As I impatiently sit in the hospital, anxiety pumps viscously throughout the waiting room. A waiting room meant to hold a handful of people anticipating the newest addition to their family begins to bust at the seams with the arrival of my larger than life relatives. One can only imagine what a waiting room filled with twenty three family members awaiting the same bundle of joy could feel like. As the eldest of the soon to be nine grandchildren of my clan, my enthusiasm captivates my every move. Soon I see my uncle bust past the delivery room doors exclaiming through gushing tears of joy, “Amelia Rose!” It is a girl! I cannot wait to introduce my youngest cousin to our exceptional family, though I soon find out that I introduce her in a way I never thought I would have to.
Months pass and my favorite little cousin shines brighter than the sun each time I see her. I go to her house once a week to read to her and sing with her as she smiles at my goofy faces and meaningless babble. As I cradle her up for her nap I overhear my aunt tearing up in the next room on the phone. “Shouldn’t she be at least reacting? I drop a basket of clothes as hard as I can and she still does not react. She does not flinch or wake up. She is three months old and I have not even heard her laugh,” she alerts the doctor over the phone. My aunt frequently visits the doctor with Amelia, but this alarming sensation never occurred to me until now. I never noticed before, but I realize my aunt’s emotional distress. I go home that day with millions of questions overflowing my mind and within weeks all of my questions frightfully diminish. My mother receives a call from my aunt and tears rush down her face like waterfalls. I wait for my mother to hang up and immediately run to her embrace to find out the news. A few months ago, waiting for my new cousin in the stuffy hospital, I never once thought I would ever have to hear what my mother told me next: Amelia is completely deaf. My heart fell to my stomach heavy with despair. All of the times everyone sang to her, read to her, talked to her, and said I love you were blocked by her impairment. My mother and I scramble to comfort my grief-stricken aunt. Once we arrive, my mother talks with my aunt while I distract Amelia in the next room. I start to read to her and sing but then I remember- what’s the point? I fight the urge to let my pool of tears form once again, rejoin my mother and aunt, and leave to return home. Over the next few months my family sticks to my aunt and uncle like glue to discover the next steps to repair such a heartache. After a series of hearing tests and treating my youngest cousin like a lab rat, her complete hearing loss is confirmed. Although it all seems like such a kick in the gut and misfortune, this roller coaster ride is on its way up again. Once we find out Amelia is an exceptional candidate for Cochlear Implants, my unbreakable family comes together to support Amelia in such a life altering surgery at such a young age.
The next time I enter the hospital, I never thought I would have to return for Amelia so soon, but here I am again accompanied with the same crew of people excessively congesting the waiting area. The exhausting and anticipated day begins as Amelia departs for her life changing surgery. Without knowing how successful the surgery may end, saying goodbye to Amelia turns me to a bittersweet gloom. I know this moment would be the last time I speak to her without her hearing me. Countless vending machine snacks, repetitive family stories, and warm grandma embraces pass when the doctor informs us Amelia has successfully made it out of the drastic surgery with little complications. The overcast of anxiety suddenly uplifts with deep sighs of relief. In that instance I know everything is going to be okay. Now that my youngest cousin has cochlear implants nothing would be the same or normal, but we all know everything is going to be okay.
Over the next few months Amelia is reacting in a whole new perspective. The first time I speak to her with her implants on, my tears of frustration transform to glittering drops of happiness as her face enlightens with a mile long smile. Her implants serve as a blessing in her life today as she excels beyond any child her own age. It amazes me how such a complicated experience can alter my life in such a positive way. From this perspective, I have developed my future interest as a speech therapist after learning about what Amelia will endure in upcoming speech classes. Throughout all of my family's difficult setbacks with Amelia’s impairment, it joins and strengthens us for the better as we anticipate the multiple opportunities she can now encounter as she completely reacts to her surroundings. This experience enlightens my perspective on everyday issues as I continue to develop as Amelia does.