Thursday, September 24, 2009

18 Month Mommy

Aiden had his eighteen month well baby visit yesterday.
As I sat there waiting I couldn't help but reminisce
The tears welled up in my eyes that day,
sixteen months ago,
as I watched a toddler play in the waiting room.
I pictured Aiden at this little boy's age
(who was about 12 to 18 mths)
and all I could picture was all this equipment.
I tried to shut my mind off, but it wouldn't.
I wondered if he'd be as outgoing as the little boy
toddling around, babbling to his mom as happy as can be.
I thought about the possibility of Aiden not babbling,
and my heart skipped a beat, as if I couldn't breathe,
I was scared ... very scared.
I will NEVER forget that day.

That day I hated that my baby was deaf. Hated it.
I left the office feeling very sick to my stomach, tears rolling down.
Aiden at 2 months

Fast forward to yesterday. and my experience,
as the mom in the waiting room with an 18 month old,
with "that equipment" we now can't imagine him without.

We walk in and Aiden immediately starts squiggling
and says, "owwwn" for me to let him down.

I sit down, and Aiden hovers by my legs
playing shy in front of another mom and her daughter.

My monkey then climbs up on the seat,
saying "maaaaam" as he lays his head
on my shoulder still playing shy,

then decides he needs to show off instead
and gives me a nice whack on the head
as he yells "ow!" laughing out loud.

Continues to show off as he does a nose dive over me
to get a magazine with Halloween pictures on the cover.

As I try to talk to him about the pumpkin and the ghost
and the spiders, he yells,"ah da" (all done),
rips it from my hand and throws it on the floor.
then proceeds to try and climb up the seat
and onto the window sill ...

that's when the nurse came to call us back
thank God.

The nurse brings us back to the room, and
when she's done, says, "bye-bye Aiden!"
So Aiden waves and then blows a kiss
with a big ol "mmmmua"!

And I was worried.

Aiden at 18 months

and just for the record, his stats:
  • 27 pounds 4 oz vs. 12 pounds at 2 mths

  • 33 inches vs. 23 inches at 2 mths
  • 50 cm head circumference ... and I only put this here because I had to laugh at the fact that his head size is in the 95th percentile!! Oh my boys and there noggins!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Good with My Bad

I am completely worn out. I have been going nonstop since Aiden started school. It doesn't help that last week we had at least one commitment every day. School, audiology, therapy, ECI, school.

This trip to Aiden's school twice a week is hard. We leave before 7am every morning and are still late ... and class doesn't start until 8:30/8:45! The traffic is absolutely insane. The ride home is fine, it's getting there that's the problem and I'm starting to wonder if I really made the right decision to start him at such an early age.

I have to get Aiden up out of bed by 6:15am and throw him in the car for our two hour trek into D.C. I promise you, the other day it took me 25 minutes to travel from exit 28A to exit 28B. No joke. I truly don't mind the drive, but what I hate is the fact that during this time, Aiden's CIs become breakfast so he has no sound for the whole trip. Top that off with dropoff crying fits (ok, they don't last long, but it still breaks my heart) and I feel like a terrible mother.

I can't help but think:

- I started him too early.
- I'm losing good hearing/language opportunities during our travel time.
- He's crying when I drop him off, and
- Completely worn out when I pick him up.
- He's completely off schedule right now.
- How is he going to stay an extra hour once a week for private one on one therapy?
- Then he has AVT the one day in between his school days ... when does my baby get a break?
- He's reverted back to wanting the bottle even more, and I give in. It's the guilt.

These are all things that have been going through my mind nonstop and it makes me want to take my baby and stop it all.

Then I remember:

- This is such an amazing opportunity - he's getting three and half hours of therapy in a language enriched environment.
- He's playing, having fun, learning, learning, learning ...
- ... all at a prime learning to listen stage in his life.
- This is one of the best oral school's for deaf that works hand in hand with his CI center/team.
- He's in a classroom with 6 hearing peers and one other CI peer.
- He gets excited when he see pictures of his teachers and classmates.
- I am truly enjoying the downtime with Ben's mom and getting to talk with other CI moms who just get it.

The time to enrich his mind is now.
- He's starting to say the animal sound when he sees a specific animal.
- He plays with the caterpillar and makes it eat the fruits as he makes the munching noise each time.
- He's starting to imitate more
- He's becoming more observant and vocal
- His teachers are documenting his day and in the last three visits alone, have picked up on things I haven't, such as:
  • Aiden says bah (ball)!
  • When they ring the bell for circle time or clean up time, he not only hears it, but follows his classmates and participates in whatever they should be doing
  • Sought out the teacher when his CI fell off! HELLO! He's NEVER done this at home ... until today, he SAID to me "on, on, on" and when I turned around, noticed his CI was off!
  • Requested "uh, uh, uh" (up, up, up) when he wanted to wash his hands
  • Is using the classroom climber unassisted ... remember, he's the only one in his class who is not walking, he's going to want to keep up sooner or later!

The hard work is now. The pay off is slow ... but it's definitely showing it's presence.

He is adjusting ... it's harder on me than it is on him ... emotionally and physically. Really.

When Aiden was born, I wasn't ready to hear he was deaf. I tried to ignore it. Not believe it, that there was something that would just "fix" it and he'd be fine.

But there wasn't a cure. So we grieved and forged forward.

Now Aiden's a full fledged toddler with cochlear implants. I'm not ready for this hectic schedule and feel guilty for how busy we are. But I can't ignore it. He's in a prime learning stage. I wish everyday that there was an easy fix for him. I wish everyday things were easier for him. I wish everyday he didn't have to work so hard to learn to listen and speak.

But he does. So we forge forward.

I wish I was as strong as he is.
He truly is one amazing little boy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just Like a Cat

Just wanted to share a little video we captured the other night of one of Aiden's newest acts - it's hard to hear, so you have to turn up the volume as he imitates the cat drinking from the water dish (and make sure you turn off the music to the left).

Outside the fact that this makes me laugh out loud, I love it for many reasons:

  1. I need to put the cats' bowls up because Aiden tries to eat from them instead of dump them all over like he used to.
  2. He's showing the beginnings of imaginative play.
  3. He's hearing our cats eat/drink and therefore imitating the sound and actions they make!
  4. At the end, he totally reads his dad's lips (his dad is not signing, yet Aiden signs back his version of cat) ... not that I LOVE this as we don't emphasize lip reading, but isn't it amazing how he's already teaching himself to understand what's being said when he's without his CIs (he had just gotten out of a bath).

and when the cat bowls are up, Aiden will dump his snack bowl on the floor, get on his belly or all fours, and eat up his snack like a dog or cat would. Oh if he would only say "meow" or "cat" now!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mom of the Year Award ... I Think Not

Okay. So yesterday I started off my day by helping Kailyn's teacher for a good hour or so, then hurried home to get Aiden ready for therapy. As I am driving down the highway, rushing, as always, to get to where we needed to be, I realized I truly did not want to go.

It's at 11:30 and the time BUT, it's the only time that's available right now, unless I want to take a late afternoon appt. and guess what, I don't. The drive is already 30 to 40 minutes, and although Aiden's missing his morning nap, not getting lunch until we get back, I feel the need to be home for my third grader when she walks through that door. I hate it for Aiden, yet she's still too young to come home to an empty house. Not happening. Not yet.

As I'm driving, I am feeling out of control with so much to do. Have to go here, need to do this, can't believe I forgot to rent Kailyn's violin since practice started TODAY, does Ryan have lunch money, we need milk, and I'm feeling like a crazed, frantic mom with a to-do list a mile long when all I want to do is go home and play with my little monkey ... or maybe not ...

because truly, at the moment, all I wanted to do was drop Aiden off with his dad at work and go have lunch on a patio with some good wine, good food, and good friends. Now that's a good stress reliever. BUT, back to reality, NOT HAPPENING.

So as I'm driving, I'm thinking of all the things I didn't get done/things I needed to do and just start laughing. We as moms put so much on our shoulders to be PERFECT. Perfect for our kids. Perfect for our husbands. Perfect for our parents. Perfect for our friends. Perfect for everyone but ourselves. When is the last time you truly did one good thing for yourself EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.OF.ONE.WHOLE.WEEK ? Okay, that's a lot to ask, so how about at least one day in one week?

Moms tend to take care of others first and themselves last. Then throw in one or more of any of the following: having more than one child, having a child with special needs, working full or part time, being a single parent, taking care of a parent(s), etc. etc. AND not to mention, whatever personal problems that may arise. I know I am just worn out by the end of the day. Why is this? Truly, if we took care of ourselves first everyone would be a lot happier, because mom would be happier. Right?

When I got home, I did myself an injustice and looked at my schedule for the next week and wish I hadn't. I had to let it go. So I went and poured myself a glass of wine.

That's when I realized I seriously need to start scheduling in some "ME" time ... and not just saying it, but actually writing it down on those great white board calendars for Because you know, if I'm going to get that "mom of the year award" (NOT), I better take care of me first.

Well, then fast forward to tonight. Hmmm, far from perfect.

Aiden's older brother had a baseball game. This place was not close, and in an area I've never been. This meant getting there, to say nicely, sucked and was very stressful (even with Miss GPS aka Miss B&*ch). On top of it all, Aiden's daddy had to work and I knew by the time I got home it would be too late for baths. So, here I go again, rushing to get homework completed, dinner done, baths over, on the road (realizing half way there that Aiden was missing a CI - oh the stress) and back home three hours later only to realize,

I fed everyone...

BUT Aiden.

Do I still get a trophy?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First Day of School for My Little Caterpillar

Yesterday was Aiden's first day in the toddler program at The River School! They have two classes for his age that meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and he is in the Caterpillar/Butterfly class. I've already said it, but I just can't say it enough, this school is AMAZING! Now, I think I may be a little nutso for taking him here, because to get there, which is 37 miles from our house, took over TWO HOURS ... with the last four miles taking a good half hour! I obviously need to find a new route because that's just pure insanity. The drive home was MUCH better though and we were home within 45 minutes. So, needless to say, Aiden was late for his first day ... oh well, we'll get it down.

On our way to school!

Aiden's cubby with the caterpillar he colored at the teacher's homevisit.

Aiden had a wonderful first day! For the last week, we've been talking to him about school and showing him pictures of his teachers, the classroom, and the playground to help prepare him for the transition. Once in his classroom, he immediately wanted to get down and play and from then on, he didn't look up more than twice to see if we were still there. He was good to go. His speech pathologist told us he cried a total of five minutes for the three and a half hours there. Pretty good for a boy who's never left his mommy's side!

"I'll be just fine mom and dad!"

Snack time!

I LOVE to draw!

Here's what Aiden did on his first day (per an email from his teachers, which we will receive each day detailing specific activities from class):

  • Sensory Table - Use cups to scoop and pour colored water.
  • Circle Time - Teachers will introduce our name song and we will meet a caterpillar and a butterfly puppet.
  • Dramatic play/theme - We will play with caterpillar and butterfly puppets and pretend to feed them the food from the story of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar".
  • Art - We will use dot markers to decorate caterpillars for our classroom window.
  • Books - "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle and our class book, "Caterpillar, Caterpillar, Who Do You See?"
  • Mouth Time - We will have fun with bubbles and introduce our Mouth Time character.

The day ends with some fun playground time!

Aiden was very excited to see us at the end of class. After his daddy picked him up, he took one look at his teachers, waved bye-bye and blew them a kiss. The boy was ready to go. He was asleep within five minutes in the car. They wore him out!

Oh, and a lot of these pictures of him throughout the day came from his teachers to us in an email, detailing Aiden's first day! Did I tell you how excited I am for my little monkey?!?

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Lately I've been writing about our goals, our workboards,
what we're doing to help Aiden speak and hear ...
but today, I just want to say


his never-ending laughter,
it truly is contagious.

the way he says,
"ma-ma-ma-ma-ma" and "daaaad"

the kisses he gives
as he puts one hand
on each of my cheeks,
when asked for a kiss.

belly laughs at hearing the simple whisper of "t,t,t,t,t",
because he knows a tickle session is on its way.

the constant gibber gabbers and pointing,
like he's talking to everyone
and everything,
whenever we're out for a walk.

when he wakes up each morning.

the way his eyes light up,
when he discovers a sound,
then smiles so proudly.

his curiosity
to explore the many different sounds
our world has to offer.

the way he wrestles with his brother and sister,
screaming and laughing.

the excitement he shows
when he hears the simple words,
"let's go bye-bye."

how he races his cars and trucks,
"bbbrrrr, bbbrrrr, bbbrrrrr"
such a boy.
the mischief he gets into,
then crawling away
as fast as he can, laughing
as he hears me walk into the room.

Everyday I am thankful for
Cochlear Implants,
Professor Graeme Clark for inventing them,
and all the beautiful sounds
my little monkey
can hear because of them.

This journey is amazing.

and everyday I am thankful,
that God chose me,
to be Aiden's mommy, and to walk with him,
hand in hand, on this wonderful journey.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Auditory-Verbal Goals as of August 2009

About a month ago we started creating themed units to go along with Aiden's therapy. Along with the theme, his therapists and I choose:

  • a handful of books to go along with the themed unit
  • key vocabulary words
  • two or three songs or nursery rhymes to work on, whether or not they go along with the theme
  • two or three key functional word phrases (i.e. "All done!" or "Blow (mommy) a kiss!")
    • This has really helped me stay focused and not feel so overwhelmed with trying to fit it ALL in, and best of all, we are seeing some great responses from Aiden!

      I plan on posting our themed unit plans every couple of weeks (and will post our past two in separate posts), as I just LOVE how this community of deaf/hoh moms and dads share in a common goal -to help our children learn to listen and speak. There are some who do not have easily accessible resources and I hope that this is helpful. PLUS, in the same sense, I would LOVE feedback on our plans, including ideas for additional activities, songs, and/or books. These themes will be consistently revisited and the more ideas to work with, the better.

      Before I start posting our themed units, I wanted to document, for Aiden's Journey, his current Auditory Verbal Therapy (AVT) goals, which we also work on week after week. These goals do not change until Aiden has them mastered on a continuous basis.



      1. Demonstrate a conditioned response to Lings (mastered August 2009 by pointing to his ear whenever a Ling is voiced)

      2. Consistently turn to his name (mastered end of July 2009)

      3. Respond to requests to imitate words using a hand cue

      For example, I hold my hand up to my mouth and voice the /ah/ sound, then place my hand by his mouth and say "Your turn!" Aiden will imitate /m/, /ah/ at this point.

      4. Participate in rhymes/finger plays
      Since we started focusing on particular songs each week, Aiden will use the correct hand motions for two to three songs based through listening alone. We will continue to work on new songs/nursery rhymes each week.

      RECEPTIVE LANGUAGE (Cognition)

      1. Recognizes common sounds (e.g. "brrr" for car)

      2. Understands up to 20 words

      3. Follows one-step commands in routines (i.e. "wash the baby", "Give (mommy) the (spoon)."

      I am currently documenting the WASP sounds he recognizes and how many words he understands through listening alone. Aiden is progressing with one step commands, especially since we've started our themed units. For example, Aiden will blow kisses (from our bubble unit), wash the baby, and point to face parts (from our bathtime/body parts unit) when asked to do so without any visual cues.


      1. Develop an auditory feedback loop by imitating combinations after an auditory-only model (i.e. WASP program which is similar to the learning to listen sounds)

      Aiden imitates the airplane (ah), car (brrr), and ice cream (mmm), when he sees the object or picture.

      2. Approximate any 1 - 10 high frequncy words in context (e.g. more, up, hi, all done, go)
      Aiden's current expressive spoken vocabulary that he uses in context includes:

    • ahhhh (airplane) - 6/09
    • maa (more) - beg. 7/09
    • maaam or ma-ma (mom) - beg. 7/09
    • da-da or dahd (dad) - end of 7/09
    • uh-uh (up) - beg. 8/09 (not consistently)
    • ah da (all done) - beg. 8/09
    • on (for on, in, and down) - mid. 8/09
    • buh-buh (bye-bye) - mid. 8/09 (not consistently)
    • um-um (yum-yum) - mid 8/09
    • malm (milk) - end 8/09

    • 3.
      Use jargon (words mixed with sentence intonation)

      4. Speech Babble CVCV (consonant-vowel-consonent-vowel)
      For example, we use a peg board and pegs to help accomplish this and demonstrate turn taking. I start with a peg up to my mouth and voice, ba-ba-ba, then pass the peg to (dad) who voices the same, ba-ba-ba, who then passes the peg to Aiden who will hopefully imitate the action and sound and then place the peg in the board. We continue on with different vowels (bo-bo-bo or bu-bu-bu etc.) trying to get Aiden to imitate each one. The other day Aiden started this on his own, voicing da-da-da into a cup then passing the cup onto me. He still doesn't imitate much, but we're working on it.