I've been struggling with Ainsleigh's hearing loss. Well, not so much the loss as the caring of the loss. Ainsleigh went through a phase where she absolutely would not leave her hearing aid on. I would spend one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon sitting on the floor with her and putting it in over and over and over. Then life happened, we got busy, we weren't at home as often, and I stopped putting it in.
For three weeks or so I didn't put Ainsleigh's hearing aid in at all. I thought about doing it, and I worried about the long term consequences, but I couldn't find the energy and patience to sit with her and force the issue. Plus the person who conducts our in-home visits was off in August (no funding) so I didn't have anyone calling to ask me how things were going.
Ainsleigh is doing so well I forget she can't hear. Then J calls her name from the doorway in the living room and I watch her swing her head frantically from side to side trying to find him and it hits me all over again what inability to localize actually means. It's not just a line on a form, or an explanation in her medical records. It's gently leaning forward, getting Ainsleigh's attention and showing her where to look. It's worry that she will be hit by a car someday because she's looking the wrong direction when she hears something before crossing a street. It is understanding, as our in-home counselor says, that just because we can't see Ainsleigh's disability doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
I forget that sometimes.
I am so overjoyed Ainsleigh is alive I forget to worry about her hearing loss. Who cares about an ear that fails to perform when her lungs, heart, kidneys and other major organs function as they should? And unilateral hearing loss is so tricky because speech delays don't show up until 18 months. Sometimes delays in other areas crop up, but so far Ainsleigh is hitting all of her milestones without issue.
Our in-home counselor said something the other day that hit me really hard, "I hope Ainsleigh's disability is never obvious or apparent, but if it becomes obvious you will want to ensure you've done everything you can for her."
The next day I put Ainsleigh's hearing aid in as soon as she woke up. And she left it in. Ainsleigh has been wearing her hearing aid most of the time she is awake and she's only taking it out two or three times a day.
And you can praise me for sticking with it, or her for being a little older, but the truth is that I've been leaning on Jesus for this one because I can't do it alone. It's too frustrating, overwhelming, and hard. I can't sit with Ainsleigh for an hour twice a day right now. There's too many other things going on.
It's early days, I'm not sure how tomorrow will go, or the next day, but right now Ainsleigh is wearing her hearing aid, which means I can stop worrying all. the. time. about how I'll feel if she shows delays in eight months.
In some ways I feel like we're starting over, but three weeks off really isn't that long. And thankfully life (and Jesus) leaves plenty of room for second (and third and fourth and fifth ...) chances.