William’s Best Gift

 Ang & Will

The 15 June 2012 was one of the happiest days of my life

William’s birth filled me with instantaneous love. Truth is I wasn’t expecting such an immediate connection, partly due to the facts that Will was our unexpected surprise and that my life was already full on. Just four weeks before his birth my oldest son had been diagnosed with Aspergers added to this was the fact that I was just entering my second year of a university degree to become a primary school teacher -my childhood dream job.

The day after his birth Will failed his SWISH test. My step mother Jan and dad were visiting during this time so were present at this test. I remember Jan just bursting into tears when he failed and I was comforting her saying don’t worry its probably fluid he will pass tomorrow

The 17 June 2012 was the day that “my on cloud nine happy bubble” burst into bits. Will failed his second SWISH test and then I knew he really was deaf, I had felt it in my gut.

A month later my instinct was confirmed at his testing. My husband prayed so hard before this day and said he would run up the street naked if William passed the ABS tests. We were told that day that William had a bilateral profound hearing loss.

I just lost it. I cried, my husband Brent cried, we cried for everything Will looked like he would never experience.

  • How will we talk to him?
  • How will I tell him I love him?
  • How will he listen to music or even go to the movies?

All of a sudden I asked the testing audiologist Katie “can he get a cochlear implant?”

In October 2012 I met with A/Professor Catherine Birman, SCIC Cochlear Implant Program’s medical Director, at Gladesville, where she arranged for Will to have an MRI that confirmed that he was indeed a cochlear implant candidate.

All this time Will had relied on hearing aids for nerve stimulation and he had no access to speech sounds. He received his cochlear implants when he was only five and a half months old a Children’s Hospital Westmead.

I stayed with him until the anesthetic set in and my little boy was asleep. After about three and a half hours my beeper went off and Dr Birman came out to see me. I will never forget that moment she told me she had successfully implanted Will bilaterally and that test indicated that surgery was a complete success.

‘You are my families hero’ was my heartfelt response. Dr Birman is our family’s champion who gave our son sound.

On 4 December 2012 our amazing and very patient audiologist Samantha at the Gosford centre, made my wish come true. With the first beep, as she switched William’s implants on, my boy responded. Moments later I was finally able to tell my son in words that I loved him.

A year has past, wow what a year!

Our first word: mum

We were shopping and dad was pushing Will along in the trolley when Will held out his arms to me and said ‘mum’. 100 phone calls, tears and face book status up-dates all round

This year has been full of appointments but we are lucky the post operative services that the SCIC Cochlear Implant Program provided us such as mapping, and auditory therapy through the centre at Gosford, reassure us that William will be OK.

That said our auditory therapist Sarah is awesome. She knows how to inspire and motivate me. It’s a lot of pressure for a parent to create just the right learning opportunities for children with cochlear implant. I have learnt this year even though it’s a labour of love a lot of patience and practice is required.

So I’ll end by saying that this year we have had some amazing ups and downs. The downs are becoming fewer and far between. Who would have thought the sound ‘b’ would bring me to tears, but when Will did it after weeks of input, I did!

Our journey to sound has brought some wonderful people into our lives. The team at Gosford have become more to me than just professionals who help me and teach William, they have also become my friends.

William’s hearing loss is something I will never get over but with time and support of friends both new and old, as well as family, I’m happy to say William’s last tests revealed his receptive language is rated as 73. This is amazing as it puts him in the mid-range of a normal hearing child his age.

So, what a year we have had: I’m entering my fourth year of University, my oldest son completed kindergarten and William is learning to talk.

Angel GBel-Cook

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