March 18, 2009

Having More Children

Dan and I had always talked about having more than one child. However, once I knew exactly what needed to happen for Hadley to be a successful listener and speaker, I put all thoughts of another child on hold. All of the research supported the fact that the first three years were critical for any child, and I didn’t want to do anything would detract from that for Hadley. My own brother and I are almost exactly four years apart, and that worked well for us, so I thought I had plenty of time. Our focus was to do all we could to develop Hadley’s listening and speaking abilities. Everything else could wait.

By the time Hadley was three, she frequently talked about having a brother or sister. Many of her friends were becoming big sisters, and she wanted to know when she would as well! Dan and I were well aware that any child of ours had a 25% chance of inheriting a Connexin 26 hearing loss. Of children with Connexin 26 hearing loss, approximately 60% of them have a profound loss or more, requiring a cochlear implant. Hadley fell into the 20% category of “just” a severe loss. We were quite confident at this point in our abilities to be capable parents and strong advocates for a hearing aid using child. Cochlear implants came with a different category of concerns and challenges. Could we handle that? Hadley’s first few years had been extremely intense. Could we continue to give her what she needed and simultaneously do the same for another child? While diagnosing the cause of Hadley’s hearing loss, the genetic counselors informed us of the option to have other children through fertility treatment and screen for the Connexin 26 gene. Was that the way to go? There were no clear answers (believe me, we asked many parents and professionals!). By now, we were used to thinking of Hadley as a person first, her hearing loss second. Both Dan and I are the oldest children in our families; we wanted that experience for Hadley too. Hadley continued to tell us that she wanted a baby in the family. Our family just didn’t seem complete at three.

As fate would have it, our family wasn’t complete at four either. In December 2006, Hadley became the big sister to twin boys, Conor and Brady. Although we had prepared ourselves—and Hadley—for the news of another hearing loss, both Conor and Brady passed their newborn hearing screen at the hospital, as well as subsequent ABRs at Children’s Hospital Boston. They are healthy, hearing boys who challenge our parenting in a host of new ways! Being a big sister has expanded Hadley in countless ways. Other than choosing AVT as our communication methodology, giving her this expanded role in our family is among the best decisions we have made for her—and us.

Hadley (5 1/2 years) with Brady and Conor (2 months), February 2007

Hadley sings to Conor (4 months old), April 2007

No comments:

Post a Comment