Macey was gracious enough to share her family’s story:
Jill: Can you share a bit about your son’s diagnosis with hearing loss?
Macey: Oliver was given the newborn hearing and screening test the day he was born. The woman administering it said his right ear passed but his left ear failed. She said not to worry as the tests are not always accurate and Oliver was born three weeks early. He was given the test again at one-day-old, which he passed his left ear this time, and failed his right. I figured then it definitely wasn’t reliable; however we were asked to return in three weeks for an outpatient follow-up test. Three weeks later, he was given the test again, in which he failed in the left, and passed in the right. She told me this one was much more accurate and he would need to see an audiologist in Los Angeles.
About two months later when Oliver was three months old we went to LA and he was given a BAER. It was long and drawn out and my anticipation was high. After about 45 minutes, the audiologist came in and bluntly stated, “Your son has mild hearing loss in both ears. I will be referring him for hearing aids.” She then walked away, and I never saw her again. I stood there in shock and disbelief, with a million unanswered questions in my head. Once I met with the audiologist who prescribed him the hearing aids, most of those questions (how long will he wear them- probably until age 5, but it’s unknown, why can’t he hear- unknown, do they make hearing aids that small- yes) were answered. He was set with an appointment to get molds and was given his hearing aids at five months old.
Jill: What was your experience with hearing loss prior to your son’s diagnosis?
Macey: My dad has always been hard of hearing. We always told him to get hearing aids, but he couldn’t find a pair that didn’t bother him. He finally just got his own about a year ago. (My dad wears Phonak as well, and their hearing aids look exactly the same.)
Other than that, I knew nothing about it. I guess I thought it was something only older people dealt with. Well, I mean I knew otherwise, but had never experienced it so close to home.
My dad loves that Oliver has hearing aids like him! Of course he’d prefer he could hear, but he always tells him, “You have cool ears like G-Pa!” It will be nice when Oliver is older feeling like he’s not the only one who wears them in the family.
Jill: How has his hearing developed so far? Have there been any special moments you can share?
Macey: We’ve gotten to the point where he grabs everything- including his hearing aids. He loves to rip them out and put them in his mouth. It’s definitely been a challenge to get him used to them, but that’ll come in time.
We do get frequent ‘glances’ from individuals in public, as it’s uncommon to see an infant with hearing aids. One time though, we were in Costco, and our cashier started fluently signing ASL to him! Now, Oliver can hear and it wasn’t exactly necessary, but it was a sweet gesture on her behalf and nice to know others are willing and able to go out of their way to accommodate his needs.
Jill: Where did you find support or guidance after his diagnosis? Did you use blogs or social media to connect with other parents?
Macey: We were contacted by Kern Regional Center (KRC), which is a non-profit organization that provides Early Start services for infants and toddlers with certain delays and established risk conditions, such as hearing impairment. They have given us so many resources and contacts to answer any questions we have. We also are fortunate enough to have one of their educational aides come to our house once a week to work with Oliver and teach him ASL!
I have tried to use social media (Instagram) to connect with other parents of children with hearing loss. I’ve found a few and will continue to do so!
Jill: What do you hope others know about hearing loss or hearing aids that can help break down stigmas?
Macey: Hearing aids are a helper just like anything else we use in our lives. A cane to walk, glasses to see, an umbrella to keep us dry. They are not unfortunate and there’s no reason to be sorry for those who use them. I am proud of Oliver’s hearing aids. I’m proud that I’ve been proactive in getting them, and that I make sure he wears them in public despite other’s stares. One day I hope Oliver feels the same- proud that he has these “extra ears” that give him the power to hear what he couldn’t before!
Jill: Thanks so much for sharing your family’s story, Macey!
You can follow Macey and her family’s journey on Instagram @ohboyoliver.