Montana M. found out her son, Noah, was profoundly deaf after he was not meeting speech milestones. Determined to help him hear, she looked into cochlear implants. After his cochlear implant activation day, Noah slowly started to say words and now is saying two- and three-word phrases! See why Montana is grateful for their decision:
“How do I even begin to tell such a delicate, uplifting story filled with all sorts of emotions about our sweet boy Noah…
Noah’s story started three days after his 1st birthday. We realized he was not close to meeting any speech milestones. We were not overly concerned because in his first year, we had been to countless specialist appointments due to Noah not meeting any development milestones. We were told by our doctors that he has weak muscle tone and with physical therapy, he would eventually catch up. So, since almost everything he did physically would be delayed, we felt little concern after we saw that his speech was as well.
A close family member mentioned her concerns with his speech and hearing to us and frankly, it had not even crossed our minds that he could potentially be deaf. We had a visit with a pediatrician that eventually sent us to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. The ENT performed the auditory brainstem response (ABR) test on Noah.
I remember sitting with my husband in the waiting room for a little over two hours while the ABR test was being done. At this point, we were still telling each other that there was no way he is deaf and that we were just doing this to honestly prove our family member wrong. The doctor then walked into the waiting room and told us that Noah is profoundly deaf. After that, I just remember crying and feeling so helpless for Noah.
What can we do to help him hear?
I did not want it to be true and I felt like they were missing something. My mind raced with a million questions. How could this be happening? How could we not have known? Did he lose his hearing slowly? Has he ever heard my voice? What about all those times I sang to him and talked to him, did he not ever hear me? As all those questions ran through my head, the only thing I could get out was ‘is there anything we can do to help him hear?’
After discussing all our options, we were told that due to the amount of hearing loss Noah has, hearing aids would most likely not work for him. We needed to book an MRI to ensure he would be a candidate for cochlear implants. Thankfully he was!
The next step was making the decision whether or not to go ahead with cochlear implants. The entire time we were talking about what to do, I was secretly hoping that the doctor would call us back to tell us it was a mistake and that he is not deaf! Of course, that call never came. But after weighing our options for several weeks, we decided that cochlear implants were the best chance for Noah to have a normal hearing life.
Surgery day came and our emotions were at a 10. It was hard to see our little guy taken away to have a surgery done at such a young age. After a little over four hours, they called us into the recovery room where Noah was. The nurses were just starting to slowly wake him up.
Our doctor was by our side explaining how the surgery went as we held Noah in our arms. He was such a trooper. After one night in the hospital, we were on our way home and Noah was back to his happy, silly and loving self. It was as if nothing had even happened to him. We could not believe how resilient he was.
Cochlear implant activation day
Noah’s surgery was August 28th, 2017 and he had his cochlear implant activation day on October 12th, 2017. I will never forget that day. The day he could finally hear me tell him ‘I love you,’ and ‘I’m your mama, and you are my boy.’ It was such a whirlwind of emotions. He actually did great with his activation day, but it was not really what we expected. We were expecting that Noah would be able to hear everything that day. We now know that activation day was the first day of an almost two-year journey that was full of ups and downs.
There were many days that Noah would not want to wear his ears, and there were days where he would forget he even had them on. At a few of his mapping appointments, we took a couple steps back. We had to turn down the volume on his ears because he would not keep them on. The feeling of defeat would set in on the drive home those days, but Noah’s giggling in the back seat would turn it into a victory. Although it took many appointments with our audiologist, we are now at the point where his ‘ears’ are fully turned up.
Starting to form phrases
As we are coming up on two years after his cochlear implant activation day, I can say with a smile that I would not change a thing. We now know that we made the right decision with cochlear implants! He has a wide variety of words and is now starting to form two to three-word phrases like, ‘all done,’ ‘good job,’ ‘oh yea,’ ‘no, no, no’ and the best of all, ‘I love you.’
Noah’s journey has been very emotional for me. Still to this day, I struggle with the fact that I did not know he was deaf until later on. But then Noah comes to me and says, ‘I love you,’ and the struggle is replaced by tears of happiness. I see his strength in trying to navigate the world in his own way. He is confident but cautious at the same time. Every day Noah surprises us with something new. Just today, he started putting on his ears by himself! He truly is our sweet little boy, and I cannot wait to see where this life takes him. I am forever grateful Cochlear was able to give him the chance to hear the world and to hear us tell him, ‘we love you.’”
Are you interested in what a cochlear implant activation day looks like? Learn more here.