My Battle Call | Rainbow Connection
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Rainbow Connection

One of the biggest challenges early on with having two children with hearing loss was how we were going to keep all these devices on these two active little kids.
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When Battle and Harper were fitted for hearing aids and then cochlear implants, one of the messages we were told by hearing specialists over and over was how important it was for them to try to wear the hearing devices during all waking hours.
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Well, I can tell you, keeping those cumbersome pieces of equipment connected to their pliable toddler ears was easier said than done. At times it was a battle.
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Our MacGyver-like skills were put to the test daily. There was no Google or Facebook group to turn to for advice, because we are that old. We rigged up a series of contraptions: snug-fits which were a kind of hook that wrapped around the ear to hold the implant in place, plastic tubing which was cut and attached to the device then looped around the ear; toupee tape placed on the skin behind the ear so the device would stick to the sticky material, and ear molds inside the ear and attached to the device for additional support.
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We tried it all. My husband became an expert at the art of jury-rigging implants. Meanwhile, I developed a superset of eagle eyes.
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And still.
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Those devices would go flying off a bazillion times a day. Lost in the bottom of toy boxes, buried in stacks of pillows, submerged in the sandbox. There was even the time one was sent sailing into a bush inside a gorilla cage at the zoo. They would fall off, be thrown off, and the kids would carry on, leaving their implants in their wake.
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Unwavering, we would put the devices on and bathe the kids in language. They would pull them off. We would put them right back on. Off. On. Off. On.
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As frustrating and exhausting as it was to figure out how to keep the devices on, the trickier part was teaching the kids why they needed to keep them on.
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Happy ear dances and songs were involved; it became a parenting style of sorts.
I grew sick of my voice:
I hear this. I hear that. I hear a bird.
 
The bird goes tweet, tweet!”
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The goal was to assign meaning to all sounds, often narrating in song and other forms of silly sound effects.
 
Chew, chew. Vroom, vroom. Beep, beep.
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The car created a challenging scenario.
I couldn’t keep my eyes on the kids’ devices while driving, yet I didn’t want them to miss the opportunity to listen to music, to sing. Inevitably, a device would end up wedged between a seat or in a mouth.
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Then one day it happened: The shift.
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When Battle was just a few months shy of his second birthday, while we were driving along, the external magnet of his device came off and he could no longer hear. The magnet cable dangled from his head, pushed against the car seat. Usually, this would trigger him to send it soaring across the car, stuck or missing…who knows where.
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But, this time as I rolled up to a red light and glanced in the rearview mirror…
His little hand reconnected the implant magnet back to his head. His eyes lit up and were wide as saucers. He pulled the magnet off again. And then he immediately reconnected it.
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A smile came across his little face, ear to ear.
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“Yes,” I shouted. “Magic ears. You hear it!”
It was as if the light had switched on for him. My daughter’s version of an “aha” moment came later.
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Oh, and that message about wearing devices during all waking hours…I soon realized it was something that might have sounded good in a clinical setting, but in reality, I allowed my kids to take short time-outs from device-wearing. This way I could have twenty minutes while cooking dinner and not have to keep my eagle eyes open and they could have listening breaks. Grace.
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Even after the shift that happened in the car, there were still more scavenger hunts for lost devices throughout the house, car, playground. We had our fair share of implants pitched across the room. But my kids were beginning to associate wearing their cochlear implants with having access to sound.
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We were making progress and starting to see a glimpse of a rainbow peeking through the fog.
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*This is an excerpt from my latest book.

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"Through the Fog: navigating life's challenges while raising kids with hearing loss"

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