Our Daughter’s Unique, Special and Adorable Ear

A month ago I was in the post office with Grace. There were two sweet little boys and their dad; and as all children are, they were very interested in Grace. After asking a million questions about her, the older of the two turned to his dad and said, “look at her little ear.” The dad, completely mortified, tried to shovel his sons comment under the rug and hoped I didn’t hear. I tookIMG_9604 the opportunity to show off my daughter’s incredibly unique, special and adorable little ear to the first person who ever commented on it.

Grace was born with Microtia and mostly likely Atresia. Here’s a formal definition taken from The Ear Community:

Microtia is a congenital deformity affecting the outer ear (pinna) where the ear does not fully develop during the first trimester of pregnancy. A Microtia ear is often smaller in size, can have a peanut shaped appearance, only have a small nub or lobe present, or be completely absent at birth.

Atresia (also known as aural atresia) is the absence or closure of the external auditory ear canal.

We had no idea of this until Grace was born, and we’ve been learning more and more about what this will mean for our daughter and our family. Often times, Microtia is accompanied by other things – including kidney problems or nerve problems in the face. She, thankfully, seemly has no other “issues” accompanied with her little ear.

Grace recently had an extensive hearing test called an ABR. This ABR test determined that she has excellent hearing in her normal ear and a moderate hearing loss on her little ear. While she has no ear canal that we know of, she can still have a hearing aid  on a headband that will vibrate on the bone behind her ear. Don’t ask me how it works, because I haven’t gotten that far in my research. Grace will get one of these in a month.

IMG_9857The reason I write about this is most people notice her ear, but don’t ask. I wouldn’t ask either, to be fair. So for those of you who’ve met Grace but are afraid to ask – it’s Microtia.

A sweet friend asked me how I felt about it… if I was upset that she had this. And the honest answer is yes. Yes, I’m upset that my child isn’t “perfect” (as if there’s such a thing). I’m upset that she has to grow up with a small ear and answer to stupid people who will make fun of her. I’m upset that she could potentially be behind her peers in speech. I’m upset that she needs a hearing aid. And I’m selfishly upset that I have to pay for all the doctors and equipment that will help Grace live a “normal” life.

Why couldn’t this happen to a family with excellent insurance? A family who didn’t have to pay a sick amount out-of-pocket for these doctors and hearing aids? [On a small side note…I’d love to smack those people who complain about paying a co-pay. Or who complain about paying whopping $1000 to have their child delivered at the hospital. Boohoo. I digress…]

Grace could have something much, much worse then a small ear. She’s beautiful and healthy with a blooming personality. She doesn’t have a life-threatening illness, nor a sickness where she will need to pump medicine into her body daily. She will live a normal, comfortable, blessed life (well, at least that’s the hope). So while it’s normal to feel disappointed about her small ear and feel frustrated that all my friends have babies with normal and perfect ears… I love my daughter’s unique, special and adorable ear. And Chris and I hope we can teach her to love it, too.

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The First Four Weeks of Motherhood – Is This Real Life?

Damn. This is hard. Everyone tells expecting mothers (often in a taunting or demeaning manner) that motherhood is the hardest thing they’ll ever do. And sure, I understood it would be hard. But, damn… this is hard.

I consider the first four weeks of motherhood successful because Grace is still alive. And that’s the ultimate goal right? To keep this totally dependent new life alive. Here’s how I am measuring the first four weeks:

  • 4 emotional breakdowns
  • Over 400 tucks
  • Over 100 pads/panty liners
  • 10 depends
  • 16 pounds of epsom salt
  • Hundreds of diapers (who can count?)
  • 7 packages of wipes
  • Too few hours of sleep
  • Close to 300 times of whipping out the breastarants for feedings

The final round of family left this past Wednesday, and if it wasn’t for them I don’t think I would have eaten, slept or showered over the last four weeks. Let me tell you what mamahood is like…

Time is no longer a reality. I have zero concept of day, night, Monday or Friday. It doesn’t matter. The only reason to keep track is I have an occasional doctors appointment.

Grace doesn’t like to be put down so I’m still trying to master a one-handed life style. And for those of you reading this that roll IMG_9626your eyes and think I’m spoiling my four-week-old rotten because I’m not letting her “cry it out”… let me drop some knowledge on you… It’s impossible to spoil a four-week-old. Talk to any decent pediatrician and they’ll back me up.  Anyway, back to my one-handed lifestyle – I can’t put her down while I heat up dinner (because making dinner is no longer a reality), or eat dinner. So her clothes are covered in food that I drip all over her. And showering? Only on days when Chris goes into work at 2pm do I shower. And makeup? HA!

I still have yet to recover 100%, so I spend most of my days sitting. Primarily on the couch, but occasionally outside. I’m fairly tired of sitting and can’t wait to walk and run again. Just when I think I could maybe walk about the block, I bounce Grace  around the house to pull her out of a freakout moment and I’m sore again. Ugh.

My house looks like a bomb went off. Seriously. My family cleaned multiple times when they were here and it was wonderful. But now that they’re gone… it’s a disaster. You can’t clean with one hand very well. Also, I said I would never let my house be overtaken with kid crap. Well, I now have receiving blankets strewn across the living room, a play mat, a napper and a swing. I bite my tongue.

IMG_9748Grace hates taking baths. This makes me very sad because I thought this would be one of my favorite things as a mom. But instead, her screaming is mind-numbing, she moves around so much I fear she will drown and she craps in her towel EVERY TIME we take her out.

A few other highlights from the first four weeks – I had an emotional breakdown to a total stranger who came to drop off dinner for our family. I went to bed in the clothes I wore during the day on Wednesday because I was afraid to get out of bed and put Grace down to put my PJ’s on, for fear that I would awaken the beast. No one has seen Grace in my favorite outfit yet because every time she’s in it she craps out of her diaper and up her back before we can leave the house.

So I’m making it seem like I hate motherhood… but this is not the case. I love Grace. And I love being her mom. I have spent most of my days since Grace sitting on the couch, feeding her and staring at her. You would think this would cause time to stand still, but when the sun goes down each day I can’t believe another day has passed. Each day passes and she’s one day older, it’s one day closer to when I have to go back to work and one day closer to when she won’t want me to hold her all the time anymore. And as easy as it is to be frustrated that my hygiene has gone down the tubes, that I have no time to bake or cook, that my house is a mess and that I’m so sleep deprived that I can’t see straight… I am cherishing these moments when my daughter needs me and wants me. Because one day neither will be the case and I’ll look back on this time fondly.