Finding Vivienne’s Voice
Written By: Lyndsey Fedorko
If you would have asked me what my journey into motherhood looked like years ago, I would have never guessed it would look the way that it does now. Even though it’s been different than I would have expected, it has forever changed me as a person in the most positive ways.
Our first born, Jacen, failed his initial hearing test in the hospital but passed the next time they tested him before being discharged. When Vivienne was born and didn’t pass the initial hearing test, they told us it was likely fluid as she had a very fast delivery. Did I think twice about this? No. Jacen failed his initial test once; I figured everything would be okay.
During the Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) scan, the audiologist kept calm. It wasn’t until towards the end of the test when I could hear the clicking through the little headphones they put in her ears, and I knew in my heart that something was wrong. The audiologist took a long time (or so it seemed) to come back with the results. When she shared her findings, I was shocked. Vivienne was diagnosed with severe-to-profound hearing loss/complete deafness. This is not something that runs in our family so I immediately called my husband. The audiologist began to explain what wasn’t working in her ears, but that we had many options to pursue to give Vivienne a language-rich environment. That appointment was really the first time I had ever heard about a cochlear implant. We were later told we would need to come back to confirm her deafness through a sedated ABR scan.
We quickly decided to choose the cochlear implant route. Well, I should say my husband did! I took a little bit more time to process and research what was best. I wanted to give my daughter a choice rather than choose for her. In order to give her all the choices possible, we chose to get her cochlear implants. We also continued to use sign language with her, and are still teaching her sign to this day, although speech is definitely taking precedence as we are at a crucial time for her language development.
At 10 months old, Vivienne underwent surgery to receive the internal piece of the implant. At 11 months old, she was activated. That was a huge day for us! She had a special light in her eyes when she first heard sound, and it hasn’t gone away.
With the help of our certified auditory verbal therapist (AVT) and audiologist, we began our family’s journey for her to learn to listen and speak. The first few months were an adjustment. What felt like impossible at the beginning of this journey started to feel like the reality we had hoped and prayed for. She began babbling within a few months and said her first word, “mama,” a few weeks later. We ended up doing very intensive AVT for the first two years of her listening journey.
Vivienne is a happy and well-adjusted 3 ½ year old who has a love for people and is one of the most caring individuals you will ever meet! Pretty early on in her listening journey, she asked for her “ears” within moments of waking. This is the first thing she does every day, and with a smile on her face. Each morning when we get in the car Vivienne will say, “Mommy, listen, do you hear that?” She will point out something that she hears in her environment, and it about brings me to tears each day. She appreciates more of what a lot of us take for granted. Some of her favorite activities include singing, dancing and playing house. Vivienne currently attends a mainstream preschool along with a speech enrichment program through our local school district and is thriving! I want to thank every person who supported our family along the way. Family, friends, audiologists, doctors, speech therapists, teachers of the deaf, preschool teachers, and the list goes on and on. Thank you for helping our girl find her voice!
As a new parent of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, you probably have some questions. Don’t feel nervous about calling us, we’re here to help Monday through Friday to lend support. Call 1-833-LSL-LINK (1-800-575-5465) or email [email protected]. For more information on the Listen-Learn-Link New Parent Hotline, click here.