Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Weston's Ears

If you read our last post you know that Weston had struggles after birth. His fever was so high that they gave him an antibiotic. Before giving him the drug I was required to sign a waver agreeing to give him the drug because it has been known to cause hearing loss (1 in every 10,000 cases). Because he was given this drug they were required to do a brainwave hearing test before he could leave the hospital. Which Weston passed in his left ear but failed in his right. It is actually common for babies to fail the hearing test in the hospital because of fluid stuck behind the ears etc. So from there we were sent to a hearing specialist who retested his hearing.

When we arrived at the hearing specialist he was confident that Weston would pass because 98% of the babies he retests from the hospital do. I knew something was wrong right away. Our doctor kept looking at the screen then going over and rechecking to make sure everything was hooked up right. He explained that Weston wasn't responding at all to speech level sound in his right ear and compared it to the results from his left. After that he did a pressure test to make sure all the parts of Weston's ear were functioning and that there wasn't liquid from birth stuck there. Weston passed that test which means that his hearing loss is not because of a damaged ear but is caused by nerve damage. Though all the parts of his ear are functioning because the nerves are damaged they are not sending signals to the brain so his brain doesn't register that sound is there. Of course we were the 2% that didn't pass the hearing test and the 1 in 10,000 that is affected by the antibiotic.

Once we discovered that this was not just a fluke we were sent to see a pediatric hearing specialist to see what we could do about helping him. She retested his ear to see exactly at what levels he was hearing. Ears are really complicated and I'm still learning myself but I'll give you a crash course on how it works.

Hearing test results are charted on an audiogram which measures both volume and pitch. Below is an illustrated version that kind of gives you an idea of where everyday sounds would be charted.

Weston's right ear shows a pretty flat horizontal line right on the border of severe and profound hearing loss ( around 100 dB). Meaning when he is about 50 ft away from the sound he can hear a truck, lawn mower, chain saw, motorcycle. airplane, siren, jack hammer, band, and firecrackers. Just like vision decreases overtime hearing also decreases over time. It is expected that Weston's ear will only get worse and not better. Our pediatric specialist suggested we fit him with an aid as soon as possible in order to keep the nerves working and slow down the deterioration process. So when he was 2 months old he got his first hearing aid. 

That brings us to a discussion on hearing aids. While hearing aids are great tools they do not restore perfect hearing to the ear. Hearing aids as a general rule only restore up to half of what is lost. So with his hearing aid Weston is able to hear around 50dB. As you can see in the chart that is right around where speech becomes audible. So even with his hearing aid Weston will struggle to understand conversation from his right side. The other thing that people don't realize about hearing aids is they are extremely annoying, especially in young kids. Hearing aids work like a microphone. So if Weston lays on it or puts his ear right up to something it will give feedback just like a squeaky microphone. It's also tricky to take it in and out for naps, baths, and bedtime. And because they run on batteries it will be just your luck that you forget an extra when your out for the day or on vacation and the battery dies. Also, they aren't water proof and keeping it out of a six month old's mouth is quite the challenge!!!

Ideally Weston will benefit from the hearing aid and enjoy using both of his ears. However, many people who have perfect hearing in one ear say that the artificial noise from the hearing aid is distracting and choose to just adapt to their one ear. Having hearing only in one ear can cause balance and spacial issues (which we have already started to see in Weston). Weston is a little behind developmentally because he can't balance. So he's not sitting up, crawling, rolling over, etc. He also gets really confused when he hears loud sound. When sound is made he almost always turns towards his left and continues to turn in that direction until he has located the sound. 

That being said Weston also has extra abilities and strengths. His eyes (in compensation from his ears) are extremely alert, open, and focused. He recognizes even just the slightest emotion from facial expression. He can mimic facial expressions and has a never ending plethora on hilarious expressions. He is extremely focused. He doesn't get easily distracted by sound so as long as whatever he is looking at is visually stimulating he will stare uninterrupted for hours. He also sleeps really well. We live right on the railroad tracks and even though a train rolls through our backyard in the middle of nap time Weston sleeps on. 

Right now we are trying to keep his nerves active in an effort to save his hearing by using his hearing aid. People often ask about sign. While he should be able to carry on an intimate conversation normally, group settings will be a challenge. So I am learning sign language so I can more easily communicate with him in these types of settings. 

While his ears have been somewhat of a challenge they have also been a blessing. I'm learning a skill that is blessing my life immensely that I would have never learned otherwise. Weston will also be blessed with challenges that will build his character. People often have a lot of questions so feel free to ask anything!!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Weston Samuel Hyde- Birth Story

Here is both mine and Jesse's account of Weston's birth. It's really long but overall a good read. If you want the details of the birth read my account. If you want the emotional experience of the birth read Jesse's. Better yet just be well rounded and read both!

Weston's birth from mommy's eyes:

It was the 12th of November and it was for me, just another school day. I woke up feeling pretty good. I went to class at 7:45 in the morning. Towards the end of the class I started to feel uncomfortable. By my 9:45 class my back felt like someone was stabbing me with a knife. I spend most of my second class listening to the lecture from the hallway, pacing, and stretching. By the time I got home my back was absolutely killing me! I had barely sat down with my heat pack when Jesse called. Our real estate agent had a house she wanted to show us. So I met Jesse at her office and we drove out to the middle of no where to look at this house (luckily her car had heated seats). When we got home I got my heat pack and laid down to take a nap.

I was woken up a short time later by the dull stabbing in my back. Jesse called to see if he could get anything on his way home from work and I told him about my back. I jokingly said, "I think I'm in labor!" Though I never imagined I was actually IN labor. The contractions started to come and I was still uncertain I was in labor. I kept thinking they were just braxton hicks. I wasn't due for 2 weeks and everyone said my first baby would be late. I think I was trying to pretend I wasn't in labor because I wasn't ready to have a baby. We hadn't even packed the hospital bag or typed our birth plan!

When Jesse got home we started timing my contractions they were 2 minutes apart but were only lasting 30-45 seconds. I took a shower while Jesse started typing our birth plan. Soon my contractions were a minute and a half apart but still only lasting 30-45 seconds. We decided that now would probably be a good time to pack the bags. That's when things started moving faster than I was ready for. (Warning: if your not comfortable with birth or descriptions of the bodily fluids skip to the next paragraph.) At about 6:30 pm I started bleeding more than just typical labor spotting. I called my midwife and she said I should come up to the hopsital to be on the safe side. We left thinking we would be back and didn't take anything with us. When we got there I was only dilated to a 3 but my contractions were a minute apart.  My midwife said the bleeding wasn't normal but wasn't super concerning either. Since I was almost a four (the minimum they like you to be dilated to before letting you stay at the hospital) my midwife said I should go walk and then they would check me again. At that point if I hadn't progressed they would send me home to labor for awhile more. I went for my walk, came back, and was only monitored for a few minutes before Weston's heart rate fell practically off the charts. They continued to monitor me for the standard 20 minutes and his heart rate dropped twice more and the bleeding became more heavy. Even though I was still only dilated to a 3 my midwife came in to inform me that the bleeding combined with his little heart rate stunts meant I was at the hospital to stay until I had the baby (this was about 8pm). ***Shout out to Ben for finishing packing our hospital bag and bringing it up to us!!

Every time I stood up, changed positions, or tried to walk around Weston's heart rate plummeted. So I was confined to my bed, hooked up to machines, for the rest of labor. My original intention was to do a natural labor. However, my plan was to use movement, hot tubs, and back massage/pressure to help me get through it. Not only was I stuck in bed but I had to lay in very specific positions without moving in order to keep his heart rate in a healthy zone and avoid a c-section. I labored like that for about 2 hours but finally threw in the towel. I was having extreme back labor and in the positions I was laying Jesse couldn't even reach my back to apply pressure. Despite what I had originally wanted I went ahead and got the epidural. After that things seemed to fly by. Occasionally Weston's heart would dip and a team of nurses would come in to rotate my position. I tried to sleep but only slept for 4-5 hours. It was worse than waiting for Christmas, I was so excited I couldn't manage to stay asleep. While Jesse slept I watched movies. Finally at 7:30 the morning of the 13th I was so bored I made Jesse get up and play cards with me. As soon as we started playing my midwife came in and checked me and said I was ready to push. For someone who has been laboring for 21+ hours that is great news!

I pushed for about 50 minutes or so. It was pretty intense though. We were trying to push as hard and fast as possible because Weston had been/was so stressed. His heart dipped a million times during pushing and all I could think was if I don't push this baby out soon they're going to have to do a c-section. That was great motivation. Before I knew what was happening Weston was out and crying, I was crying, and Jesse was crying. Weston only got to stay with us for 5 minutes before he was taken to be weighed, measured, etc. During all of that they were trying to get him to breath to a point where they could pass him. He was only breathing at 80% efficiency and to be cleared babies have to be breathing at at least 90% efficiency. They took him to the NICU to see if they could clear his lungs to improve his breathing. While there, they discovered he also had a very high fever. Unable to improve his breathing combined with his fever he was admitted to the NICU. Jesse got to go in and see him (not hold him) but I had to wait until I had taken a shower, after my epidural wore off. Even though my epidural had only worn off half (at this point I was really regretting getting it) I insisted they help me into the shower so I could leave my delivery room and go see my baby! It was the most tortuous hour of my life.

I remember being wheeled into the NICU. I was on one side of Weston and Jesse on the other. Surrounded by tons of machines and only being able to reach in with my finger and touch him and Jesse doing the same. At that moment I tried to comprehend what was happening. I was a mother. At that point I remember feeling extremely guilty. In every birth story ever told the mother talks about how when she first held the baby she was filled with an incomprehensible love for that child. I loved Weston from the moment I saw him but it wasn't as "lay down my life" intense as I imagined it would be. I assure all moms out there that if you don't feel it at first it will come. Without even realizing it you will look at your perfect miracle one day and feel the most powerful serge of intense and warming love for them.

Jesse and I didn't get to hold Weston for the first 24 hours of his life. Holding him was hardly the experience I thought it would be. With all the wires and tubes it was so hard to hold him let alone feed him. Despite the difficulty it was worth it to have that baby close to me.

Weston's birth was scary. I was upset when I didn't have the natural peaceful personal experience I wanted with my husband and our new son. I wanted so many things from the experience that I ended up getting, just not in the way I expected. Jesse and I had spent 9 months praying and pondering decisions about Weston's birth, though I felt like hardly any of our decisions mattered. Throughout the whole experience I remember feeling so calm. I wasn't worried about Weston and I was happy in a way that he was in the NICU because I knew they were helping him to be healthy and strong. I know that I could not have felt the peace I felt throughout the whole experience if it wasn't for my Heavenly Father. I knew he had a plan for me and for my family. I knew that I would have all eternity to hold my baby and make up for the time lost right after his birth. I knew that Weston would come home healthy and strong. My blessing was to be able, in that moment, to see through Heavenly Father's eyes. To see the whole picture and because I could see it, I was calm. As a new mother that was the greatest gift I could have had. I for some reason am having troubles writing my feelings about this experience. It was such a special and spiritual experience that I am blocked from recalling all the emotional details. However, I can say that this experience was like taking a little glimpse into heaven.

Weston's birth from daddy's view:

The whole experience to me taught me two things: childbirth is a miracle and my wife (and womanhood) is amazing.

Everyone always talks about how childbirth is a miracle and that you won't know what that means until it happens. I have to agree. We had taken the local child-birthing class, read a few books, counseled with friends and family, and made our (very specific) plans. We thought we were as good as child-birthing pros. But in the end, all that stuff hardly mattered. Not so say preparation for such an event is unnecessary - quite the contrary - but I'll get to that later.

It also seems like a majority of people we talk to had some sort of complication or scare during pregnancy or delivery. Most making reference to their "miracle baby." The fact is, every child is a miracle. There really are so many things that can (and do) go wrong. The fact that Weston made it through some of the hard things he went through during pregnancy and birth is truly a miracle. And by "miracle" I mean a gift given through God's grace. There is simply no other explanation. Weston came into our lives through God's will. It was completely in his hands (well, you know, after we did our little part there at the beginning).

Since he came two weeks early, it all just kind of sprung up on us so quickly. We were upset/distressed/concerned combined with about 50 other different emotions when his little heart started to show some issues. It was so hard to believe that it was actually happening. And absolutely nothing was going how we planned. I don't think I actually grasped what was going on until I saw the top of his little head stick out. That's also when I realized, "Oh crap, I have no idea how to take care of this little guy." But little by little, push after push, Weston started to make his way into the earth. When he finally made it out, all fear was gone for a moment and all that was left were love and joy. For a minute, that place was like a temple to me. I stood bawling in amazement at what had just happened. God had entrusted me with one of His special little children. And he was absolutely beautiful. That is an indescribable feeling.

This is where the second part comes in. Rachel is an amazing woman. We men think we are tough, but I'll tell you what, I don't think I could have handled what Rachel went through as well as she did (if at all). Not just the pain of having a baby pushed out of your body. But her attitude and her spirit were so bright, so positive, so faithful. Though she was in pain and nothing was going right, she showed such faith in herself, in her God given gifts, and in her Heavenly Father who she knew was in control.

Even though it was far from the best delivery experience, I really am happy that we took the classes and read the books and stuff. I can't imagine what it would have been like to go into that experience ignorantly. I don't think we would have been able to be as calm as we were. Not only were our minds at ease (mostly), our spirits were open to the comfort and peace of the Savior.

Rachel got to hold Weston for a few minutes right after he was born but I didn't even get to touch him before he was rushed off to the NICU. I got to go see him while Rachel was recuperating and it just broke my heart to see him lying there all hooked up to who knows what. I went back to Rachel and just sat there and cried. I'm still not really sure why I was so upset. I guess I was a little scared. It was like the most glorious thing in my life was right in front of me and I couldn't enjoy it. I guess I just get a little tender when it comes to my kid. I still didn't even get to hold him until the next morning.

Through all of the worry and stuff, Rachel was my rock. She was entitled to be the one to hold him close and feed him and bond with him and share these special moments with him, but she couldn't. But she was so patient and calm and comforting to me. I always knew I married an angel. That day, I really saw her amazing power and strength. And I've continued to see it in the past months as she has cared for him with such love and patience.

We love our Weston and are so grateful for the blessing he is in our lives. What a joy these past six months have been! He was indeed worth it!!