All ears

Af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing di­ag­no­sis, Krystal was de­ter­mined to come to her daugh­ter’s aid...

Real People - - HEALTH & HAPPINESS -

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

The first time Saphire heard my voice She’s fully part of the fam­ily now

Technology has rocked her world

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