After a devastating diagnosis, Krystal was determined to come to her daughter’s aid...
The curtain round my hospital bed whizzed open and shut as midwives, cleaners, doctors and auxiliaries came in and out. Busy, busy, busy!
Still, snuggling up with 9lb 13oz Saphire, I was blissfully oblivious.
With masses of dark hair and deep blue eyes, my third baby was a real beauty.
And she had a piercing cry that put those of her elder sister and brother – Maci-jai, four, and Tyreece, three – to shame.
My curtain flew open again. This time, a midwife wanted to perform the newborn hearing test.
‘I’m afraid she’s failed the test,’ she announced. ‘But don’t worry, it’s quite common.
‘Newborn babies often have lots of gunk in their ears,’ she added. ‘Come back in a week for another test – she’ll probably be fine.’
So we weren’t too worried. Saphire started putting on weight and slept well at night.
A week later, I was back at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex, for the followup hearing test, where clinic staff put gadgets on Saphire’s ears and sensors on her head and neck.
‘It looks as if Saphire has some hearing loss, but we’ll do more tests to be sure,’ a doctor told us.
Tears streaming, I phoned my hubby, Tom, a railway worker.
‘They say Saphire could be deaf,’ I blubbed. ‘Oh, Tom, what will her life be like?’
‘Even if she is, we’ll love her and look after her just the same,’ he tried to comfort me.
Two weeks later, we were back at the hospital for three hours of tests. My mum, Pennie, came too.
A consultant told us, ‘Saphire has moderate sensorineural hearing loss in both ears. It isn’t going to get better, and it might get worse in the future.’ We were told that Saphire might be able to hear very loud noises, like a barking dog – but not birds tweeting, or people talking.
‘Will she ever be able to hear our voices?’ I begged.
‘Hearing aids might help,’ the consultant reassured me.
‘I didn’t even know babies could have them!’ I gasped.
Over the next few weeks, moulds were taken of Saphire’s ears to have hearing aids made.
Meanwhile, I noticed that she didn’t look at me when I chatted. And she’d sleep on the sofa without stirring as her brother and sister played around her.
After 12 weeks, I took Saphire to have her hearing aids fitted. There was a piece that went into the ear like a headphone, and something that looked like a microphone at the back.
‘Mummy loves you!’ I told Saphire. She looked into my eyes and gave me the biggest grin ever.
‘She heard me!’ I cried. Back home, Saphire started turning towards me when I spoke, and babbled happily when I sang, ‘Row, row, row your boat.’ She loved shaking her bunny rattle, too.
I’d worried that her hearing loss might affect her speech – but one day, as I was saying ‘Mama’ over and over to try to get her to copy me, she interrupted me. ‘Dada!’ she babbled.
We’re still waiting for tests to see if there’s a genetic cause behind Saphire’s hearing loss.
But we won’t let anything hold her back – and we’re sure she’ll be very glad to hear that.
Krystal Hockley, 23, Chelmsford, Essex
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