Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!
Hannah the Banana. Isn't she cute?!?!
Hannah started the day at The Center. Afterwards, we met Grandma and Grandpa Weitzman for a walk in Central Park. It was a gloriously warm afternoon and the sun felt so good. Hopefully all of Hannah's Halloween's will be this sweet.

Lucky for us, Michael got out of work a little early and joined the park festivities.

Our building had a trick or treat parade and Hannah and Michael joined. Hannah stayed in her banana costume but Daddy changed out of his monkey suit and was his boyhood idol: The Man In The Yellow Hat. That's the great thing about kids. You get to relive your childhood or at least have the excuse to carry on. After Hannah came home with some candy loot, we met up with The Flemings for a bite at Go Burger.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Clarke School

Hannah is a busy girl. She is now going to The Clarke School for more sessions. She sees Jen every Tuesday and Friday at 8:30 for a half hour private therapy session. Like The Center, Hannah works hard at discovering sounds and using her little voice to make requests. The session starts with a Hello song. Hannah just loves this. Jen works with Hannah on the Lings Sounds, those six sounds that lie within the speech spectrum of hearing. Jen will present Hannah with toys that represent each of the sound so an airplane represent the aaah sound, a cupcake or ice cream cone the mmm sound, a monkey for the eee sound and a rattle for Hannah to SHHake for the shhh sound. Jen will start by saying the sound, wait for Hannah to notice the sound and then show Hannah the appropriate toy.
We also attend a Friday morning parent/infant group with Hannah every Friday morning from 9-10. The group consists of a total of seven families with children who have some degree of hearing loss. This has been a source of so much support for all of us and getting to know the other families has been amazing.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Aaah Ouuu Eeee Sssh Zzzzz Mmmm

Hannah began her speech therapy sessions at the Center for Hearing and Communication in downtown Manhattan when she was three-and-a-half months old. And we are so lucky to have Jessica as our speech and language pathologist. Our sessions are every Monday and Wednesday at 9 am and each one is an hour. The sessions begins with Jessica listening to Hannah's hearing aides with a listening tube. She chants Aaah, Oooou, Eeee, Shhhs, Zzzz, Mmmm, Railroad Hotdog and makes sure all of the vowels and constants are clear for Hannah to hear. While Hannah's hearing loss is profound, I do believe the hearing aids do help her. While her hearing level ranges in the 90-110 decibel range, the hearing aids can bump up her hearing about 50 decibels, allowing her to hear conversations. The therapy teaches Hannah how to listen. Jessica will introduce different sounds to Hannah like the bells, Hannah's favorite and a snare drum, Hannah's least favorite and many, many toys in between. Jessica plays with Hannah using the toys as a way to talk with Hannah, and introduce simple words like up, down, open, close and pop. The goal for now is for Hannah to turn to the sound. Once she knows she has to look for the sound, meaning to that sound comes next.
While an hour class for any child could seem long, Hannah was so focused and attentive for about 45 minutes of it. The rest of the time allowed me to ask Jessica questions about Hannah's hearing and ways to interact with Hannah.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The hearing aids

At 10 weeks old, Hannah received her first hearing aids. She has her own pair of binaural Phonak Naida S V Up behind the ear hearing aids. I was terrified. I just couldn't see my little baby with these hearing devices on her tiny head. We sat with Anita, her audiologist at the Center, who explained all about the hearing aids, how they work, how to troubleshoot them and how to put them on. Once they were on , Hannah was calm but was much more alert. I called out to her, calling out her name and she looked up at me. It was just amazing to see that reaction. It was like pulling off a band-aid.
Once her new "ears" were on, Michael and I went for lunch. She was still our little sweetie pie, happy as could be. We kept looking at Hannah to see if she noticed any of the noises coming out of downtown Manhattan. It was just really hard to tell, but we were hopeful.
After lunch, we met with Lois Heymann for a therapy session. A lot of family and friends wondered what a speech and language therapy session would be like for a two-and-a-half month old. We wondered ourselves. Lois explained the session were intended for Hannah to turn to sound and eventually have meaning to that sound. Lois used a push toy that had tiny balls that twirled around. Hannah really enjoyed this, especially the knob on top. Tasty. After, Michael rubbed Hannah's belly, saying Mmmmmm. When he stopped, Hannah used her voice to indicate she liked it and Michael continued. Eventually, Hannah tired out and we got the chance to talk to Lois. It was like a therapy session for the parents as Hannah dozed the afternoon away.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Center For Hearing and Communication

We traveled downtown to the Center for Hearing and Communication and met with Lois Kam Heymann, a speech and language pathologist with over 30 years experience working with young children, to discuss their program. The Center offers twice-a-week, one-hour speech and language therapy sessions through Early Intervention as well as the Deaf Infant Program (DIP). Lois showed us around the Center and we were impressed by the bright green and blue walls, the children's drawings and the fun toys. We also met several of the speech pathologists who were all warm and welcoming. We felt this would be the perfect place for young Hannah to come and learn how to listen, speak and play with other children. There was also lots of laughter from the other children who seemed right at home.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Ear Institute and an ABR

We took Hannah back to the Ear Institute at New York Eye & Ear for the auditory brainstem response (ABR) test on July 8. This test has to be done while Hannah is asleep. Michael and I kept our little girl hungry and awake. Not an easy task for anyone, especially a 7-week old baby. But it was worth it. She sleep through the two-hour test, only waking for about 20 minutes. The audiologist put more probes in her ears and tiny electrodes on her forehead. All we could do it sit and pray that the audiologist would get some response. When all was said in done, the audiologist explained that sometimes the newborn hearing screening doesn't accurately tell the whole story and that she double checked all the equipment to make sure the test was done correctly. All I could think about was this was all a mistake and we could take our little girl home. Then she dropped the bomb on us. Hannah had profound sensorineural hearing loss in both her right and left ears. I don't remember much that she said afterward. She handed us a piece of paper and told us a little bit about the hearing banana. Basically Hannah could be in front of a jet airplane and maybe she could hear it.
Hannah was fitted for her hearing aids. They inserted a greenish goop in her tiny ears to take a mold impression. At the same time, we met with the Early Intervention Coordinator who explained about Hannah's speech therapy sessions offered at NYEE.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

June Discoveries

We brought our bundle of joy to Dr. Susan Levitzky, Hannah's pediatrician, for her first checkup. We told her about Hannah's hearing and our concerns. We were hoping she would see the fluid in her ears. She took one look in her ears and said there was no fluid. We were crushed. She recommended we see Dr. Janie Bartlett, a distinguished audiologist who specialized with children.
We met with Dr. Bartlett the following week to perform a behavioral hearing test on Hannah. While this is a subjective test performed on a newborn baby, Dr. Bartlett wanted to see if Hannah reacted in any way to sound, either by moving her eyes or have a change in her mouth as she nursed. Michael, Hannah and I went into a listening booth while Dr. Bartlett piped in different sounds. While Hannah slowly moved her eyes when a really loud sound occurred, she didn't startle the way a normal hearing baby would. She recommended us talked to Dr. Ronald Hoffman, an ENT with The Ear Institute at NYEE.
At the same time, my father contacted a family friend Ali, an ENT doctor for his recommendations. He suggested we speak with Dr. Simon Parisier, one of the early pioneers of cochlear ear implant surgery and a colleague of Dr. Hoffman at The Ear Institute. We felt we were going to the right place for Hannah.
We met with Dr. Parisier at the end of June and he assured us Hannah would be ok. Michael and I were so overwhelmed with the possibilities of Hannah's hearing loss. How do we interact with her? Do we have to shout at her for her to hear? Dr. Parisier said to treat her like any normal hearing baby and continue talking with her, singing with her, hold her close and let her feel you talking.
It's so hard to be certain what a baby at this age may or may not hear. Did she turn to sound, did she hear us sing to her, did she hear that siren or that jack hammer as we went walking with her?
We made an appointment for further testing.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Newborn Hearing Screening

Hannah was born full term after 40 weeks and two days of pregnancy. She began her first three days in the hospital by taking the universal newborn hearing test. The test is performed by placing a small probe into her ears. It only took a few minutes for the technician to tell me she failed in both ears. Needless to say, I was shocked. Neither Michael nor myself had any issues with hearing loss in our families. The only answers I had from the hospital was failing this screening was common and that it was probably a result of fluid in her ears, which is common for C-section babies. They told me I shouldn't worry. We tried our best to put this out of minds and we basked in the pure joy of having Hannah.
For the next two mornings, the screening was repeated in the hospital and Hannah failed each time. It's my nature to worry and I was really getting worried. I pressed the hospital nurse for more information but she called me "The Worrier" and moved on. Because Hannah failed the screening in the hospital, we were told to follow-up with an audiologist.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Our Little Star Is Born

Hannah Rose came into this world on May 20, 2011 at 6:12 pm. It was the most amazing day of our lives.