Well, I decided to start a blog. We are taking the first steps towards a cochlear implant, and I believe I need to record this journey. It will be full of highs and lows, important steps and set backs, and I want to remember it all.
An introduction, to begin?
My name is Melissa. I am 28 years old and married to a wonderful man named J.D.. We have one daughter, Katrina. She is 5 years old and headed to kindergarten. She is Deaf.
Miss Kat was born 6-3-03. We had a long and dangerous labor which ended with two failed forceps attempts and then an emergency c-section. I was unconscious for the delivery, but things did not go well. Kat was born very sick. She had passed a bowel movement in-utero and then inhaled the meconium into her lungs. Meconium is sticky and black, just like tar, and it was in her lungs. Miss Kat couldn't breath. We were told that she needed to be put on a very special machine called ECMO. ECMO stands for Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation. It is a heart and lung bypass machine. We were told that if she didn't get on ECMO, she would die. We later found out that they don't use this machine unless the baby has a greater than 90% chance of death without it, and still, 50% of the babies die.
Well, Miss Kat got better. She survived. She was taken off ECMO and she seemed to be just fine. There are a lot of side-effects from ECMO. Kids can have strokes, brain damage, blindness, paralysis, deafness, circulation issues, permanent lung damage such as asthma and more. But Kat was ok. When we left the hospital 6 weeks later, she was on oxygen, but very little, and was weak, but all around pretty healthy. She was doing great.
Miss Kat's first year was very normal. She had some small kidney issues, and was on the oxygen for 6 months, but otherwise was extremely healthy. She was a very strong willed baby, bossy about the things she liked and very vocal about the things she didn't! She developed just like any other baby, and at 9 months started babbling "Mamamama". I was ecstatic! I had won the battle, she had said MY name first! But then on Daddy's birthday (at 10 months 19 days old) Miss Kat took her first steps all alone. What a birthday present!
When Kat's first birthday rolled around, she had 3 words. We started doing baby signs with her. We would watch the "Signing Time" videos and teach her the words. We started at the table one night at a restaurant. Daddy had a cookie. I signed "cookie" and voiced the word. Daddy said and signed "cookie" back and then handed it to me. Miss Kat's eyes light up. She immediately signed "cookie"and said "ooky". Daddy handed her the cookie, and we were off!
Time passed. At 15 months Kat had the same 3 words. When we went to the pediatrician I mentioned that she wasn't gaining words. The doctor said she thought it was fine, but she had to look it up! She told me it was normal for a 15 month old to only have 3 words. I wasn't sure. We continued to sign with Miss Kat. She was picking up on the signs but she stopped voicing. There was no "moe" with her "more" sign anymore. I was very concerned. When her 18 month old check up came around, I asked the doctor again. He seemed to think she was fine. I disagreed. My family has a history of speech issues. I had speech therapy as a child (a lisp), my sister was completely non-verbal at 3. She had to learn one word at at time by touching the therapist's throat and mouth to figure out how to form words. My father showed up to kindergarten unable to speak. I knew that Miss Kat needed help, so I called Early Intervention myself. I told them that I thought my daughter needed speech therapy.
That phone call changed our lives.