Maverick Michael Croughan was born November 1st 2016 at 6:05pm. Any first time parent can recall the joy, anxiety and excitement that had been building over the previous nine months. The first night in the hospital seemed like a dream. Finally Mike and I were able to hold this beautiful boy and we felt more than ready to begin life as a complete family. Mavericks journey really began the following morning when a hospital tech came into the room and administered the newborn hearing screening. To our surprise he failed. The tech told us not to worry as it was quite common to fail and Maverick likely failed due to excess fluid in the ears, which sounded pretty reasonable considering he had been living in fluid for nine months. The hospital then booked us a follow up appointment a week later to retest. We didn't think much of it and continued with our joy of being new parents. After discharge we had a wonderful first week at home with our new little family.
Fast forward one week..... here we are at the (re)testing facility waiting for Maverick to be called in. To be honest I was more focused on where we would go for lunch afterwards. The retest seemed more like a formality. The test began, and a few minutes in Mike asked the Dr how Maverick was performing. The Dr shushed him and whispered that she needed to gather all the information and would not discuss the result until the testing was complete. At that moment my heart heart sank, as a mother I knew something wasn't quite right. The Dr completed the test and calmly announced Maverick failed. She said excess fluid was not the culprit, and Maverick would need further testing. The next test would be the ABR ( auditory brain response ) which would consist of electrodes being hooked up to Mavericks forehead and would reveal exactly how much Maverick can or cannot hear. We might have scheduled the ABR right then, or maybe we didn't.. the news had me so rattled and the next few minutes were a blur. We walked out to the car in complete silence and the second we got in the car we both broke down crying. I certainly was no longer focused on lunch. Did the Dr just tell us our 7 day old son was possibly deaf? In that moment we weren't exactly sure what news we had just received, but nevertheless we were devastated.
We decided to continue Mavericks testing at UCLA. For three weeks we nervously waited for Mavericks appointment to see the new audiologist. Michael and I did so much research about hearing loss in these three weeks. We remained positive and would look for even the slightest glimpse of Maverick reacting to sound. When our 100 lb golden retriever Bronx would bark near Maverick at times he would react, and sometimes he would not. Mike would clap his hands loudly near Maverick to gauge a response. Again, sometimes he would react, other times he would not . Thinking back now I 'm not really sure what these homemade tests would have accomplished, I guess peace of mind during our wait?
I distinctly remember the evening before we went to UCLA Mike said "Amber from what I've read we should be prepared for Maverick to have mild to moderate hearing loss. That would be very manageable. We do not want to hear the words severe or profound hearing loss" That comment stuck with me on our long drive to LA that early morning. Here we are, November 30th 2016 now at UCLA ( one of the best medical centers in the world) and they're now going to tell us what severity of hearing loss Maverick has. For the next two hours we watched Maverick get hooked up and unhooked to electrodes across his forehead and wires were draped all over him. That in itself was heart wrenching enough. Two hours later we had the results. There it was, the word I was dreading to hear "severe"... to be exact "severe bilateral sensorineural hearing loss" at that moment I couldn't hear another word she said. My heart sank, my body went numb, my eyes filled up with tears and I've never felt so broken and disappointed in my life. The Dr herself nearly started crying as she gave us the news, I know Mike was feeling the same. He asked many questions, he was very angry. He even wanted a retest not believing the result.
On January 10, 2017 Maverick was fitted with his new blue Phonak hearing aids. As in many situations, early detection is the key. Studies show children fitted with hearing aids prior to six months of age will achieve far more success than those fitted after six months. Thanks to UCLA Maverick began wearing his hearing aids at just two months of age. So far Maverick is off to a great start, and we are definitely observing signs of progress. The hearing aids definitley work Maverick turns his head when he hears Bronx bark, and is reactive when Mike claps his hands, even from across the room. He babbles, and screams and shrieks all day. He loves listening to music and is already binge watching his first TV show: Sesame Street.
We are learning to accept small victories. Often times it's two steps forward, one step back and we are ok with that. According to UCLA, his early start teacher and his speech therapist, by the time Maverick starts kindergarten he should be able to speak as well as any other five year old. Our goal is for him to be mainstream educated with listening and spoken language, and we truly believe he will get there. Maverick is going to have to work extremely hard and we will have to work extremely hard as parents, but we are excited for this challenge and we are choosing to embrace it!
We really don't know what will happen in the future but for now we are taking it one day at a time. There is a chance Maverick's hearing could regress further and will need to be fitted with cochlear implants. If and when that day comes we will embrace that as well. In the meantime we are going to take this opportunity to become active members of the hearing loss community and educate others on hearing loss and make ourselves available to any other families who may one day go through everything we are now navigating.
We are still adjusting to the initial heartbreak of Mavericks diagnosis. Maverick is not deaf, but he is severely hard of hearing. Hearing loss to Maverick's degree occurs in one out of every one thousand babies born. So it's not super rare, but not very common either. We figured this would be a great step in the right direction in getting involved in our new hearing loss community.
Thank you for reading our story and thanks again for supporting our happy, beautiful, smart and loving boy Maverick Croughan. Hope to see you on our walk!
The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) Walk4Hearing increases awareness about hearing loss, helps to eradicate the stigma associated with it and raises funds to provide information and support for people with hearing loss. Since 2006, the Walk4Hearing has raised more than $12 million and has become the largest walk for hearing loss taking place in cities across the United States.