So on Twitter, I try every month to participate in #HearingLossHour. Like it implies, it’s an hour-long Twitter chat with some question prompts—mostly based in the UK but I’m up early with the baby anyways so I like to think I provide the American perspective.

Anyways, September’s topic was about single-sided hearing loss, and that was a broad term, to encompass the fact that some people only have one “good ear.” For me, I can’t hear anything in my right (well, maybe I once faintly heard a fighter jet flying over) and wear a BTE aid in my “good ear.”

Amazingly, during the course of the chat, I learned something new that a LOT of other people know about, which goes to show that even though I do my best to stay on top of technology, there’s usually gaps in your niche knowledge, which is why things like Twitter conversations are so great. I learned that CROS (which stands for Contralateral Routing Of Signals) is like a hearing aid supplement for your “bad side,” carrying the audio picked up in a BTE receiver and throwing it into your main workhorse aid that you wear. Here’s the image from Phonak’s brochure to show what I mean:

What does that mean for me? It means I could wear it and have a MUCH easier time when I’m the driver in a car, because the passenger is on my bad ear. It’s hard to glance over to try and hear/lipread for a second, and maintain safe focus on the road, especially on the Beltway in DC… It means I wouldn’t have to try and arrange myself so specifically at every table in a group setting.

Phonak (who sponsors the monthly chat) has a CROS aid option that you can look into here. Starkey also has the Muse CROS, which you can look into here.

So I JUST got a new hearing aid fully covered by insurance in February, so it’ll be a few years before I can take advantage again and try to get a CROS system, because it seems like Oticon doesn’t manufacture CROS aids. Why did my audiologist not suggest it? I have no idea and fully intend to ask next time I go in. I do think it’d be weird to wear an aid of sorts on my right side again, as I haven’t done that since early childhood.

Do you use a CROS and love it?

At the time of this post, I’m not a mama just yet, unless you count my sweet dog. But I’ve got a little boy on the way! If you’ve taken a look around, you might have learned that I’m nearly totally deaf in one ear and wear a hearing aid in the other. I grew up speaking, though, and for the most part, didn’t think about my hearing loss that much until I got pregnant.

Baby’s due in a few short months, and there are a few things I’ve had to think about.

Baby Monitor

I needed to find a monitor that would work for me. My sister-in-law started on it early for me and did a great job searching! Once I realized there just wasn’t a lot of good up-to-date information out there, I made this website initially for my post on baby monitors for the deaf and hard of hearing. You can click here to see what I went with–I wanted regular video/audio functionality AND vibration suitable enough to wake me at night when I don’t wear my hearing aid. My husband hears, so I don’t want to put him in the position of always hearing the baby first and having to get me up, so this was important to me! It’s disappointing that there’s such a lack of good equipment for this purpose, especially in the U.S.–my baby monitor is actually British.

The Baby’s Hearing
My recent audiogram.
My recent audiogram.

When I was born in 1986, my hearing wasn’t tested, so my hearing loss wasn’t diagnosed until about 15 months or so. There’s no history of hearing loss like mine in my family (and my younger brother hears just fine), and no one ever definitively figured out why it happened to me before/at birth. A few audiologists over the years have commented that my audiogram has the “cookie bite” shape typical of hereditary loss, but my most recent test a few months ago showed that the “cookie bite” has actually flattened out quite a bit since I was a child. My current audiologist said that she has no reason to believe my baby will have hearing loss just because I do.

I will be anxious for that first hearing test, and I expect the pediatrician will do a few extra follow-ups over the first year to confirm one way or the other. Regardless, I’m a big fan of using basic sign language with babies. My mom still remembers how I used to sign for “more cookies, please” (how many cookies was she feeding me??) and my nephew used it well (and still does) before he could verbalize what he wanted. I lost the sign language I used as a child, so I’ll need to brush up!

Hospital/Doctor Accommodations

My OBGYN knows I’m hearing impaired, and was appreciative of me telling her that I have a hard time with surgical masks, because I tend to lip-read (makes the dentist a challenge sometimes). I haven’t completed my hospital pre-registration just yet, but I took a peek at the form, and was happy to see multiple questions focused on deaf/hard of hearing accommodations. I can request closed captioning and a flashing telephone, and for those that sign, there are questions about interpreter needs. I’m so glad hearing loss isn’t an afterthought at my hospital, and I plan to talk with the doctors and nurses about it once I get there to deliver.

After Baby Arrives

This one will be trial and error and the subject of some future posts, I’m sure! The baby monitor will alleviate some of my concerns with sleeping, but I know most new moms have a hard time even indulging in sleep in those first weeks. I have to have my hearing aid out when I shower and before my hair is dry, and I’m not exactly sure what the best solution for that is, when I’m home alone with the baby.

If you’re a parent that is deaf/hard of hearing, let me know if there were any unique considerations you had to make!