and our family. We have the tools and the confidence to help our daughter stay on par with her peers. We have learned how to integrate therapy into our daily routines at home and the importance of advocating for her and teaching her to become a confident and independent little girl. It has made a big difference in her development so far and we believe that this is the right therapy for her. She is babbling up a storm and we are convinced she is ready to burst at the seams with a few very important words!
If I could write a letter to all new parents whose infant or toddler is being diagnosed with a hearing loss I would say to look at the bigger picture and to come from a place of gratitude. The technology, the professionals, and the support system available to her in this day and age (and its only getting better) are truly wonderful. If you are a parent who is only 90% sure whether AVT is the right route for your child, let me be that last 10% and then pay that belief forward to another parent. Get involved, enjoy the journey and trust the outcomes because your child WILL amaze you!
Jennifer Cottes White, - Proud Mom of Gracie White.