Saturday, 17 December 2011
With Aaliyahs birthday approaching, I find myself going back to the day of her birth, and the days that shortly followed.
Most people look back at the birth of their children and smile, that even through the pain they were handed this precious little bundle to love. I dont. I look back and remember the anxiety, the pain, the uncertainty. It was nothing short of horrific.
I will never forget the look on my mums face when she was born, a look of sheer horror. The room went from being calm to a frenzy of what seemed like a million people.
I remember asking if Aaliyah was ok, when no one else replied, my mum said "of course she is sweetheart". What i didnt know at the time was that mum really had no idea if she was fine or not, she just didnt have the courage to tell her daughter that the child she had just laboured 50 plus hours for was dead. ?they eventually got a whimper out of her and she was whisked away to NICU, leaving me to be pieced back together. It took them over 3 hours. They wheeled me to see her but I was too sick and passed out. It was another 24 hours before I would see my baby.
My recovery was horrible. Months of doctors visits, physios and even another hospital stay. But nothing can compare to my emotional recovery.
When Jose discovered her little ear, they quickly pointed out that there could be many other defects too. Kidney failure and Heart Problems were the first to be mentioned. We were devastated. I felt like a failure.
The first few months of Aaliyah's life were spent going in and out of hospital. We were told that she would have kidney problems, heart problems, eye sight issues, growth issues and could be retarded.
She would need therapy, hearing aids and on and on and on it went.
Our hearts ached. Jose was in denial, I just about had a melt down.
Its interesting looking back now, seeing how far she has come, indeed how far we all have come. She has defied the doctors. Through all the tests, everything came back perfect. No kidney issues, no heart issues and certaintly not mental retardation. She has excelled in so many ways. She is a fighter our little Aaliyah is. Her speech and language test at least a year above what she should be. She is a social butterfly. The cheekiest little muffin that their ever was.
I look back at her birthday with mixed emotions, heartbreak for what might have been and absolute pride. She has proved them all wrong, from the child that was born with out a heart beat, to a little girl full of life. She makes all those around her smile.
In some ways I am glad that this is the path we have to walk. My faith in humanity and the spirit of kindness has been restored. Its been downright hard, but it has made us who we are today. It has made Aaliyah who she is today. We are stronger, she is stronger. I couldnt imagine her any other way. A bright, bubbly bundle of energy with killer curls. My heart aches with love for her.
I would go through it all again in a heartbeat if I had to, because our little Aaliyah, well she makes it all worth while.
Happy birthday for Wednesday little princess, Mummy and Daddy love you to the moon and back. xxxxx
It has been nearly 2 years since that bittersweet day.
Monday, 5 December 2011
New banner, with slogan!!! Thanks Jose
Clips at our little stall
Part of our stall
Aaliyah at the Hear and Say play groupWe had a very successful market stall on sunday, raising nearly $900 with a few more payments still pending (which should bring our total to around the $1000 mark).
There are a few people that I would like to publicly thank for their help, in no particular order:
Jose - designing our banner and business cards
Janine - for your sewing skill and your dedication
Pip - for printing out our tags, and allowing us to take over your house in our market prep frenzy
Sandra - for watching miss Aaliyah for a few days so that I could focus on preparing
Bec- chief babysitter of miss H on the day
Jess- for making clips, spreading the word and helping man the stall on the day
Heidi and Petter - without your support, and spruking of our stall it would not have been a success (Petter was also the lucky winner of our raffle), and heidi for your clip making skills
Nicola - thanks for helping with the decorations, the stall and for clip making
Hilary - For helping assemble our tags, Hilary is currently raising money for canteen by doing the kokoda trail next april, support her by visiting her site www.everydayheroes.com/hiking4heroes
Diana Hurman and Diane - Thank you for your wonderful sewing skill and contributing SOOOOO much to our stand
Alicia - for selling chocolates for us at your lolly stand
Merlo Coffee for the wonderful hamper that you donated that we were then able to raffle!!!
Im sure that there are a billion more people that I need to thank but that list will have to do for now.
We have also gotten business cards printed, if you would like one (or 10) email me at email@example.com, your address so that I can send you some!
We are so excited at how thing are going and looking forward to an even bigger and more successful 2012.
Now onto a completely different note. Aaliyah attended the Hear and Say playgroup break up. The media were there, so chances are her photo will pop up somewhere. RACQ care flight donated Christmas teddy bears for all of the children as well as a book. A lot of the supporters of the Hear and Say centre were there so it was a very big and busy day. If you are a fan of the hear and say facebook page, you will notice that Aaliyahs photo is featured. Aaliyah was a bit overwhelmed that day as it was very busy and there was a lot of noise, something that children with hearing impairment struggle with.
We are noticing more and more Aaliyah's struggle with directional hearing, further cementing that we have made the decision to correct her hearing loss by going to America to get the atresia repair.
Aaliyah has also had trouble keeping her sunglasses on, she gets very frustrated that they do not stay on straight. We cannot wait until she has her new ear and she can wear her sunnies with no issue.
Tuesday, 15 November 2011
I cant believe all the support that Aaliyah is getting, it is truly nothing short of a miracle.
Today, my mothers butcher gave her $50 towards Aaliyahs operation. She has been going to the same butcher for years and always orders the same. She got talking to him about Aaliyah and he went out back and came back with the money.
Another person paid $105 for $8 worth of chocolates. BLESSED!!!
We are busy preparing for our market stall on December 4. Hillsong Church is having their Christmas Spectacular and are having a market area (as well as rides, entertainment etc) and through some connections (thanks Petter and Heidi ) we are now able to have a stall. We will be selling bunting, table runners, swing top/bloomer sets, hair clips, aprons (childrens and adults, including some parent/child sets). We will also be selling chocolates and have a donation jar set up. We are getting business cards made up with her details (including bank account) to hand out. So if you are in the brisbane Area, pop by and say Hi :) we would love to meet some of her supporters.
Thursday, 13 October 2011
gosh i am slack with the blog post. My aim is to do 2 per week.... I will get there :)
The first weekend in October Jose, myself and my mum went along to the third annual Microtia/Atresia conference. We are so fortunate that this conference is held in our city. Parents came from all over Australia and New Zealand to attend. The conference was held on the saturday and on the sunday we had the option of having individual consultations with the presenting professionals. Morning Tea, Lunch and Afternoon tea were provided and it was only $35 pp. A blessing, particularly for those that had to travel from interstate. We sat behind a family that had traveled down from Townsville, with their one week old baby in tow, now that folks, is dedication.
We are sooooooo glad that we were able to attend. It reinforced to us that we really are doing what we feel is the best for Aaliyah. Notice I didnt say what was best, just what is best for Aaliyah. I was disappointed in the Australian doctors that spoke. They are quite behind as far as best practice. They offer a similar (ish) surgery to the doctors in the USA but will not operate until the child is old enough to ask for the surgery, very poor results and they do not believe that hearing aids make a difference.
We were so impressed with Dr. Reinisch and Dr. Roberson. All is looking good for Aaliyah to get her surgery with them mid 2013. We just need to make sure that she weighs 15kgs!!!!! I cannot wait for her to have a normal ear and more importantly near normal - normal hearing!
Aaliyah continues to startle easy to noises without her hearing aid on. Now that she has her hearing aid back, her lisp is slowly improving, something we are very grateful for. Her behavior has also markedly improved. It truly is amazing the difference it makes. I am worried for summer being around the corner as the headband is quite thick and is quite hot for her to wear.
Fundraising is going well. We are still selling the cadbury fundraiser chocolates. I am about to add bunting that is for sale onto her facebook page. We are planning on going to the local Childrens markets in december to sell bunting, hair clips, christmas clothes etc to raise some more money. I am also in the process of organising the next online auction.
On another note, Aaliyah's Journey will *hopefully* soon be a registered charity, thus making it easier for those wanting to make tax deductable donations.
Saturday, 24 September 2011
Miss Aaliyah LOVES her little sister so much
Here is a better picture of little miss H :) she is one lucky girl to have such a spunky big sister
Isnt she a dag!!!
Pretty in pink, love this cheeky muffin :)
IJust wanted to start of by saying a massive thank you to all those that donated and participated in Aaliyahs online auction, it raised nearly$450!!!!!
I apologize for not posting very regularly, we have been very busy. Between looking after the girls, going to appointments etc my days fill up fast. We also only have one computer, as Jose is studying, if he needs it for assignments etc, he has priority. I could post/ update from my phone during the day but I like to focus on giving the girls my attention, they are only small for such a short time, I just want to soak it up and enjoy being with them!
This post, like so many of mine is going to be a bit random (and long!!)
I cant believe how many people are willing to help our little girl, we are so blessed. The online auction went so well and we already have several people wanting to donate to another auction, so we are planning on another auction, to start end of October. Those that have offered to donate, I will contact you shortly. I think October is a good time for an online auction as people are starting to think about christmas presents but their budget has not been blown yet!!!
If you are thinking about donating to our next auction, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our chocolate drive is going well, it has raised $800 so far, I am ordering another 20 boxes to be delivered Wednesday. I think we will keep going with the chocolate fundraiser until it gets too hot and then we will have a bit of a break over the summer.
We are hoping to do a few bunnings BBQs over the summer, we have heard that they are good fundraisers, averaging around $1000!!!
My mother in law, Sandra, has been doing some fantastic fundraising at her work. She works for bernafon, which manufacture and distribute hearing aids!!! Interestingly enough, Aaliyahs first hearing aid was a bernafon one! Her work has gotten behind Aaliyah's journey. They have been donating money, buying the fundraising chocolates, held bake sales and are now doing a raffle.... I am continuously amazed at the amount of people that want to help our little princess, we are truely humbled!!! Sandra dotes on Aaliyah and this is obvious to those she works with, so they are all very keen on helping in any way possible.
We also have printed flyers explaining what we are doing, we have been handing them out to those selling chocolates as well as businesses etc.
We also have family and friends contacting radio stations, television networks and magazines :)
We also have family in Australia and New Zealand, doing their own fundraising etc. Arent we blessed :)
A trivia night/auction dinner is also in the pipeline, if you or anyone you know would like to donate to that please contact my sister Jessica Waterhouse: email@example.com as she is organising it!!
She is doing exceptionally well. She recently had her six monthly auditory/verbal therapy review. She tested above her age group. At 20 months her speech is at a 2.5 - 3 year old level and her comprehension/ability to follow instruction is at a 2-2.5yr old level!!! I was blown away!! I knew that she talks well but I didnt think it was THAT well! I was also surprised at how well she followed her teachers intructions. She certainly doesnt follow my intstructions that well :)
As she is approaching 2, we are facing the usual "terrible twos" issues. She is great most of the time but she has a very very cheeky side to her. I think that she is just too nosey for her own good. She gets into EVERYTHING, but I think this is just her curious spirit. She is saying the cutest things and is the greatest big sister. She panics if she cant see her and loves to give her toys to play with. Im sure this wont last much longer, so I am just enjoying it whilst I can. Aaliyah is a very girly girl. Always has to have a fairy skirt and wings on! she struggles with her "w's" so will say: " I mant my mings " aka: "i want my wings"... she is just too dang cute.
We go to the hear and say playgroup on a tuesday morning. The Hear and Say centre is a centre for deaf children and their families. It is where she goes for her speech and langauge reviews. At playgroup there are 3 other children with Microtia. I know that at least one other is fundraising for the operation. It saddens me that our government doesnt support overseas medical treatment as well as it could. The treatment for microtia is deemed as optional and not essential, therefore the government doesnt help.
A few people have suggested to us that we just "put the operation costs on our mortgage or get a loan". Well firstly, we don't own our house, in fact we rent a very modest townhouse in a very average suburb (in an effort to save more money for Aaliyah). Before Aaliyah was born we were thinking about buying a house, but our plans have changed :) and thats all good, she is worth way more than a house ever would be to us!!! IF we get to the age that Aaliyah can have the operation and we still need a little more money, we will take out a loan if we have to, we would just prefer not to.
Another question people ask is what are WE doing to help make her operation possible. We have a direct debit into her account every fortnight, with additional contributions as we can. I am also doing all of the work towards raising funds :) It is hard work, it is a very humbling experience. I have had to swallow my pride and stick my hand up and say "please help". I HATE having to ask people for help. In an ideal world, money would be no object and we would just need to book the operation in. I met a lady last year that had a son with microtia. Within six weeks he had his operation because they had the money. Unfortunatly we are not in that situation. But I will not complain, we are more than blessed.
We are very excited to be attending the 3rd annual microtia/atresia conference next saturday/sunday. The doctors that are doing Aaliyahs surgery are coming out and speaking. Aaliyah will also have an individual consultation with them on sunday. We met them last year and they are SOOO lovely. They pay their own way over and do the consults free of charge. They also do alot of work with kids in third world countries. They pioneered this surgery! There are other doctors speaking, including a plastic surgeon from melbourne, whilst he isnt doing the exact operation that Aaliyah is having, I am interested to hear what may be coming up in the near(ish) future! It is also nice to get together with other parents from around the country that are all dealing with the same situation as we are.
About a month ago we had an appointment with a genetisist. Aaliyahs pediatrician recommended we see him to make doubly sure that she had no underlying syndrome (which she does not). He has referred us to another plastic surgeon to see if he thinks that they might be doing her surgery in Australia anytime soon. I agreed to see this other surgeon, on the condition that he doesnt suggest whe just chop her ear of like the other doctor did!
Thank you so much for following us and supporting us on our journey. A lot of days, I struggle. To keep up with contacting people. To keep up with the fundraising. To be a half decent mother. To keep my house from looking like a bomb has gone of. To stay awake, ha ha!!! I confess, I am finding it all a bit overwhelming and just plain hard at the moment. My days are long....they start around 5:30am, and end around 10:30, add a 2am feed in there and you can all guess that well Im a bit tired. Its just a stage, I know, but some days its a struggle. So if I take a bit to get back to you, please understand, Im not ungrateful, just busy and tired. I am also learning to swallow my pride and accept help.
Could you all do me a favour. If you read this blog, just leave me a little comment, I would love to know who reads this (if any one at all )... also please, ask me any questions you might have and I will do my best to answer them
Tuesday, 6 September 2011
Just checking in, its been a while.
We are so excited for the auction happening on Aaliyahs facebook site this sunday, september 11 at 7:30pm. We have some very lovely items up for auction and would love for you all to check it out and of course bid! 100% of the dollars raised goes directly to Aaliyahs operation!!!!
We are also now selling chocolates as a way to raise money also. Many people have asked what they can do to help and we have found that this is a relativly easy way that people can help, it also allows for people on all budgets to contribute to her surgery. Thank you to every single person that is taking a box. I will be doing another order in a week, so if you are interested in taking a box (in the Brisbane area) please email me firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me via Aaliyahs facebook page and we can organise delivery. Those of you that are awaiting delivery, we will be able to start dropping of the boxes from tomorrow. Along with the chocolates I have organised for pamphlets explaining Aaliyahs Journey to allow for transparancy and also for people to become aware of her cause.
Aaliyah is now 20months old and is doing very well. She has adjusted better than expected to being a big sister. In fact she is now waking earlier in the mornings and calling out to see her sister. She loves her so much. I am so grateful that Aaliyah has a sister to share her journey with. I am fortunate enough to not only have two sisters of my own but I inherited two amazing sister in laws when I married my husband. I am so glad that Aaliyah (and Hadassah) get to share that sisterly bond also!!!
Aaliyah is entering the terrible twos in a big way. But she is still an absolute bundle of fun. I am constantly amazed at how fast she picks things up and how fast her vocabulary is expanding. She is coming out with new sentances every day. Although at the moment her favourites are "I dont want it". But she also says beautiful things like "I love you mummy" "Lia's a princess"... kind of evens out the bad ;)
I will leave you with some recent pictures and introduce you to Aaliyahs new little side kick miss Hadassah Aubrey Faith
Aaliyah picking flowers in the backyard
Little miss Hadassah, the girl that made Aaliyah a big sister!!!
Wearing her contact mini hearing aid, dressed up as a fairy
Shopping :) Aaliyah LOVES it
Me and my girls, I love them both so much...
ps: true story, when Hadassah was born the first thing I asked was if she had both ears, poor midwife was a tad confused!!! ha ha xx
Sunday, 31 July 2011
Hi everybody, big apologies for being AWOL for a long time. The last few weeks have been eventful to say the least! And life is a little crazy right now.
Firstly, I take my hat of to all of you work at home mothers that have little ones and still find the time to work on your creations. Seriously I am in awe, HOW do you do it? I am struggling to find 30 mins to go on the computer. Right now, every spare second I have I am using to sleep!!!!!
So, what has been going on. On July 7, Aaliyah became a big sister to Hadassah Aubrey Faith. For those of you reading the name Hadassah and going .. WHAT THE>> Hadassah is a hebrew name meaning myrtle tree. Not overly significant, however back in biblical times, the myrtle tree was planted to show Gods faithfulness, it is also Esther from the bibles Hebrew name. I first came across the name in a Francine Rivers book around 10 years ago and fell in love :)
Just a quick recap of Hadassah birthday: After Aaliyahs traumatic delivery, I was very apprehensive about having miss H. Having had weeks of braxton hicks, when i started to feel stronger pains i wasnt overly concerned. They never got regular. I thought that the hospital was going to tell me to go home as I wasnt in established labour. She was born 7 minutes later!!! 2 pushes! Such a different experience to Aaliyah. I am still bummed I didnt get my epidural and Jose and my mum can assure you that I was VERY vocal about wanting an epidural from the second I stepped into the hospital! Recovery this time has been alot easier.
Now for my excuse as to why we have been AWOL: hadassah has reflux so she is either screaming or sleeping (a lot more screaming than sleeping at the moment). She also likes to party all night. And Aaliyah parties all day, so I am running on fumes. I know that this will pass and sleep will come once everything has settled down, but right now, if the girls are sleeping so am I! I just do not have the energy right now to be on the computer, updating and organising things, I am just to tired! I know that I need to start getting on top of fundraising etc but right now my priority is my girls and saving what precious little sanity I have left! Right now, Aaliyah is asleep and Hadassah is screaming the house down! Thank goodness its winter so the windows are closed, otherwise I think our neighbors would hate us.
Some brief points :
Hadassah passed her newborn hearing test
Aaliyah saw the paediatritian the other day, she is now on a preventer for her asthma (we spent 3 days in hospital at the end of june for it) and has cortisone ointment for her eczema. We have noticed a dramatic improvement for both since she has started treatment. He will review her again in 3 months.
Aaliyah has her hearing tested again on August 8. She is tolerating her hearing aid a little more now. Although we still have to battle to get it on, once its on she is leaving it alone for longer periods which is nice.
My cousin Adrian has offered to do a website for Aaliyah and will be up and running once I
get around to emailing him all of the info (yet another thing on my to do list, along with organising the online auction and the chocolate fundraisers.).
get around to emailing him all of the info (yet another thing on my to do list, along with organising the online auction and the chocolate fundraisers.).
thank you to every one for being patient with us. Hopefully soon we will be back to some sort of normal and I can get back into things
Thursday, 23 June 2011
I have been a very bad blogger..... very bad, its been nearly a month!!!! eek...
We have had a busy few weeks in our household. Jose had end of semester exams and assesments, I went into preterm labor and Aaliyah had many of her 6 monthly appointments.
All of Aaliyah's appointments went well. The only glitch was that she had a blockage in her eustation tube (between her nose and ear) on her good side so they were unable to do her hearing test properly. We have another appointment August 8 to be retested. Most likely it was blocked due to a recent cold. If it is still blocked at this next appointment they will do further investigations to ensure that there is nothing more sinister going on. We fully expect it to be unblocked as we have never had this issue before in her many many hearing test.
Her appointment with her ENT went well, he will continue to review her every six months until its time for her CT scan (approx 3 years old) when we will then be able to make more definitive plans re:surgery. If the bones in her ear are too misshapen she will not be eligible for the canalplasty. She will still be able to have the outer ear (Medpor) reconstruction but would not be able to have a canal made which will impact on her hearing. Please pray with us as we believe that the bones and nerves will be normal enough for her to be able to have the surgery.
Another appointment we had just a few days ago was with the developmental pediatrician. She is a specialist that looks at how well children with different disablitities (hearing, sight, autism etc) are going developmentally in comparison to "normal" children. This appointment could not have gone better. She could not stop raving on about how alert Aaliyah is, how social she is and how gorgeous she is (now we think she is gorgeous, but its always nice to hear people outside the family comment!!!). She asked if Aaliyah was saying 10-20 words (apparently that is the standard for 18 months. She is saying HUNDREDS of words. She really is a little parrot. The girl does not stop talking!!!! Takes after her mumma!!!! She was so impressed that we do not need to see her for 12 months instead of the usual 6 months. She gave us the number of her assistant to call should we wish to make an appointment sooner but I really dont think we will need to.
For my own documentation these are a few of the things that Aaliyah is doing at 18 months:
Stringing 2-3 words together, including the very funny "I sit" that comes out as "I S@#t"
Knows pretty much all her body parts, eyes, nose, mouth, head, hair, chin, cheeks, hands, ears fingers, toes, shoulders, tongue, eyebrows, belly. She can also say most of these also We are working on wrists, ankles, eyelashes, shin, thigh etc.
She can count to 5 in english and 3 in spanish (although she has no idea that it is counting). It also helps that she LOVES hi5 and Dora!!!
She has mastered the art of manipulating what she wants to watch (she will tell us "dorethy, hi5, dora). We are strict with the amount of tv she watches so usually she gets a no.. we generally allow for 20-30 mins in the morning and about the same in the evening. She likes giggle and hoot (she calls it hoot hoot), so she will sometimes watch the goodnight song before going to bed.
She is sleeping 12-13 hours overnight!!! goes to bed between 6:45-7pm and wakes between 7am and 8:30 depending on how warm she is, how dark it is and if there are any noises outside, for a kid that can only hear out of one ear that ear sure is amazing. She is an EXTREMELY light sleeper... Im really not sure how she will go once the baby is hear.
She can say every single extended family (grandparents and aunts/uncles) names, and knows exactly who is who, she also knows all the dogs names!!!
She is a show of.... big time!!!!! she will "dance" if we ask her to or sing a song for her, and will march if we sing the marching song. Her favourite song for us to sing is "the wheels on the bus" and will do all the actions. She also makes sure that EVERYONE in the room is doing the actions and will death stare anyone that doesnt join in!!!!
We finally got rid of her dummy!!!! She started chewing holes so it was getting dangerous. I wasnt strong enough just to throw them out so I just didnt buy any new ones, as each one broke I threw it away until we had none left. It took one day for her to stop asking for it and 3 nights for her not to cry when going to sleep (first night she cried for 5 mins, next night 30 seconds next night nothing). I am grateful to be rid of it before the baby comes.
In other news we found out that the hospital has falsely documented Aaliyah's birth details. From how long I was in labor to when I go my epidural to Aaliyah's condition at time of delivery are all recorded inaccurately. The ob had the nerve to tell me at my last appointment that according to their paperwork that I had a textbook labor and delivery. It really hasnt given me much faith and has left me a little apprehensive about this delivery. BUT we have a plan. I will be extremly vocal about what I want. Mum and Jose will be documenting EVERYTHING that goes on whilst I am in hospital, names of the staff, times, EVERYTHING. We will then get it put as a stat dec. so if anything happens in the future we will have proof. I also recommend anyone having a baby to do the same. It is not the first time I have heard of hospitals not recording details properly. And working in health care myself I know that if its not documented it didnt happen. Its really sad that it has come to that but as a mum I will do anything to protect my baby.
In between all of Aaliyahs appointments I have been resting. Not doing any housework, not picking up Aaliyah, no driving. I have also been babysat when Jose has had uni/work. Our families have been amazing in picking up the pieces. I have literally not been left alone since our little scare! I am comforted and so grateful to their sacrifices.
. The night I started having contractions, Jose was at work and Aaliyah was still up. I had had pain the day before but nothing like I was getting. I knew I needed help when I had a contraction I couldnt do ANYTHING. Aaliyah pooped and then fell over and banged her head but because I was having a bad contraction I couldnt do anything.. I just cried feeling like the worst parent in the world. I made 3 phone calls, one to the hospital ( that told me to come straight in, as i was only 33 weeks), one to Joses mum, and one to my mum. My sister answered at my parents and she called Jose and told him to come home, Joses mum and sister came to watch Aaliyah and Mum and Jose took me to the hospital. I look back and laugh now because it was all so quick and almost comical. They all arrived at once. And me being me, decided that before we were going anywhere I was having a shower!!! haha!!! My contractions were lasting one and a half minuts with about a 2 min break in between. Initially the hospital didnt believe i was having contractions, saying that the babys head was just probably bopping up and down on my pelvis. Made me a bit mad considering I have had a baby before and know what contractions feel like. once they hooked me up they realised that i really was contracting. They contacted the doctor to do an exam (before term it has to be a doctor not a midwife, I wasnt impressed I have a general dislike for obs as it is). They also did an ultrasound to make sure everything was in the right spot should I have the baby that night. I asked the doctor to check that I was still having a girl, and he was very confused saying that I might be having a baby preterm and I was worried whether she was a girl still. The way I saw it was if I was going to have her there was nothing I could do about it but if she turned out to be a he I could call someone to go buy some boys clothes!!! I wasnt dialiting so they sent me home, with pain killers to rest. Well the pain killers didnt kill the pain but they did make me feel like I was either extremly drunk or hungover. And rest is overrated when you have a very busy 18 month old to run around after.
This poor baby, I am soooo disorganised for her arrival. Mum has washed all of her new clothes for me, I still have to dig out Aaliyahs old clothes and see what I might use as well as set up the swing, sort out her change table, hang up her clothes etc. I have an army of volunteers coming to help me sort everything out on monday so I would like the little princess to stay put until I have sorted a few things out. I am also yet to pack my bag for hospital, although I have thrown a few things into a pile and borrowed a suitcase from my parents, that has to count for something!
I am 36 weeks today, would like to make it to 37 weeks and then she can come!!!! We joke that with all this rest that she will probably be late haha!!!! (I sincererly hope not!).
SO if you dont hear much on the blog or on Aaliyahs page, its not that i have forgotten everything, I am jsut a little distracted right now. Once everything settles down (haha) I will get back into the swing of things. I am looking forward to getting back into routine, and life back to some degree of normal!!!
Any questions just ask
Thursday, 26 May 2011
My last few posts have been quite negative. And probably not that nice to read. Tonight its different. I wanted to share the positives that this journey has bought.
I am thankful. Very very thankful. Aaliyah's condition is not life threatening. She will have a full and happy life. Something that I have been reminded of recently. She is not severely disabled is any way. She can walk, talk, run and be as cheeky as the next toddler. I am determined to never take this for granted.
Having Aaliyah has taught me so many things. To not judge others. You never know what someone else is going through until you have walked in their shoes, or at least taken the time to listen to their story. I think as mothers we are so quick to judge other parents for what they do. You know the whole damned if you do, damned if you dont senario. Having walked the path we have over the past 18 months I have had to learn to take away all preconcieved notions of people. I have also learned not to judge people with so called disablities. Not to stare, or whisper. Instead smile, not a sympathetic smile but a genuine "i hope you have a good day" smile.
I have also become more aware of how amazing my family is. Now dont get me wrong. Jose and I have always known that we have amazing families. But since having Aaliyah their support, generosity and love have just been overwhelming. We would not have been able to get through those first few months without them. We really are blessed. They love us and Aaliyah to bits, and have always supported the decisions we have made. They have also spent many hours researching her condition, listening to us (well lets face it mainly me) debrief, been shoulders for us to cry on, let me have my little girl tantrums about how unfair life is... all the while loving us through it. They are also as proud as punch of Aaliyah. Im sure many of you have been subject to listening to anyone of them rave on about how wonderful she is. How blessed is she.
But its not just our family, friends, acquaintances and perfect strangers have all rallied to support us. The fact that we have so many people behind us really blows us away and we cannot thank you enough. The amount of emails and messages of support that I have recieved since starting her page/blog is incredible. But even before then, friends and acquaintances have supported us. Our families from around the country and the world have also rallied to support us. So many people do not have that type of support.
So THANK YOU. From the bottom of my heart. We are so grateful for all the support and prayers that have come our way thus far.
Hug your kids, Tell them you love them, for you never know what tomorrow may bring.
Monday, 23 May 2011
Our little family
Tomorrow Aaliyah sees her ear doctor. Im not really worried about it. Over the past nearly year and a half we have gone to many appointments so I guess I am just used to it. He will ask the usual questions... any ear infections? how is her speech? what words is she saying? how is she going socially? what is she up to physically (walkinn, running, clapping hands etc)? how is she tolerating her hearing aid?
What bothers me more is the fact that we even HAVE to go to these appointments. Maybe its the pregnancy hormones, maybe Im just tired, but recently I have been feeling angry. Why our girl? Why does she have to be the one that suffers? Its not fair... blah blah blah.... I got over most of this stuff fairly soon after she was born, and just resolved to make the best of it... but sometimes, just sometimes, I get MAD.
Now, I know there are so so many people out there in far worst situations than us. Infact, Aaliyah's ear is relativly minor compared to many. However, at the moment, I feel like having a pity party. There are so many cute head bands that I would LOVE to put on her, she has the most adorable curls... that would look soo soo cute with a sweet little headband with a big flower or bow. Its one of the things that I looked forward to when I found out we were having a girl. Instead I get to put her hearing aid on, forever checking it to make sure that its on properly and having to answer ignorant peoples questions. Gah it makes me mad. Yes, she has a little ear, Yes it is a hearing aid. GET OVER IT!!!!!! Im also sick to death of people that have no idea about our situation judging us for what we are doing. We had a fill in admin girl at work... now dont get me wrong, she is a lovely girl.... however she made it no secret that she thought we were silly for doing surgery because in her words "kids are resiliant, she will get over it".... umm excuse me...... are you a parent? no? then be quiet......
sorry for the whinge.... I already feel better getting it out of my system. I know we are beyond blessed to have such a lovely little princess and are so blessed to be her parents. I just wish I could take of my ear and give it to her.... I would if I could.... she deserves it more than I do.
any ways I will leave you with this poem, i posted it on her page but I really find it comforting, especially at the moment:
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
Next week is a biggish week for us. Aaliyah has her 6 monthly check ups with the ENT (ear doctor) and her Audiologist. These appointments are important as they help us monitor how well she is doing against "normal" hearing children, to track her development, detect any areas that need addressing as well as monitor her overall health.They also look at her "good" ear to ensure its not built up with wax, this is important as that ear is her main source of sound. We are very blessed that Aaliyah has a fabulous ENT and a great audiologist. If you are in the Brisbane area and have a child with any ear, nose or throat issues I can HIGHLY recommend Dr. Chris Que Hee. He works both public and private. We are fortunate enough to seem him through the public system so we are not out of pocket any expense. He is very thorough and is more than happy to answer any questions we have. He has also been extremely honest about Aaliyah's condition and the challenges we should be prepared to face. I appreciate this, he doesn't talk to us like we are dumb (unlike many other health professionals we have encountered), we find him very reassuring. Aaliyah's appointment is on Tuesday at 8am. Wish us luck..... we are not morning people in our house, so getting into town, with peak hour traffic, at that time of day will be a challenge for me.
Audiology is up next, on Friday 27th May. Her audiologist tests her hearing in her good ear, as well as test the hearing in her affected ear, both aided and unaided. Her audiologist is also fantastic. She specialises in pediatrics so she knows what to expect from kids. She is also a mum so has empathy as well. She takes her time and is very good at explaining things to us.
We are so grateful that Aaliyah has an appointment next friday as we are having MAJOR issues with her hearing aid. IT IS SO FRUSTRATING!!!!!! The headbands she has to wear with this particular aid are special with snaps on it to hold the aid in place. All of the headbands provided with the aid have stretched over time and now are not tight enough when we put it on. Basically it ends up whistling and making an awful noise everytime we try and put it on her. We have tried the smaller sized band, but it is too small, I washed all of the other bands in hopes that they would shrink. They hold their size for about half a day then stretch out. She only has two head bands that she can wear with the aid. I cannot keep up with washing her headbands EVERY SINGLE DAY. We are hoping to get some more headbands on friday or they adjust her aid so that it does not need as much pressure for it to be functional. As great as Australian Hearing is they are no good at updating hearing aids etc. We had to go through all kinds of rigmarole just to get Aaliyah the aid she has now, so I really don't like our chances of getting more bands. I am hoping they have some kind of sympathy for us and sort it out though. No use having a hearing aid if she cant even wear it. And if she isnt wearing it she is missing out on so much stimulation.
On a different not, I wanted to take a minute (or ten!) to talk to other parents that have children that may be facing their own challenges. Do not always go with whatever the first doctor tells you. Do your own research. Trust your "mummy" (or "daddy") instinct. If we listened to the first doctor we encountered we would have believed we would have no options for Aaliyah, to just expect she would be behind and we would have chopped her little ear of by now. Now, I am not saying to trust Dr. Google for everything, our health professionals know their stuff , but they are human. I know, I work in the industry. I am so grateful that I chose the profession I did as this has helped us greatly in our journey. We have also discovered that it is not what you know but who you know. When we first had Aaliyah, we waited and waited and then waited some more for the promised doctor that was going to come and explain what was going on. We only saw somebody because my sister, Jess has friends that are doctors and on "just happened" to be working at the hospital that I had Aaliyah at. Within 15 mins of her phonecall to him, he was there with a whole team of consultants. Whilst they didnt have all the answers we had hoped to get, it was reassuring to see SOMEBODY none the less.
There have been many instances where knowing somebody has definitely has paid of for us.... I will go into more detail in a later post... but just remember this, YOU are the parent, YOU can help shape your childs future and YOU do not have to always go with what the first health professional tells you. Research, talk to other parents, look online. If you are a parent of a child with microtia, there are several online support groups, including a facebook group. If you are in Brisbane there is also a support group that meets once every 3 months, that has various specialist speaking to help educate and inform parents of their different options. It takes extra effort, but really, who wouldn't go to the ends of the earth and back again for their child?
Well thats my rant over with, sorry if the post was long winded and a bit all over the place, I still have baby brain from Aaliyah and Im also pregnant so probably not the best time to be writing anything of substance :)
Monday, 16 May 2011
Very sorry that this post is a little later than I had planned. Its been a very busy week in our household. It worked out that all my work shifts were bunched together so I have been busy working. Aaliyah is still getting over her asthma/bronchiolitis. Oh and my lovely sisters and mum and a few friends, threw me a surprise baby shower.. was it ever a surprise. I cant believe they kept it from me. It was such a lovely afternoon!!! And we were so so spoiled.
Which brings me to another FAQ, why are you having another baby when you should be saving money/concentrating on Aaliyah. This is another question that gets asked often but I also personally think that it is no ones business. However people are obviously curious so I will oblige.
We always planned to have our first two children close together. Ideally 18 months. When we had Aaliyah, our priorities changed and so did our plans. We tossed around ideas about when the "ideal" time would be to have another etc. We were thinking that sometime after her operation would probably be best but I was still wishing for sooner. They say you should be careful for what you wish for. We are very happy that our little surprise will be joining our little family. She (yes we are having another girl!!) is due July 18 which is also my birthday. I am so excited that Aaliyah gets to have a sibling close in age, something I got to experience growing up. I have two sisters and there is less than 3 years between the three of us. They were my best friends and my worst enemies growing up. But, i will never have a truer ally than that of my sisters. I am so pleased that Aaliyah gets to experience this to. I also think that it will be good for her to see that our lives didn't completely stop because of her condition, that we continued to have the same aspirations as a family.
It will be a big change for us all. Aaliyah is used to being the center of everybody's world. She is the ONLY grandchild on BOTH sides, so having another child to share the love and attention will certainly be a good thing. Whilst there will be an adjustment period, we are looking forward to welcoming our second little princess. Oh and for those of you wondering, the ultrasound tech looked extra carefully at her ears and her kidneys and deemed that it is highly unlikely that she has microtia. All other tests have come back perfect! Looks like we have a very healthy little baby on our hands :)
Thursday, 12 May 2011
Ok....a commonly asked question that people ask is why have I not returned to full time work if Aaliyahs surgery is going to cost so much??? More than a few people have voiced their opinion stating that if we really wanted surgery then I should be working as much as possible to help cover expenses.
Sorry if this statement offends anybody, but I personally don't understand why it is anyone elses concern my "working" status. But in fairness to those just curious and to shed some light as to the "why" I work part time not full time, I will endevour to answer to the best of my ability.
Way back when we started thinking of having children, we discussed when and how often I would return to work. I work as a nurse, so I have some flexibility. At this stage we were saving to buy a house but also looking at starting a family. We did the sums and worked out that we could manage with me returning to work one day per week. This would give us a little extra income, as well as keep my registration up to date.
Once Aaliyah was born, we had to reconsider our options. Buying a house was put on the back burner, providing the best possible care for her became our priority. We made some drastic changes, Jose returned to study (engineering) to ensure a better income for our little family in the long run. All of a sudden the material things we had aspired to, really were not that important any more.
I had taken 9 months maternity leave. During this time we met with various health care professionals, from Ear specialists, to pediatricians, to auditory-verbal therapists. They all had the same opinion. IF at all possible I should remain Aaliyah's primary carer and day care should be avoided if at all possible. Why?? Several reasons.
Aaliyah has many different appointments that she needs to attend, difficult to do so if she is in day care and I am at work. Secondly, in order to optimize speech and language development, she needs alot of one-on-one time, with someone that knows to make sure she is facing you. To be able to monitor her development. She also wears a hearing aid, but not a normal hearing aid. Aaliyah's hearing aid is held on my a headband. It is not an ordinary hearing aid. Most hearing aids are worn on or in the ear and are air conducted, hers is bone conducted, meaning it has to be in contact with her skull in order for it to be effective. Aaliyah is a typical toddler and doesnt always tolerate wearing it, it requires A LOT of persistence and patience to ensure she wears it as much as possible. She cant wear it with a hat, in the car, and often needs to be repositioned. Something that would be difficult for a childcare worker to provide. Please dont get me wrong, I am not knocking day care or daycare workers, they provide a wonderful service. However they are not always the best option for a child with additional needs.
We also need to monitor her good ear. We want her limit, if not all together avoid any infections etc. If she was to get an infection her, she would be pretty much completely deaf until the infection healed. Lots of infections over time have been proven to cause hearing deficits. We want to avoid this if at all possible. No, we do not "cotton wool" Aaliyah, but we are cautious with her, and know from other parents with children in day care that colds/viruses are part and parcel of the experience.
All of that being said, bills do not pay themselves, Aaliyah's expenses are not about to go away. So I have gone back to work 2 days per week. More than originally planned, but enough that it is do-able. We budget, we make do. Aaliyah's needs ALWAYS come first. With the shift work there is some flexibility, I have a WONDERFUL understanding boss. If I am working during the week, my mum (or Joses mum if she isnt working) watches Aaliyah, and on the weekends or after hours, Jose is able to watch her. Its hard working around all of our schedules, Joses, mine and Aaliyah's but we manage. We do not take for granted the fact that we are blessed to have family help watch Aaliyah. It is so comforting to know that if she is not with me, she is with people that understand her needs, her routine and are able to attend to her as best as possible. This is a huge relief and something we do not take for granted.
You might be reading this and think that Aaliyah has been very sheltered and not well socialised. This is far from the truth. Those of you that know Aaliyah, know just how social she is. She attends a weekly playgroup as well as swimming lessons. She also sometimes attends the hear and say playgroup, a playgroup set up for deaf or hearing impaired children. We also make sure that she is provided with a range of learning experiences. She has play dates, goes on outings (parks, museum, shops) as well as engages in creative play at home (painting, colouring, play dough, cooking, pretend play). We read to her ALL THE TIME. On average she is read 20 books per day. We believe that all of these experiences are all contributing to her speech and language development as well as developing a healthy self esteem. We also go to the library every fortnight (the girl loves her books). She LOVES spending time with both sets of grandparents as well as all of her aunties and uncles. She interacts appropriately with other children. She is an observer, she watches what is going on before deciding if and when to join in.
So that is my very loooonnngggg explanation as to why I dont work full time and may even be a little controvertial. I know that some of you may not necessarily agree, but it is our little family and we are doing what we feel is best for US. I know every mum out there does their very best for their family and that is exactly what we are doing.
On another not... not long to go until we reach 400 likes on Aaliyah's page, almost time for an online auction!!!!!!!
Monday, 9 May 2011
I know I just said that I would be doing a new post in the next few days ( and I still will), but I thought that it might be a good idea to put something forward.
Some of you may have questions regarding Aaliyah's condition, her surgery or her hearing aid. Whilst I am doing my best to slowly answer the most frequently asked questions I wanted to put it out there to everyone that I am more than happy to answer any questions that you may have to the best of my ability.
So ask away.. either by commenting on the blog or on Aaliyah's Face book page.
Also we cannot thank you all enough for taking the time to follow us on this journey. We have been bought to tears on many occasions at the thought of just how many people are behind our little lady.
Many have asked: what can I do to help?
Well, firstly, pray for our little princess, that she continues to get good results on all her tests and that she remains healthy and happy.
Secondly, once our facebook page reaches 400 fans we will be hosting an online auction. We have already had many generous offers of donations, so if you see an item that you like, please take the time to bid. Not only will you get your hands on a fabulous product (many hand made with love and hours of work) but you will be helping Aaliyah get one step closer to her operation.
Thirdly, if you have any fundraising ideas that you think might be of benefit, please let us know.
Once again, Thanks for all your support, will be back in a day or two to answer more frequently asked questions :)
Friday, 6 May 2011
Firstly, I would like to do a shout out to my mum, Happy mothers day mum, I love you so much, thank you so much for your never ending love and support, I can only hope to be half the mother to my children that you are to me xx
I was going to answer a few more FAQs but truth be told, im too tired to think. We have had a busy few days around here, with Aaliyah suffering what they originally diagnosed as bronchiolitis but ended up being Asthma. Needless to say we have had a few sleepless nights in our house!! Thankfully she is on the mend now and is almost back to her normal happy self.
I just wanted to do a quick summary of just how important wearing a hearing aid is to Aaliyah's development. A couple of months back, starting in February, Aaliyah's hearing aid was broken. It was sent in to be repaired and we were told it would be back within 10 working days (2 weeks). We did not get it back for just over 8 due to an issue with the company that makes the hearing aid having supply issues. During this time we noticed several things.
Firstly, Aaliyah's speech and language development all but stopped. She kept on saying the words she already knew, but only said maybe one or two new words the entire time she was without her aid. This was unusual for her as she was generally coming up with one-two new words EVERY DAY. It was very frustrating knowing what she COULD be doing if only she had her hearing aid. Since the day she got her hearing aid back her speech and language development have taken off again. She is noticing sounds around her easier and is not as startled by sudden noises if she has the aid on. We are so amazed at how significantly unaided unilateral hearing loss can affect a person. And we are so grateful to live in a time where it is recognised enough for her to be able to have a hearing aid (although it is still not recognised by the government as being a disability).
The other thing that we noticed when she was without her hearing aid was how often she lost her balance and fell over. The ear is not only responsible for picking up sound but it also helps with balance. If one side is not working properly this will affect balance. This is what we found with Aaliyah. The poor thing would fall over and seem to loose her balance so much easier. Once she had her aid back her balance has improved so much.
On a different note, in regards to her surgery, many people have asked if the government will assist. The answer is no. They regard her surgery as elective cosmetic surgery, mainly due to the fact that it is unilateral. This means that we are not eligible for any sort of subsidies besides Audiology reviews etc from Australian Hearing. They do not assist us financially in any way towards any of Aaliyah's medical expenses. When she was born, we applied for the carers allowance (a government allowance to assist parents caring for children with a disability, including bilateral hearing loss as well as other disorders such as ADD, it is only a small amount but every bit helps). We were declined. Due to the fact that her condition can be "managed" here in Australia they are also not contributing to any of her medical expenses overseas. Whilst we understand that her condition is not considered major, there are still many unexpected expenses that we are forced to meet. From parking at the hospital for her many appointments to paying for her speech and auditory verbal therapy/assessments. We have also paid for her to see private paediatricians at times when the public wait list was too long. We also pay an annual fee to Australian Hearing for her check ups etc. Whilst these expenses might seem small, they certainly do add up.
Enough rambling for now.. I hope these posts are actually informative and not too long and boring... let me know... feed back is most welcome...
Monday, 2 May 2011
Aaliyah reading her books whilst wearing her contact mini hearing aid
This is a very recent picture of Aaliyah, wearing her hearing aid, just on a different headband
My dad, holding Aaliyah on the day she got her first hearing aid
One of the last pictures we have of Aaliyah wearing her old bone conductor hearing aid!
Over the past year or so, we have noticed that some of the same questions keep on coming up. My aim is to slowly answer these, so I don't keep on boring you with super long posts!
One of the big questions we get asked is why we have chosen surgery and why not leave her ear as it is. One comment many people make is that they don't really notice it and that she is a girl so she can just wear her hair long.
Before we had Aaliyah, I would have been one of those people, because lets face it, it isnt a life threatening abnormality and yes, she is a girl so wearing her hair long is always an option. But thats just it, we want her to HAVE options. We want her to walk with her head held high, knowing that she has every opportunity that every other little girl has. To wear her hair in a pony tail and know that people are not going to stare or comment (and believe me, the comments have already started coming, thankfully she is too young to notice). We also want her to be able to HEAR, in BOTH ears. To be able to cross the street and hear a car coming at the same time as people of normal hearing.
It has also been suggested that adults with hearing loss of some degree whether unilateral (one sided) or bilateral (both) are less likely to get a university degree and are more likely to spend their life on minimum wage or unemployed. Would YOU want this for your child? Most parents want their child to succeed in every aspect of their life. We are no different. We want Aaliyah to walk through life knowing that she can achieve anything she sets her mind to. Yes, these things are possible if we left her special ear as it is. But it will be a lot more challenging. That is not what we want for our daughter.
Another common question is why America, surely there is something available in Australia.
We are very fortunate to live in this beautiful country. We have a fantastic health care system that avails good health care to all citizens no matter their socio economic status. We have researched our options, both in Brisbane (where we live) and throughout Australia. We have met with many healthcare professionals from all over Australia. At this stage their is NO doctor in Brisbane that performs the medpor reconstruction (the outer ear). Aaliyah has a wonderful ear doctor. We asked him why he doesn't do the surgery or why others in Brisbane don't do it. He said that the ear is a very tricky organ to work on and microtia kids are exceptionally difficult. He said that he would rather see and work on 1000 cochlear implants than do surgery on one microtia child. Microtia is rare, and it is only recently that people have started to perform reconstructive surgery. We have talked to other doctors in Brisbane and they all gave us the same plan , chop of her ear and put a prosthetic ear on. To many people this would make sense, but not to us. If we were to "chop of her ear" and put a prosthetic ear on, everytime she goes swimming she would have to remove it. Could you imagine a her at her school swimming carnival, having to ask her teacher to hold her ear whilst she races. Or when she is at a sleepover, and she takes it of to go to sleep. Whilst the other girls just worry about cleaning their teeth she has to clean her ear and the attachments on her skull. Never mind the fact that chopping her ear of would not help her hearing in anyway.
We met with a well known ear surgeon based in Melbourne. He is willing to perform recontructive surgery, however uses a method that requires up to 6 surgeries and has very mixed results. It involves taking some of the childs rib and shaping it into an ear, he does not perform the canalplasty, the other part of Aaliyahs surgery. He also will not operate on any child under 8 and he believes that a child has a right to chose whether they want surgery or not. This goes against all research that suggests that optimal hearing must be achieved by age 5 in order for optimal development. Needless to say we were not impressed.
Drs Robertson and Reinisch are the surgeons from California that will perform Aaliyahs surgery. They have have over 20 years experience performing this surgery. They are, what we believe to be, the best possible option for Aaliyah. They have performed surgery on children all over the world with a 100% success rate.
Well I think I have bored you with enough words for one post, in the following posts I will continue to answer FAQs and explain what the surgery actually involves etc. I will also explain the importance of her hearing aid.