Kellie H. knew her daughter, Gabby, was going to be born missing part of both of her arms, but she never expected she would be born profoundly deaf in both ears. After realizing Gabby would be unable to sign to communicate, Kellie and family were beyond grateful for cochlear implant technology. Read on to learn about Gabby’s journey:

Gabby, unable to sign, prior to getting cochlear implants“Knowing that your soon-to-be born daughter would be missing a part of both of her arms was just about more than we could handle…or so we thought. Our gorgeous baby daughter, Gabriella, was born in the middle of the summer just as expected. Big blue eyes, a soft round face….beautiful. We knew this time around it would be different, but we had no idea what would come next.

At one day old, the usual tests began for heart screenings, hearing screenings, etc. Not only was Gabby born missing portions of both of her arms, she started failing these standard hospital tests too. Once. Twice. After a few months passed, we had more in-depth hearing testing done and once again, no, twice, she failed. At that point, the audiologist pulled us aside and told us Gabby was profoundly deaf in both ears. ZERO hearing. We put on our brave faces and left the office, walked to the nearest bathroom and just wept for what felt like hours. Once we were able to compose ourselves, my husband and I decided that when we left that room, we were going to go forward Having Only Positive Expectations, like her middle name implies, and that is what we have been trying to do ever since.

Pursuing cochlear implants

Gabby, being unable to sign, with family before cochlear implant surgeryWe knew early on in the process we wanted to pursue cochlear implants. There are many reasons that go into this decision that I am sure most families typically think of, but for us, the biggest reason was simply communication. Gabby has seven fingers, five of which do not move very well. Her arms are short and her hands/wrists are very limited on their movement. With all of that said, imagine her only form of communication being sign language…it would not be very effective for Gabby. Praise the Lord for technology and cochlear implants!

When deciding on a company for Gabriella’s implant, we asked to meet with a representative from each company. We really wanted to touch and feel the equipment itself, see how it worked and ask as many questions that we could think of to a real person. This was SO helpful.

In the end, what helped us make our decision the most was the Cochlear representative we met with. She herself uses cochlear implants to hear, so being able to see her in action, using the wireless accessories in real time and being able to answer questions from a first person perspective made all the difference. What a blessing it was to meet and speak with her!

Splash and laugh time

Gabby, who is unable to sign, in the pool and able to hear with a cochlear implantGabby uses the Cochlear Nucleus® 6 Sound Processor currently. We love the ability to put it in the Aqua+* and take her swimming, so she can hear the splashing and laughing of her big sister nearby.

In the future, we may explore the Cochlear Kanso® Sound Processor, but only if she will be able to reach it herself, which is one of our current goals. Having limb differences is an extra layer of difficulty, but not one that will slow this little lady down!

The joy of access to sound

Gabby, who has a Cochlear Implant after being unable to sign, with familySince Gabby’s cochlear implant surgery when she was 1 year old and her activation day, life has changed so much. Our family (extended included) is becoming more and more familiar with Gabby’s cochlear implant equipment. We moved to a new house in a new county, so Gabby could have access to an oral deaf school program (which we love) and she is starting to babble!  Although she does not say many more words yet than ‘up,’ she can sure get her point across with her sassiness and pointed stare-downs. During her hearing aid trial, (which she just basically used for chew toys), we saw zero progress, but now, she is a much happier little lady with her cochlear implants. We joke about not going into her room in the morning without them in hand…or ELSE…!

Having access to sound gives us so much hope, excitement and peace of mind for our daughter’s future.

The ability to hear music and friends laughing…

The ability to communicate with less restriction…

The ability to have more paths to safety and warnings…

The ability to have an easier avenue to learning.

All of these things are possible because she now has the access to sound. We are beyond thankful to Cochlear for making this possible for our daughter…words cannot even begin to express.”

Is your child unable to sign to communicate? Help your child take the next step toward a lifetime of hearing and communication at IWantYouToHear.com.  

*The Nucleus Aqua+ accessory is IP68 rated and is approved for use with rechargeable batteries and is not approved for use with the acoustic component. The Nucleus 6 Sound Processor is water-resistant without the Nucleus Aqua+ accessory to level of IP57 of the International Standard IEC60529 when used with rechargeable batteries.
Cara Lippitt
Cara Lippitt is the Senior Manager, Social Media Strategy at Cochlear Americas. Cara is inspired by the stories of the recipients that she is able to tell and the incredible journeys they have taken. Cara was born and raised in Colorado and adores the mountains, snow and the world of musical theatre.