As I stand in my daughter’s classroom in one of the most prestigious schools in the country, I am surrounded by parents who have lots of questions to ask to the future teachers of their young kids. I am suddenly overwhelmed by a lot of emotions. Memories flood my mind and reflections flash before my eyes.

For four years my wife and I had only one dream, to get our daughter in a mainstream school.

Born with a moderate to severe hearing loss, our little angel had come in our lives as a blessing. We were broken to the core when we realized that she had hearing loss. We were emotionally lost and our belief in God waning. We suddenly realized that our daughter might not have a normal childhood. Many discussions with doctors, family members and friends brought up options like special schools and homeschooling. Being from a country like India, we were staring at very limited options of making sure our child explores her true potential.

That’s when we both decided that we would make sure that our daughter goes to the best school of the country. With that pledge, our four-year journey had just started.

The first stop was the doctor. Lot of research went into finalizing the best doctor for our daughter. We went to many places, even different countries to get our research in order. The first plan was lots of testing. So that needed a team of professionals that consisted of audiologists, teachers, and speech language pathologists. We started looking for the team that we needed. I think it is something similar to Nick Fury assembling the Avengers team. I needed my super-heroes, Thor, Iron Man, and the Hulk!

Sometimes we tend to miss out on researching the people who in fact matter the most to our kid’s development of listening and spoken language. In my journey so far, the people who have really changed the way I think are the members of the rehabilitative team – teacher of children with hearing loss, speech language pathologists and audiologist. The search for our team took us to many parts of the country and beyond. We learnt something from everyone we met and everyone contributed to our journey. Finally, we could narrow down to the team we needed. The medical team here in Delhi and the rehabilitation team at the very beginning of our journey from the Weingarten Children’s Center in California. I cannot thank these guys enough for what they gave us. Our daughter’s listening and spoken language journey continued to progress thanks to the continued support of this team. Particularly Ahladhini Dugar, who was then a teacher for children with hearing loss at the Weingarten Children’s Center and now the co-founder of Listening Together, who taught us not to accept anything less than excellence. The Delhi team helped us set up the amplification and our little angel was given hearing aids. The team at Listening Together provided coaching and mentored us and taught us how to talk to our kid, how to teach her, how to make sure she understands.

It took one day at a time, one playtime at a time, but gradually over next few months we could see some changes.

Then the time came that our little angel needed to go to a play school. So, once again we researched and met lots of teachers. We decided on one school that would help us work with our daughter. So that added another member to the team, and the next step began.

Initially when she went to school, she was not that comfortable possibly because it was noisy and she was apprehensive. But that also gave us a clue that maybe her amplification has to .be checked.  So, we went back to our Delhi centre and having discovered that her hearing loss had progressed we started the nerve wracking process for cochlear implantation.

Cochlear implant is a hard decision to make. To choose for your own kid to go under the knife isn’t easy. You constantly doubt your decisions, wonder about outcomes, and are scared about complications. To add to all this there were decisions regarding the type of implant you want to choose, the electrodes, the accessories and stuff. One hardly has enough knowledge of these things and to then have to decide what our little angel might need 5 years down the line was tough. This cochlear implant is going to be with her for her life and it will be part of her living. So, this decision gave us many sleepless nights. We were scared.

Finally, we made the call and went for the surgery. On the planned day we tried to be brave in front of our angel but inside both of us were scared to the core. The surgery went smoothly and we could go home the next day.The day of activation came and we couldn’t stop being emotional about it, we knew that it’s just activation and it’s not just that she will start hearing the first day, but for us it was the start.So that was it, our final push into realizing the dream we had started. Our little one was activated and we were stronger than ever before to start her on her hearing journey.

Hours and hours of countless sessions, home therapies, online therapies, score of books and games dotted our home. So, days became months, months turned into years and we kept on working, testing and working. Not a day went by when we didn’t read to our little angel. Every aspect we tried to look into and make sure our daughter gets it. Our Listening Together team became our beacon of hope and whenever we felt tired or weak, we would just turn to them for inspiration. There were days when the going was very tough and we almost gave up. But something kept us going.

Our little angel, has always been a strong person. She went through all this and never for a single day did she ever give up. Day by day she became the strong, confident girl that we wanted her to be. One important aspect of the team is family. We were lucky to have a strong family backup. Our parents made sure that our daughter was taken care of. They were part of the therapy and part of the upbringing. The whole family rallied together for our daughter and made sure that she is given the best opportunity to develop as possible.

By no means, this is the end of story. It’s just the first milestone we strived for since the beginning of the journey. But it is ok to stop for a moment and celebrate what we as a team have achieved. More importantly, to celebrate what our little angel has achieved. Doing that gives us a sense of how far we have come and how far we need to go.We are still working and we will keep on working till she is an independent, confident person. We certainly aren’t finished yet. The journey continues further.

Statistics tell me, from a 2011 study, the acceptance rate of Harvard Business School was 7.1 % and whereas The Shri Ram School’s acceptance rate was 4.7%. But this day as I stand in the classroom of The Shri Ram School, I just take a moment to look back. It is our daughter’s confidence, the team members (family, doctors, audiologists, therapists, speech language pathologists, teachers, implant company representatives) resilience and dedication, and God’s will, that we could reach this stage. Our first step has been accomplished.

As Robert Frost famously said. “Miles to go before I sleep………”

 

– Written by Zubin Dev Sharma

 

 

 

 

The First Milestone…
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17 thoughts on “The First Milestone…

  • May 7, 2018 at 12:18 PM
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    Beautifully expressed the journey of four years filled with challenges and struggles. Parenting itself is a tough task but parenting for some special child of God is the most challenging task especially when we are not much aware how to handle and what to do. You have undergone so many steps to deal with it in the country and abroad and all turned to our benefits it shows the grace of God is alongwith us as a guide through you people. Aanya is the loveliest child and our sweetest daughter with a wonderful intelligence a little more than of her age giving a good competence in all ways. Your and specially Neelu ‘s nurturing is reflected in her grooming. Hats off to you guys. With the strength of your LOVE you have turned everything possible. Our Prayers and sincere Best wishes are always with you….its just the begininng bro..Aanya will Rock at every step in life. We love you all and we are proud of you.
    With loads of Love and Blessings
    Manav

    Reply
    • May 12, 2018 at 5:16 AM
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      Thank you manav…..it’s the family that has kept us together and sane..these words mean a lot…

      Reply
  • May 7, 2018 at 12:21 PM
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    So nicely written and expressed…kudos to both of you and loads n loads of live and blessings to our littke doll… She is a blessed baby… God always bless her

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  • May 7, 2018 at 12:41 PM
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    That’s a readers digest story ..only more to close our heart since we r connected to u all Zubin
    Your name always seemed special to me n now ur committed steps for ur angel r more special.Very very brave are u both.God bless u all in future endeavours.

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    • May 12, 2018 at 5:15 AM
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      Thank you….these words motivate us to keep working forward….

      Reply
  • May 7, 2018 at 9:31 PM
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    You both have done a marvelous job with good result. Yr journey till date is beautifullly expressed. Wish you all the best✋️✋️✋️Of everything in life ahead.

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    • May 12, 2018 at 5:14 AM
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      Thank you aunty….it’s means a lot…

      Reply
  • May 7, 2018 at 11:09 PM
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    Great Job done by both of you…..keep it up.
    She is really lucky to have parents like you.
    God bless you all.

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    • May 12, 2018 at 5:14 AM
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      Thank you very much

      Reply
  • May 8, 2018 at 11:08 PM
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    You guys are doing a great job. Going all this way is not easy and hats off to the little princess Aanya who is supporting and cooperating in every step you guys take. The journey so far is expressed beautifully. My good wishes and prayers are with you in this journey.
    Aanya will be independent n confident as u want as these true efforts will show u colors soon. All the best dear. God bless u all.

    Reply
    • May 12, 2018 at 5:14 AM
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      Thank you…it means a lot

      Reply
  • May 9, 2018 at 12:43 PM
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    Most of your journey so far is what we (me and my wife) have been going through in last 1.5 years. Great Inspiration to parents like us. One word strikes me very hard is “Excellence”. It’s reminds me that we have to work even harder to attain excellence.

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    • May 12, 2018 at 5:12 AM
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      It’s always the excellence that inspires us….and I am sure you guys will do great….thanks and keep working….

      Reply
  • May 10, 2018 at 12:24 PM
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    Hi Zubin/Dilpreet, its amazing that Little Aanya is already in a mainstream classroom. It seems like yesterday when you were struggling with the decision of getting a CI or not. Time just flies. I am so happy to see how far Aanya has come. She seems like a colorful butterfly ready to take on the world. You guys have done great as parents making the right decisions for your angel and giving her access to the resources needed for her to be successful. Now there’s no stopping her. So proud of you as parents and of Aanya !
    Wishing her lots of love and success in the years to come.

    Reply
    • May 12, 2018 at 5:11 AM
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      Thank you for your kind words

      Regards

      Reply

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