So much more than just deaf
by Michael & Lucy Calverley
Michael and I still remember the day in August 2011 when an audiologist at Dorchester hospital told us that our 4 week old daughter Olivia was profoundly deaf. We were both hugely shocked – there was no history of deafness in either of our families and neither of us had any experience with deafness - we were devastated. So many things ran through our minds; how will we communicate with her? Will she ever speak? Will she ever hear anything? How will she cope at school/work etc etc. We were given a lot of information in the first few days after her diagnosis, including a DDCS leaflet. Over the next few weeks we looked on the DDCS website and started to read some of the stories from other families. These were so positive and really filled us with hope.
When Olivia was about 8 weeks (and already had her first pair of hearing aids), we met another family who’s 3 year old son had been fitted with cochlear implants. This was a real turning point for us – he was chatting away and doing everything any other 3 year old was doing! It was amazing to talk to him and see him playing, running around and playing in the park like the other children. We also remember attending our first DDCS Christmas party when Olivia was 6 months old. To meet the other families and hear how much all the children had achieved was so uplifting.
After a few months and numerous tests it was clear that Olivia was not hearing anything through her hearing aids. She went on to have bilateral cochlear implants fitted two weeks before her first birthday. When Olivia was 19 months old, her baby brother Jacob arrived into the world! After Olivia’s genetic testing came back as negative, we were told that her hearing loss was more than likely ‘one of those things’ so we were not really worried during my second pregnancy. So when Jacob failed his newborn hearing screening test it did come as another big shock. He went on to have bilateral implants fitted at 10 months old. Going through it all again was by no means easy, but we only had to look at how well Olivia was doing to feel reassured about Jacob’s future too.
Olivia is now 3 and a half and Jacob is 21 months. They are both doing incredibly well and we are so, so proud of them. Olivia adores attending her pre-school and is on the same level as her peers. She is very excited about starting ‘big school’ next year. Jacob has now been hearing for 10 months and loves listening. If his ‘ears’ fall off, he puts them back on straight away and they are the first things he points to when he wakes up in the morning.
Our family has received so much support from the NDCS, the Hearing Support Service and the DDCS. Michael ran the marathon in 2012 to raise money for the NDCS and has recently joined the DDCS committee. We really look forward to attending the events and meeting other local families. We never imagined having two deaf children, but we wouldn’t change them for the world. Yes, they have a profound hearing loss but they are also funny, loving, caring, clever, feisty (!), noisy, brilliant little people.
They are so much more than just deaf and we know that they will be able to achieve whatever they want to in life!