Saturday, August 6, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?

This week's "doctor adventure" for the family involved taking Wyatt to the audiologist.  He was screened (as was his sister) in the NICU, but due to his Down Syndrome, he has a follow up regimen set out by Infant and Child Development.  This was his four month (corrected) appointment.

Since the "little extra" can affect all body systems, hearing is no different.  Kids with DS often have hearing issues that are congenital or acquired.  Most acquired hearing loss is due to ear infections, but wax buildup and a lovely condition most commonly known as "glue ear" (where gunk in the middle ear literally glues up the tiny bones and prevents them from moving) can also occur.  After our last trip to the ENT we were unsure as to whether there was any fluid accumulating in the middle ear (as he could not physically see the eardrums).

After arriving late (I can't remember when I was actually on time for anything since these babies have come along), we were shown into a tiny office with a tinier sound proof room off to the side.   We were cautioned during the confirmation phone call that Wyatt would have to arrive awake and then be able to fall asleep for the testing.  I thought at the time "good luck with that...", but I did my best to keep him awake on the bus ride to to the office.  Once there I took him out and bounced him around a bit (which made him smile that anime smile) to keep him from dozing off before we were shown into the little soundproof room.  I abandoned the stroller in the hallway, set Zoe in her car seat on the floor at Quinn's feet and Wyatt and I took our place in the chair in the booth.

I'm really not good with small spaces... especially ones that remove all sound (I find the silence very unsettling, and well, loud actually).  Even with the door open and a giant window, it still felt like an execution chamber.  However, I wrapped Wyatt in the quilt that his Grandma made him and got him prepared for his test.  First they cleaned and prepped [read:  roughened up] the areas for the leads and put them on.  He had a lead behind both ears and two on his forehead.  He hated this and he was pretty annoyed at all the pushing and prodding, but he completely lost it when she had to rip one of the leads off and start over behind his left ear.  Now that he was howling, she disappeared, letting me know that I should send Quinn out when Wyatt was asleep.  Whatever you say, cupcake...

He spent the next 10 minutes fussing.  Since his ear now hurt, it must have reminded him that his mouth hurt (both the twins have teeth on the way) so he was also chewing on his fingers... which also hurt.  I sent Quinn out to get the backpack, whipped out the Baby Tylenol and gave him a shot.  5 minutes later he was snoring and we could start the test.

The audiologist almost woke him up when she jammed the first tube in his ear, but he settled down again as I held my breath.  I say tube, but in reality it was a tiny speaker that delivers a series of clicks and tones that correspond to specific frequencies.  They test a large range and are particularly interested in the high end as these are the tones that tend to be affected first.  It was also explained to me that she would be paying particular attention to the low end as well;  the low end of the spectrum would indicate if there is fluid accumulation in the ear (which would have to be dealt with as soon as possible to prevent future problems). 

She had to do two more tests on him afterwards due to the results of the first, however in the end his right ear is perfect.  She stated that his left ear had some odd results that could be attributed to a small depression in the eardrum itself, or possibly the tube wasn't in far enough (remember, he has very small ear canals).  In any event, there was no concern for any long term hearing loss (as it stands now) and we would be retested at one year of age (corrected).  Fantastic.  There was also no sign of fluid in the ear, which was also a relief.  It was also pointed out to me that no matter how loud Zoe got, she would not contribute to any hearing loss at Wyatt's part.  Which was also great news as I got to watch the audiologist wince as my daughter's screaming could be heard through the walls of the sound proof room.

Such good news (and such good behaviour on Quinn's part) earned us a trip to Dairy Queen before we headed home.  Yum!  It was hot, so both babies slept until we reached home, which allowed Quinn and I some time together.

As I mentioned last week,  I can now cut out the extra calories (for the babies... did you think I was going to mean me??)  At this point, we've dropped the formula and are just giving EBM bottle top ups.  I'm not seeing any changes in them so I plan to start doing the bottle top up every other feed and then hopefully drop it once and for all.  Wyatt's head is getting steadier every day as well, so that brings us closer to starting solids soon.  I'm back to work in just over a month and I hope to have them started on some cereal at least (they will be getting entire meals by bottle when I am at work anyway). 

This week also meant the babies had to learn to sleep alone.  We've been really worried about this actually, since they have slept so well cuddling into each other.  Lately however, they've started disturbing one another and are getting too big to sleep across the crib.  Last Saturday we moved their room around and set up their very own spaces.  I lovingly set things up so that they each had something of the others with them.  I went to bed with one ear open, waiting for the inevidable wailing to start.

It didn't.

They had the best sleep that they have ever had.  They haven't slept like that since, to be honest, but they slept that night for sure.  Now when Zoe wakes up every hour or so, she isn't necessarily waking up her brother (just me).  Which is a good thing as Wyatt needs his rest.

More good news... it is always welcome around here.  We still step cautiously and take nothing for granted with the kids, Wyatt especially.  However, with each new smile, with each little chuckle, he is progressing.  Yesterday I got to see him waking up and when he saw me standing beside him, he smiled broadly.  That was a fantastic moment.  Tonight after dinner, when he reached out for Quinn who was sitting beside us... that was another fantastic moment.  We are slowly skipping from moment to moment with him as more of his personality comes out and he becomes more of the person he will be.  He studies our faces as we make sounds at him and he tries so very hard to mimic them back.  He 'talks' to us in a series of babbles and coos that are unique to him, including one that sounds like "Hi-lo" that he says a lot when he sees us.  Just his way of saying "hello", we guess.  There is progression; it is slow.  It's slowness serves to illuminate each of the new things that much more, to put it in the spotlight so that we can appreciate exactly what an accomplishment this particular thing really is.  Each new thing is so marvellous, so special, it is almost a gift.  A smile here.  A purposeful touch of my face there.  Gifts.  Each and every one.

Every single day.

We read you loud and clear, little man.

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  1. I finished reading that with a sigh of contentment, yes the gifts they give are indeed precious. But that is not to say that I won't, of course, remind of all the 'gifts' that they give you when you're complaining about stinking diapers and your walls being drawn on *snigger*.

    1. Hee hee. It is true. There is a lot of poopy stuff (both literally and figuratively), but they have the gift of making that all go away with a little touch.


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