We decided to get the girls hearing aids to assist them in accessing sound. Now, something that I’ve only just learned to appreciate, is that hearing aids to ears are not like glasses are to eyes. They don’t perfectly correct the way that the person hears sound; often sound may indeed become more accessible, however may still be distorted. As a result, they may help the girls to hear sounds and respond to sounds like music and loud noises and even our voices, but we are not sure what their quality of hearing is and will be like in the future, and it may very well be different for each of them. Hearing aids also amplify all sound, including background noise and “white” noise that may also blur the clarity of the speech that they hear. So, although often wonderful devices, and although we may notice an improved response to sound, the girls’ assisted hearing will never completely be like that of a hearing person.
May I take you through the first few weeks of getting our hearing aids… We chose baby pink as the colour as in the girls’ eyes, everything has to be pink and pretty. Initially we needed to consider whether we wanted to get them the same colour, and after a few incidents of watching the tug-of-war over different clothes, shoes and toys, we decided to minimize the potential chaos (and damage!) and get them identical hearing aids. Choosing the type of hearing aid was quite a confusing time, as we were initially recommended the most expensive model which then, after second and third opinions realized that they would be unnecessary for the girls, as special features which add to the cost e.g. blue tooth, are switched off in paediatrics. Eventually with the advice of a paediatric audiologist, who is also a friend, we chose what we believe to be the right aids for the girls for now. These little gadgets are really pricey, and seriously could be swapped for a pair of good sized diamond earrings for each girl, if hearing aids weren’t required.
The day to fetch the twins’ hearing aids arrived, and it really did feel like “D-day”. I was anticipating lots of fussing and so said a good few prayers! Wow, it was a morning of information overload! How to put them in (which I found very difficult at first), how to clean them, put in the batteries, work the “tamper proof” mechanism, how to keep them moisture free, how to replace the filters if they fell out, how to clean out the tubing, how to test them every day…and on and on and on. Would this ever feel easy? The first thing we did when we got home was let the girls choose stickers to “mark” them with, so that I wouldn’t get confused. Hadassah chose red hearts and Tahlita chose little blue flowers. They were very excited with the whole process. Then started the painful initiation part, which felt a bit like the extreme “potty training in 3 days” that I had successfully done with them when they were 22 months old. I thought I’d try to use the same principles that I had learned through that process. Firstly, identify that it was going to be painful, as to just prepare myself, and then commit to using no negatives! No “No’s!” No shouting, not frowns no head shaking. Just tons of positive reinforcement and making friends with the hearing aids. So… in the aids would go for 5 minutes… then they’d start fussing… off outside to feed the birds or look for flowers to distract their attention… then I’d remove the aids for a few minutes to give them a break… then the cycle would start again. Whenever they were taken out, we’d kiss them and thank our new “friends” for helping us to hear, and before putting them back in, it would involve an exaggerated smile and excitement at seeing our long lost friends again. Yep, this was quite a mission, especially that there were four at once, but we persevered. Tahlita had a bit of a rough start as her one ear mould was hurting her and then needed to be trimmed. We had to do a bit of extra winning over after her experience, but after a week or two she was wearing them all day. Gratefully, Hadassah, wore them full time from day three. In the first three weeks, I visited the audiologist 8 times with problems. They were always very accommodating, but I could tell they dreaded hearing my voice on the other end of the phone to make yet another appointment. Four months later, as soon as they wake up, they ask for their hearing aids! Hallelujah! They’re then slipped into place in two ticks. They need to have new ear moulds made every six months or so as they outgrow the old ones, which isn’t a great process (more about that another time) and hearing aids need to be replaced roughly every five years.
Eden got her hearing aids a few weeks ago. I wasn’t sure how this was going to go, as she’s my little fire ball. She was very good, and when we got home to greet her sisters whilst sporting a pair of baby pink aids for the first time, she had a very satisfied look on her face, as if she was finally part of the gang! The twins were also so excited to see her hearing aids. They came around her and hugged her and there was great celebration, as this little chubby cheeked cutie, beamed with a sense of belonging. Later, I found Hadassah giving her a “pep talk”. She had her hands on her little sister’s shoulders and very gently, yet confidently, was jabbering away (in her own language) interjected with the odd, “ok?” whilst looking at and pointing to her and Eden’s hearing aids. Eden seemed to appreciate her big sister talking through things with her.
So another initially daunting aspect, has just become part of the daily routine, and doesn’t feel like much of an extra chore anymore. Our six little pink friends get kissed and thanked before bath time, wiped down and stored in their overnight moisture absorbing jar, whilst the little round batteries have their power checked with a special device, and stored separately. The next morning, batteries in, hearing aids checked using a little tube plugged to the aid at one end and then in my ear at the other end. After the 6 “testing-1-2-3’s”, we’re good to go. Eden still takes hers out from time to time, and they’re the first things that go when she’s throwing a tantrum! It also helps to have hearing aid ‘police’ in her two older sisters who eagerly report any mischief! On a whole we’re getting the hang of it. It has been a valuable lesson in patience!