We turned Gigi’s Cochlear Implant on yesterday. She got her first intro to sound, because, yes, she CAN hear. All the electrodes in the implant are turned on. We weren’t sure she would tolerate that at first. She handled it like a champ though.
I did take a video. I showed it to Joe and one other mom of a child who was late implanted and adopted from Gigi’s homeland. Gigi’s reaction was exactly what we all expected. They began to “map” the implant and she looked around, giving all of us some side eye, as if to say “What in the WORLD?!?” The Audiologist began to tinker with the programming and as soon as the mic went on she, literally, dove under the table to hide.
Why wouldn’t you? Weird stuff is happening inside your head. I would dive under the table too.
We had read so many books about this, and I had showed her SO many activation videos that when I crawled under the table with her and signed “You hear?” She was able to look up at me and kind of process it as “Oh, that’s what that was?”
She moved back up to her chair and promptly informed the Audiologist “I hear, right here” and pointed to her left ear. She did perfect. She left the processor on and played happily with her interpreter while I got the low down on how to charge and care for all the thousands of dollars worth of equipment they were about to hand me.
Gigi wore her processor all evening. She handed it back to me at bedtime, the same way she does with her hearing aids. At breakfast we put it back on and went for our first post-activation session at Hearing Clinic.
I decided to be VERY clear about what I want from these sessions, which, in reality, is all about what Gigi wants. I want Gigi to run the show. We’ll play games surrounding sound and speech, but if she decides she’s done, than we’re done. These have to be fun.
This is a change from where we were before. In Hearing Clinic sessions prior to this we pushed Gigi, because the sessions surrounded signing, and sometimes, communication is work. Speaking is extra, like learning a foreign language. If she wants to do it, that’s great, if not, we need to stop.
Right now, she is like a newborn to the world of sound and spoken language, and her processor is set LOW, so how much she hears is a real question mark. But, she liked the games we played. While we have been told that it may take a year of these sessions for her to say a word, Gigi is defying expectations.
As we played a game with the rising sun and moon, creating day and night, I said ‘Uhhh-pppp. Uhhh-pppp” right next to her as I raised the moon into the sky. She looked at my mouth and said “Uhhhh—ppp” right back.
Up, up, up, Gigi, rising high against all expectations.
She played a game where I stood outside the door and ‘knocked’, then she would ‘listen’ and then answer. She didn’t find this frightening at all. She found it super fun. Later, we played it at home with Daddy.
During our session, she would tell us she needed breaks. She would put her head down, or she would sign to us “mouth all done.” This meant she was over it. We absolutely respected that and we’d move on to something of her choosing. We’d play with her fish, or we’d draw, until she was ready to play again.
She has had her processor off for about two hours now while she took a nap. We saw this sleepy behavior when she first got her hearing aids. This is a ton of work for her brain. It needs breaks. She is now watching TV, mindlessly, and in silence. After dinner we’ll encourage her to put her processor back on. Thus far, she has been totally fine with this if we give her short breaks.
I’m going to hope this keeps up! So far, she is doing AMAZING!!!
Here’s my end note, and I wish we weren’t back to this again. I have gotten many, many comments and emails from people who disagree with our choice for Gigi, especially in light of her bleeding disorder. We did risk her life to re-implant her. I am done addressing that. I am definitely done apologizing for it.
If you are Deaf, have written me, I have received your messages. I am not “ignoring you because you are Deaf.” My not answering you has nothing to do with oppression. I was ignoring you because you are rude. You have emailed me 16 times now though, so I’m going to answer publicly.
If you have zero support for our Deaf daughter because of a choice I made as her mother, then that is your decision, but you’re tearing down a proud member of your own community. For that reason, your notes aren’t welcome here. I am doing the best I can. Gigi waited a long time for a family to come for her. You could have been that family.
Instead, we are.
Should you make a different decision for the Deaf child you adopt, I promise not to say a word.
–FullPlateMom, who is over the hate mail, and is determined to focus on the positive.