Aaliyah celebrating her second birthday a our playgroup
After Aaliyah was born, we had a lot of support services offered to us. One was a hearing loss support officer/social worker. Her name was Isabel and she was wonderful. She told us about the Hear and Say Centre. She mentioned that they had a play group so when Aaliyah was around 6 weeks old, we went to have a look.
I don't know what it was but I looked around playgroup and felt " I dont belong here". Denial, it was. I still held hopes that Aaliyah would have some hearing in that ear and that it was all a really bad dream. Even though the play group was well run, in a centre that could double as a proper kindergarten, we didnt go back.
A year goes past in a daze of little sleep and a lot of doctors appointments. I realized I needed to find more structured activities for Aaliyah.
So I sought out a playgroup. What better way to meet other mothers as well as give Aaliyah the socialisation that she needs.
So, I called up Playgroup Australia, gave them my preferred day and the list of locations and before I knew it, we were at our first playgroup.
I cant say it was a horrible experience. But it certaintly wasnt the best. All the mums were at least 5-10 years older than me, making me feel like a child bringing a child. They were all full time stay at home mums, with cleaners, and tennis club on thursdays. I was a 25 year old working mum, no paid help and the only thing we ever had on Thursdays were doctors appointments. Dont get me wrong, they were nice enough, it just wasnt for us.
And then I remember The Hear and Say Center. We went one Tuesday, and then the next and then the next. We belonged. This was our club. Our place.
Our playgroup at The Hear and Say Center is AMAZING. I wish I could put into words just how much this little group means to me but I cant. So I will tell you a little bit about it.
The playgroup is staffed by 2 fully trained Auditory/Verbal therapist that work for the center. On top of that there a several volunteers that help out week in week out. The room is set up like a pre-school. There is a home corner, Blocks, Craft stations, Playdough, Reading corner and even itty bitty toilets. And there is an outdoor area set up with Painting, a sandpit, trikes and other outdoor toys.
Free play, followed by morning tea (fruit), the a story read using the help of a FM system (amplifies the sound for the hearing impaired), then music time. Aaliyah loves it, its her favourite day of the week.
But that is not why I love it, REALLY love it. I love it because of who I have met. The people. We all share one thing in common. We all have a hearing impaired child. Their is a comraderie about us. From Cochlear Implants, to hearing aids to microtia, we all share one thing in common. We come from all walks of life, some work, some stay home, some younger, some older, some with one child, some with 4. But we are all linked. We understand.
Whilst I would have never chosen this journey, it was chosen for us. And I am glad.
The Club. And I am a proud member.
PS: this month is the Hear and Says "Butterfly Appeal" month. Please head on over to their website for more details on how to help this wonderful organisation
PPS: Aaliyah is the poster child for this years microtia/atresia conference!!!!!