Friday, October 5, 2012

Lauren and her two ears

 Lauren had her First Birthday just two days after her second CI surgery.  She was feeling great, running around and playing with our family members who made it to the big party and celebration.  If you look closely at this picture, she has a bruise on her cheek, which was left from the facial nerve monitor.
Lauren's 1st Birthday
She has been walking really well since around 11 months.  In this picture, you can tell - she is on the move!  We were waiting outside for big brother Derek to get home from school.
Lauren is on the move
Big brother has some greeters after school
 Lauren's activation on the right side was on August 30. It went so well. When we were playing the beeps and going through the electrodes, she would wave and acknowledge the sound right away. It has been an easy transition to two "ears".
Waiting with big sis Taylor for 2nd CI activation
Activation of right CI, with Tami
 We actually went back the next day to make sure the electrodes were all set properly and gauge her reaction to sound, ensuring we didn't see any kind of negative feedback.

Day 2 of right CI activation
 Lauren is so lucky (and Mom & Dad are so thankful) that we have a listening coach for Lauren in big sister Taylor.  She is just the best big sister, all around!  As a parent of a CI baby, one of the toughest things to deal with is not being able to ask the baby -- "how does that sound?  does it hurt?  what does wind sound like?  is that ... (fill in the blank) too loud?  is it irritating?"  They can't speak for themselves so we try to be especially sensitive and aware.  We are so glad that we can ask Taylor those questions now, and that she can help us understand what might be happening with Lauren's new "hearing."  And we know that when they get a little older, they might feel different and having each other's understanding and support will be a comfort.
Taylor's ears got pierced!
 Taylor got her ears pierced!!  Both sides...  it might have taken a little coaxing and two trips to the store, but we have two pierced ears now.  She is pretty proud!  Pre-school for Taylor is going very well.  She goes 5 afternoons per week.  She is in a local Christian preschool.  The local school district special ed coop is providing deaf education and speech pathologist services.  She has no speech deficiencies other than age-appropriate challenges, such as the pronunciation of L.  We continue to work on proper word order and grammar, although those challenges are also typical for an early 4 year old.  The deaf educator is working on issues such as classroom acoustics, how Taylor performs in background noise, and general language acquisition.  She is a good resource to us, as we prepare for Taylor to be in the public school system, as well as to the pre-school teachers at school.

We are filling Taylor's time outside of school with fun things such as Gymnastics, Tumbling, Dance and Swimming lessons.  Lucky for us that the YMCA providing these classes is only 5 minutes away; otherwise, we would be doing too much running.  On the weekends, both Derek and Taylor are playing soccer.  We are managing to keep the "ears" on in all of these activities.  It takes a little creativity but the effort is well worth it.

I continue to be amazed at the awesome responsibility we have as parents...  as we see our 5 year old son grow, we are starting to really have to coach through self-esteem, teamwork, confidence...  all kinds of values-based issues that will only get tougher.  It makes the academic learning seem easy at times.  Being a parent can be tough!

I also am absolutely impressed at the ability of the human mind to learn.  Lauren just picks up things through observation.  Hand her a toothbrush, and she will brush her teeth.  Hand her a hairbrush, and she will brush her hair. If she sees a purse, she will carry it around on her arm.  Let her walk around outside, and she will eat a rock.... Now, wait a minute?  Who did she see do that?  ha ha ha.  Babies and the things they will put in their mouths.  But in all seriousness, she is always watching, listening, and learning.  I have read that 90% of language acquisition is through incidental learning, and I believe this is accurate.  So with that in mind, I hope our whole family keeps on being the loud, crazy communicators that we are -- Lauren will be overwhelmed with the incidental language of love!

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