How I felt when my baby heard me for the first time
Charlotte (Charly) is just four months old and was born with a profound hearing loss. The first time her hearing aids were turned on, her baby eyes brightened, and widened as she held back her emotional tears listening to her mom say “I love you.”
Charly’s response was unexpected, as her audiologist warned the family not to expect too much of a response due to the severity of her hearing loss. But to their surprise, when they turned on her Phonak Sky V hearing aids, Charly did hear and her response was priceless.
Thankfully, Charly’s parents caught the response on camera. In the video, which went viral, Charly fights back tears as she hears the tender words of her mother saying “I love you” for the first time. With millions of views, Charly’s unexpected response melted hearts all over the world.
Even though Christy and her husband were not expecting a significant response, they are so glad they were able to capture such a precious moment.
“It was the most heartfelt, amazing reaction to hearing for the first time than I could ever imagine,” Christy says. “Oh my goodness- to see her eyes look so deeply in mine as I told her “I love you” for the first time changed my life.”
“…to see her eyes look so deeply in mine as I told her “I love you” for the first time changed my life.”
Charlie’s Hearing Loss Story
The Keane Family’s journey with hearing loss started off in the hospital when Charly was only days old. She had not passed the newborn hearing screening, but her doctors assured them that the failed screening was likely her fluid in the ears and not to worry.
A few weeks later, when Charly was one month old, doctors performed an Auditory Brain Response (ABR) test. It was with this test that Christy learned Charly has a profound hearing loss.
The news was heart-breaking to Christy and her husband.
“…I had no idea what it meant to be deaf. I was just so sad she hadn’t heard my voice or me tell her I love her.”
“Profound hearing loss? That sounded fancy so I straight up asked the audiologist: ‘Is she deaf?’ When she replied yes, my heart broke,” she says. “Nothing in my heart changed for this sweet little baby, of course, but I had no idea what it meant to be deaf. I was just so sad she hadn’t heard my voice or me tell her I love her.”
Like many, the Keanes did not know a single person with hearing loss, or what it would mean for their little one.
So I am ready to open up publicly about something our family is dealing with- our sweet Charlotte is deaf (bilateral profound congenital hearing loss). We don’t know why or have any answers beyond that at this time, but we have taken the last few weeks to process the information. Neither my husband nor myself have a history of hearing loss in our families and nothing really prepared us for this news but WE WILL ALL OVERCOME. This is shocking news, but it’s not sad news. This sweet baby is beautiful and healthy and so capable of achieving everything she wants in life and we will make sure that happens! I would absolutely LOVE to connect and hear from any families who have been through this as we have no idea what to expect. Moving forward- Charly will be fit for her hearing aids in two weeks which will not make her hear but will get her brain and auditory nerve used to vibrations and stimulation as we wait to undergo surgery for cochlear implants (in about a year). We are so lucky to have such an amazing support system who will make this girl feel nothing less than loved, worthy, and completely normal! #hearingloss #deaf #ci #cochlearimplants #charlyshearingjourney
Christy went home and began to research about interventions, therapies, and technology. She was inspired by the many videos and stories of other children who had received hearing aids and cochlear implants. Before this experience, she had never even heard of a cochlear implant. Christy knew that seeking a cochlear implant for Charly was the direction they would pursue.
While the journey has not been easy, the Keane’s have found strength in the outpouring of love and support from friends and family. Additionally, Charly is getting the support she needs. Charly is doing early intervention and plans to use auditory-verbal and receives speech therapy. Christy is learning sign language and plans to teach Charly once auditory pathways are more mature.
A Deeper Relationship
The Keane’s are loving every moment with Charly.
“Hearing loss has not taken away anything from my experience with my newborn,” Christy says. “If anything it has just helped us connect on a deeper and different level. I honestly forget she’s deaf at times because I don’t allow it to change our life or relationship.”
“…it has just helped us connect on a deeper and different level.”
Christy hopes that parents that are going through a similar experience can connect and reach out to other families. She has found so much comfort in the words of other parents who have gone through a similar experience. In the meantime, the Keane family are enjoying the little joys of raising two little girls.
“I am so proud to be the parent of a deaf child,” she says. “We are so thrilled that she is warming hearts all over the world. We are so excited for this journey and to watch her move mountains. In our eyes, she is no different than our other child and we will treat her no differently. We will push her, encourage her, and love her through all challenges to make sure she accomplishes everything she wants in life.”