Turns out, Caleb can't hear.
I'd been lamenting to friends that he hadn't started "conversing" with us, and didn't seem to respond when I came into daycare unless he could see me. I was told that I was overreacting, and that he was just being stubborn and ornery early, and I should just get used to being ignored. I'm his mother, after all.
But it still didn't seem right. So, when he had his 6-month (adjusted) developmental appointment with the high-risk clinic, I asked them about it. Maybe he's just not responsive to you, they tell me. They clap in front of him. He smiles. I point out that he's very responsive to things he sees, and he loves watching people. They ring a bell in his ear. He turns, but I still think it's more because he saw the bell out of the corner of his eye. So they tell me to say his name from behind him. No response. I mention that on a recent morning, he was awake in his crib, but laying on his stomach facing the wall. I walked in and sat right in front of the crib and talked to him, and he never turned his head. Maybe it's just your voice, they say. They call his name. No response. Finally, they decide there may be something to what I'm saying and they refer us to a pediatric ENT.
Fast forward a couple of weeks. We go to the ENT, and Caleb is in an extra fussy mood. We get asked about ear infections (none) and medications (lots for the lungs/wheezing), and then Dr. S. gets to looking in Caleb's ears. He says nothing, and sends us down the hall to the audiologist. We sit quietly, and she says things at various decibel levels through several speakers in the little soundproof room. Then there are beeps. Caleb has his head firmly fixated watching the audiologist the whole time. She says he is young, and probably doesn't understand what we are asking him to do. She pulls out a little wand and explains how she will test how well his eardrums are moving. We hold Caleb down and she does her thing. She's sure the measurement is wrong and tries again. And again. She writes some things down, and then shows us the graph. I don't have an actual picture, but my (bad) artist rendering is something like this:
I'm being deliberately macabre, here. He passed his newborn hearing screen, so we know his brain is wired for hearing. He just has so much fluid in his ears that he can't get any vibration in there. We're trying antibiotics first, but if that doesn't work, we're probably looking at tubes.
The only thing I worry about with tubes is whether he can still go swimming in a pool this summer. Anyone with experience who can tell me we'll still be able to dunk him in all kinds of chlorinated goodness?
When You Reach Me
2 days ago