All of us lead a normal life, not being content with what we have, but still somehow happy. Our normal lives become not so normal when either something very good happens or when something really bad happens. Nobody wants the latter. All of us daily strive to achieve the former, but seldom achieve it. When it comes to the latter we really don’t have a choice, it just happens. And our near perfect life gets far from normal.
I got married in the year 2013, was 27 then. Led a good college life with friends, going to movies, malls, restaurants and so on. Then the search for a groom began, as I could not find one myself. After 6 years of searching, intense arguments with my mom as to why I don’t like the boys she chose, finally I liked one. Seemed compatible and I said Yes.
We had a lavish wedding I would say. We are not rich families. Average middle class Indian families. Our parents put together all they could and had a grand celebration. My husband indeed turned out to becompatible. We had a lot in common. We both liked “Animated Movies”. Both of us are working individuals. So In the weekdays we went to office and weekends almost every weekend we went to movies and ate out and lived our lives to the fullest.
We did have arguments like every couple does. Like wet towel on the bed, snoring at night, cricket matches, which I don’t like and so on. Normal life right?
Two years passed and we decided to have a baby. I am the eldest daughter in my family, so my baby was going to be the first baby in the family after a very long time. There was a wave of joy when I announced that I had conceived.
I know a lot of couples who are struggling to convince. I felt blessed and thanked the good gods that my conception happened without even a spec of problem.
The 9 months went by with ease. I did get a lot of attention that pregnant women get. But no attention for the sickness. I had no morning sickness at all. I think I kinda missed it. My pregnency was nothing like in the movies. The throwing up, the fainting, the emergency labour pain situation. I caught cold a week before my due date and happened to be in hospital. So no dramatic labour pain situation. I would have loved one.
The last day scans showed that the baby was big. So my gynac suggested that I go for a C- section. With the risks associated with normal delivery in this situation, we decided to go with the suggestion.
The day arrived, I was taken to the Operation theatre. My husband sat next to me during the procedure. Both of us eagerly waiting. Just then the doctor announced ” It’s a Boy”. And I heard him. His “Cry”. And instantly tears rolled down my eyes. They were tears of Joy. I had heard of them only in the movies. Experienced it for the first time. I was a Mother.
And then the blissful journey began. Those sleepless nights, breastfeeding, that toothless smile, singing lullabies, calming him down from his nightmare cries, colic, diaper changes, vaccinations, Name search, oil massages, bathing him, shopping for those tiny cute clothes and colour full toys, hours of googling on babies, theething, drooling, that excitement when he sees his bottle of milk.
When he was about 5 and half months old, my maternity leaves were done. I had availed it a month before the delivery, all thanks to my office cab drivers who were hard core Schumacher fans, who treated our roads like race tracks. I got so paranoid, I decided to leave early. It was so difficult initially to leave him behind and go to office, I would be worried all day and think just about him in office. But the fact that, it was my mom taking care of him back home gave me a complete peace of mind.
Eventually he too learned that his mom does go away from home every morning and returns at night. He would wait for me and come running towards me when I enter that door after I was back from office. That is another level of joy altogether.
Everything was going so well. Life moving smoothly. And he turned one. At his one year’s vaccination, his pediatrician asked. “Does he talk”?. We had not given a thought about it and did not even expect it as he was very young.
He was not talking then, so we decided to give him some time to pick up, as all children pick things up at their own pace.
In our next visit to the pediatrician after another 3 or 4 months, he asked again. “Does he talk”?. The answer was the same. This time he said, by this age children should say some words, at least Mumma & paapa. He asked us to go for speech therapy.
This was the beginning of my normal life taking a turn. What happened at the pediatrician’s did disturb us. My husband and I discussed it with parents and family. It is a common belief that “Boys talk late”. So we decided to give him some more time.
In another couple of months we had to visit the pediatrician again. My boy was still not talking. This time the pediatrician insisted us to visit a speech therapist and to also get his hearing test done.
We couldn’t understand why he would say that. All that went around in my head was “Why would he say such a thing, my boy is too young, he is just taking time to talk.”
We went ahead to get that test done, hesitantly. I was confident that my boy is alright. Just for the sake of it, we went there.
The insitute we were referred to for the testing was a charitable institution. And so there were a lot of people and also a lot of kids. Many of the kids had hearing aids on them. I could not take the sight of it. I could not imagine such small kids having such huge problems. It was overwhelming. I tried to shift my attention to what we were there for, my boy was in my arms, my arms tightened around him and I waited for our turn.
When our turn arrived, they took us to a small sound proofed room with an old computer. They tried to put a earphone into the sleeping child’s ears, he was very sensitive, wouldn’t cooperate. Somehow we managed to compete the test but with lot of disturbance from the child.
My anxiety was increasing as they took time to give the results. Finally, when they came to us, they asked us to come back another day for another test, because this test was not very reliable because of the disturbance from the child and also because he had wax in his ear. I asked them if he passed the test. They said, “No, but we really can’t say because this test is not very accurate.”
I was angry, if it’s not reliable then why make the child go through it. The entire process had an impact on us about the stress our child is going through. We had been trying to see at home if he responds to sounds. His response was mixed. Sometimes he gave good response. And sometimes just did not bother. We thought he is a child and is engrossed in his play and so is not noticing.
We decided we will not go for the second test on the date given as he is too young for it. And will take him when is a little older and will cooperate for the test. That was a big mistake that we did. We had no idea about early intervention. There was no awareness around this subject anywhere. And also, we were confident then that he was fine. And that it’s just his behaviour.
Time passed he was almost 2 and still not talking, time and again we kept trying to figure out if he can hear, the response was same as before. And we were still confident that he could hear and that he is just taking time. People suggested to put him to play school, so that when he mingles with other children he will be forced to communicate.
We did that, and he went to school as any other child, reluctant in the beginning and happy later to go to his school. We had positive response from the school too about his progress the only issue being, him not responding to their calls.
Three months passed he going to the school, to our disappointment he still did not talk. Not even a word and now we were really getting anxious and decided to call a speech therapist.
The speech therapist came home on the appointed day and analysed the child and to our horror asked us to get hearing test done, as he was excellent in every other aspect.
She referred us to the same insitute we had gone previously. So I knew what to expect. We booked an appointment which we got on a date after a week. On the day we left our home with heavy hearts, hopes and prayers for my child to be ok. I begged all the gods I could think of and reached the place. After all the test they told us that he had failed the test, but again the test was not reliable because, again he had wax and fluid in his ears. He happened to have cold at that time. So we were left hanging in the air again with hopes and no certain answer. We were referred to a ENT doctor to clear his cold and given another date which was after another week to do another test called BERA, which would tell us for sure about his hearing.
We took him to the ENT doctor who removed the wax and gave a list of medicines for his cold to be given for a week.
As we were leaving the premises I could not hold on to my tears, my confidence was diminishing. But hopes still strong.
The following week we tried all kinds of things to make sure that he can hear. We dropped vessels, threw basketball on the floor behind him, burst balloons and he responded for all of them. It did not bring back our confidence this time. There were other noises for which he didn’t respond at all.
That week was the longest week I had ever been through. Passing each day was so difficult with so many thoughts going on in my head. I just wanted the day to come finish the tests and be told that my boy is all fine.
Finally the day arrived, I knew it would be a long day. So I packed all that was necessary and left with my husband. I was asked to put the child to sleep as it essential for the test. We waited for him to fall asleep and took him inside. A small room with cushioned walls and a small bed. I put him on the bed, being careful not to wake him up.
They rubbed his forehead and behind his ears with some gel and stuck three electrodes there with conductor gel and tape. The electrode wires connected to a computer. With great efforts we put the earphone into his left ear making sure he does not wake up. And the test began. There were wave formations on the computer screen, which was Greek and Latin to us. I was constantly trying to find something that I could make sense of on the screen. But I found nothing.
I could hear my heart pounding, beside me was my husband in same condition. We waited as the test continued and as doctors, interns and students walked in and out of the room. It was a college based institute for speech and hearing.
It took almost 45 to 50 minutes for one ear, when we tried to shift the earphone to the right ear he woke up. Pulled out all the wires and jumped to me. There was another patient waiting so they tried to give us another date, but I insisted to finish it the same day. So he was sedated and put to sleep again. The patient inside was taking very long considering she was an adult. Apparently there was an power block and systems had shut down. By the time she finished my child was asleep for an hour already, they sedated him too early. I was paranoid we would wake up in between the test and it did happen. We could not continue the test for his right ear.
They gave us another date for the right ear. I could not handle the uncertainty again and asked the lady who conducted the test to tell me the result for his left ear. And there she said it. She said the words that I most dreaded, ” HE HAS NINTY PERCENT LOSS IN HIS LEFT EAR”.