Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Leap Into Hearing...Surgery Day

We checked into New York Eye and Ear Infirmary at 6 am. As I walked through the doors, visions of the past 9 months raced through my mind -- the morning she failed her newborn hearing test, the day we got her diagnosis, doctors visits, hearing tests, therapy sessions, everyone saying "once she gets her implants". I thought my legs were made of cement and it was tough to push Hannah in her stroller through the hospital's lobby. A fierce desire to just hold and protect her overcame me and the tears started to flow. Everything Michael and I have done for Hannah and her hearing was heading to this day and it was FINALLY here. Were these tears of joy that this was the first major step in Hannah's hearing journey or total fear for Hannah's five-hour surgery later that morning.

We took the long elevator up the the waiting room on the ninth floor. It was pleasant enough. Plenty of toys, colorful murals on the walls. Nurses came to take her vitals, asking us when the last time she ate - she had milk at 11:30 and some water at 4:30, what, if any, medicine she was taking, any allergies we knew about. They tried to take her weight and height, but since she was still sound asleep in her stroller, I asked if they could use the number's from Hannah most recent doctor's appointment which was just 5 days prior. They obliged. Next they handed me her hospital-issued pajamas and scrubs for me.

Me, Hannah and Michael just before surgery

Our next visitor was the anesthesiologist who asked about our family history to anesthesia and gave us the low down on what Hannah would be given and how she might react.

Finally Hannah and I were escorted down to the second floor to the OR. We were placed in a holding area with a little boy about 4 and his mom. I was holding onto Hannah for dear life when I looked down and saw the little boy holding Hannah's hand. Here were these two babies, both in their Bugs Bunny pajamas, awaiting surgery, comforting each other. I was so happy they were there.

The walk to the OR was the longest steps I've ever taken. I saw Dr. Alexiades right away and I knew she was in the best of hands. The team confirmed they were operating on both ears. At this point Hannah was, of course, fussy and lost a sock. Dr. Alexiades picked up the sock and made gentle cooing sounds to Hannah to help calm her. It worked on her mom too. It's one thing to be so good medically at what you do, but to also have the human element behind it is almost as important. He said he would be done around 12:30 and we should go out for breakfast. They had me place Hannah on the operating table and they quickly put a mask on her and in about 30 seconds she was fast asleep. I heard someone calling out orders and I wanted to get out as fast as I could. I never felt more alone. Someone came up to me at the door and asked if I knew where I was going. I took the elevator back up to the 9th floor and found Michael in the waiting room.

My parents joined us later on and helped us pass the time. At 12:30, as promised, Dr. Alexiades, met us in the waiting room with a huge smile on his face. He said the surgery was successful and Hannah did very well. He said she was going to the recovery room and we could join her shortly. Such a relief.

Michael and I went to the recovery room and saw her peacefully sleeping. I was expecting to see her swollen and attached to the different tubes, but it's not as easy thing when it's your child. After about 1.5 hours they wheeled her up to the main recovery room where she continued to sleep. They woke her around 4 pm to gauge her reactions and she got a little fussy, drank some glucose water and we were sent home.


Daddy's shoulder is a good place to recover

She spent the rest of the night sleeping on Michael and I, waking up every couple of hours to eat. Although she was a little groggy, Sam and her favorite stuffed animal Murray were able to get a little smile. At about 1 am she woke up and was a bit more perky.

Hannah's home and feeling a bit better than yesterday but looks like she had a few rounds in the ring.

Bandages off

It's now about noon and the bandages came off. There is a small scar, about 2 inches around each ear and her hair is shaved. I'm so pleased with everything. She's back to being Happy Hannah, crawling, climbing, playing with all her toys. She's a little more quiet, which is a bit strange for me, but she's still using her little voice and gives Sam a smile whenever he comes into the room.

The next major step is when the devices get turned on and Hannah will be hearing for the first time. This will happen in about three weeks when her audiologist Megan will "activate" her on only one side with the Advanced Bionics Neptune device. The other side will have to wait a couple of weeks to allow Hannah and us some time to get used to the devices and a new way of hearing.

Leap Year is a special day as it only happens once every four years. This year is even more special as it is a day we will never forget.


  1. Glad everything went well. Looking forward to seeing you soon!!

  2. Hannah you're a real fighter. You're beautiful even if you did look like you went a few rounds with Muhammed Ali. Each day will find you looking and feeling more like your old self. You are a star.

    You are so lucky to be you. You are so lucky to have been born when you were because of the miracle of the cochlear implants. You're also so lucky to have parents who are giving you this gift of hearing.

    xxxxooooo Grandma Rainie

  3. Hannah -
    I'm so happy to hear that your surgery went well. I have missed you so much and I can't wait to play soon. I hope you continue to heal well and that you get your "sleepies". Love, your friend Abby Kapur

  4. Dear Hannah,

    You were and are wonderful. This has been an amazing journey for you so far with so many fun and awesome times to come.

    Cant wait until they turn your ears on and the sounds of the world come into sharp clarity for you and you discover this whole new world you've missed up to now.

    It will be fun for sure.

    Hugs to you,


  5. Honey, for once I'm at a loss for words. Your story has beauty, only dimmed by the beauty of your daughter and your love for her.

  6. Hannah is a prize fighter! Congrats on the successful surgery. Can't wait to see you soon!

  7. Hannah is such a strong, beautiful little girl! She is so lucky to have such wonderful parents and many people that love her. We are so happy that she is doing well after her surgery. Can't wait to see her out and about - preferably at shake shack!

  8. Hannah, you rocked that bandaged Princess Lea look!! So tell me more about this charming 4 year old? Did you get digits?! heehe
    I am soooo happy to hear that you have been flashing your smile to Sam, he is such a clown!
    So did you slip in any special requests to Mom and Dad yet- maybe a unicorn pony or trip to Disney World?! This is the BEST time to mention it. Do you want me to send them the message?!
    You know I will. Keep on keeping' on girlfriend! Cheers & Love, Audgie

    Ps- you have the BEST Mom, Dad & Grandparents EVER! I love to read their messages and see the photos. I hope you do too!

  9. March 1st
    Dear Hannah,
    We’ve all had a rough too many hours. Not as rough as it was for you though. You are a very brave little girl and we know how lucky we are to have you. When we called today to see how you were doing, we heard your little laugh in the background and that said it all. Sam was entertaining to your delight. We are told it will be a few weeks before you will hear that sweet sound of sound and it will be like the world saying “Good Morning Hannah, I have wonderful things in store for you”. And it will all be worth it. We think of you often and miss you. Feel better real soon and enjoy many more giggles with Sam.
    Love & Kisses
    Mom- mom & Pop- pop