An Interview with Meaghan, the parent of a child with cochlear implants

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If you’ve looked around the Mighty Voice website, you may have seen Meaghan and her family before. She was a dear friend long before their family’s journey with deafness, and I am so grateful and excited she’s willing to share a few more details about their story including their late diagnosis and why choosing cochlear implants is not an easy way out.

Can you tell us a little bit about you and your family?

 I’m Meaghan Neuberger, I’m married to Kyle and we have 2 children, AJ and Livia. Livia is profoundly deaf.

I know the road to getting a diagnosis was not easy or typical for your family.  Can you tell readers what the diagnosis process looked like for you? 

Livia failed her hearing test at birth in 1 ear. We were told in the hospital not to worry, it’s just fluid, but we were referred to an audiologist where she eventually passed. I put that away in my “thank goodness we don’t need to worry about that anymore” file and went on with life. We moved into a bigger home when Livia was 14 months old. I noticed that I would pound the floor when I needed to get her attention. The hardest thing, when the dust settled, was the tremendous amount of guilt I felt, not knowing my child was deaf for 14 months. If I could change anything about my experience, I would have gone back and had Livia tested at 3, 6 and 9 months. Our road would have been smoother had she been diagnosed earlier.

Is there anything about the journey with hearing loss that you weren’t expecting or that surprised you?

I’m surprised and grateful at the amazing relationships I’ve made with other parents of deaf kids. I trust these people implicitly, and we connected faster than any other friendships I’ve had. They are some of my dearest friends. I’ve also learned there are amazing therapists and teachers who absolutely adore children and have their very best interests at heart. I’ve had to become an advocate and never take no for an answer, which does not come naturally to me. 

Sometimes people say that choosing cochlear implants for a child is an “easy way out.”  How would you respond to that?

There is nothing easy about cochlear implants. We’ve made this choice because we want our child to have all of the options available to her. It’s tremendously difficult, especially because she was implanted so late. We have so much catching up to do. Other families don’t have to worry about when to run the dishwasher or the clothes dryer to provide an optimal hearing environment for their child. We spend a tremendous amount of time organizing, scheduling and shuttling to and from therapy. Not to mention that there really aren’t many therapists who have had any experience with cochlear implants in our area. 

What would you want to tell families who have just received a diagnosis of hearing loss?

That you will grieve what you thought your child’s life would look like. And eventually you will realize that this was meant to be.  🙂