Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pre-Christmas Update

We were highly skeptical of Santa Claus earlier this month, but very few tears.

It's a little hard for me to believe, but we are up to 3 months that Maddie's been in hearing aids and she's still doing great in them, so thank you Lord for that.

Over the past month, we've really noticed a pretty substantial uptick in her trying to say stuff and spit out words and things that overflow our hearts with more joy than you can ever possibly imagine. She's also picking up on a lot of other little things here and there too, like knowing where her hair is (that curly, curly hair), and wiggling her toes when we ask her to find them.

We've also been trying to see if she's interested at all in her baby sister growing inside Mel's tummy. (Short answer: No. But hey, it's still early.)

(Sidenote: Mel is due in just under 3 months. OMG.)

Maddie also loves being sung to. Would you care to take a guess as to what her favorite thing to have sung to her is?

Yep, you guessed it.

Bachman-Turner Overdrive no just kidding of course it's anything from Frozen.

We have also had our first few bouts of technical difficulties that fired up here over the last month or so that caused her right hearing aid to stop working properly first, followed by her left one. Then one day a few weeks ago, Maddie decided it would be fun to chew on one of them and tore the plastic tube which connects the mold of her inner ear to the device itself in half. That made for a fun weekend around here.

Thankfully, it wasn't as big a deal as we thought it would be to get repaired, and we were back in business after about a week or so. But it has caused us to become more attuned, I think, to the endless amount of trouble that a 1 year old with wandering fingers and a mouth full of tiny toddler teeth is capable of. In addition to swallowing random objects, or putting pennies or small pebbles up one nostril, we've also got to watch out for gnawing on a hearing aid.


So today marks a landmark day of sorts for our little girl, as it is her first hearing test since she's gotten her hearing aids. It's a little different bit of circumstances for all of us this time whereas before we were worried and a little on edge about whether she'll pass or fail her test. Now, we're not so much worried about passing or failing, rather I think we're just anxious to see if she'll behave and remain still and quiet enough for her audiologist, Dr. Wheeler, to get the proper results.

I'll post an update later this week on how things go today. Prayers for all of us until then.

UPDATE: Maddie was not so much a fan of the hearing test, as usual, and needed a little coaxing in the form of snacks (she is her father's daughter) in order to perform the testing. But she cooperated long enough for Dr. Wheeler to get the results we were looking for, and we're getting the results we need from her hearing aids so far. Barring any changes or hearing aid chewing incidents, she'll go back in another 6 months for another round of hearing testing to see where she's at then.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hearing Aids / 6 Weeks In

So we're at about two months in with hearing aids. Maybe you're wondering how things are going.

Well, every morning, with Mel at the helm because I'm usually at work by this point unless it's the weekend, Maddie's up and crowing like a rooster on the old barnyard fence right about 7:30 in the morning.

(Note: This is usually after sleeping 11-12 hours straight. Yes, we're spoiled. Yes, we're going to miss that when baby number two comes around.)

Since we take Maddie's hearing aids out of her ears and the batteries out of them before naptime and before bed at night, the first task of the day before anything else is usually putting the batteries back into the hearing aids so they "turn on." (When the batteries are out, the hearing aids are obviously off. There's no on/off switch on these things.)

Maddie's usually a pretty good trooper about having her hearing aids put into her ears, as we expected she would be. She put up little bit of a fight at first, probably mostly due to a "OMG WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MY EARS LEAVE ME ALONE YOU HORRIBLE PERSON" reaction more than any kind of physical pain. But Maddie was such a good little sport while she had to wear a helmet to fight the dreaded brachycephaly that we really thought she would fine with these too, and thankfully so far she has been.

The hearing aids aren't really as intimidating as you would think. We have a little bag that goes with us on trips to keep the hearing aids themselves and all the accessories safe. We've got a little compact case to keep them and the batteries safe when they're not being used, and a little tool to open them up and take the batteries out. Also a few different color straps for the hearing aids to clip to the back of Maddie's shirt if they fall out (gotta stay fashionable), a battery tester (most of the batteries last between 3-5 days, so we're told), and a little apparatus to clean out any copious amounts of ear wax that may collect on them. (Gross.)

We really like Maddie's audiologist, Dr. Wheeler. Not that we haven't liked or appreciated the information provided to us by any of the other doctors we've spoken to about Maddie's hearing, but she's a very kind person and going to see her at her office has felt very reassuring and not overwhelming at all for us. We're very thankful for her and the rest of her staff at "Heard It Through The Grapevine."Clever, huh? Because it's in Grapevine? And it's for hearing assistance. So see, the name, that's like the song,, yeah. Moving on.

As for changes in Maddie's speech/communication skills/mannerisms/etc, we've seen some subtle but definitely noticeable improvements. Starting with about a week and a half after she got them in, Maddie has learned how to clap, mastered many basic commands (hold Daddy's hand, give Momma your cup, let's go to your room, sit in your chair, etc), open and close things, put things "in" (usually puzzle pieces or toys) and a bunch of other stuff we struggled with before.

Speech therapy has also been very beneficial for Maddie and us. Each Thursday for 45 minutes, Maddie goes to visit with her therapist at Jump Start, Noelle, and they work on important skills like repetition together for a majority of the time. Maddie, naturally, eats this up. You mean I get to play with toys and occasionally eat Cheerios while everyone's smiling and happy with me all the time? Sign me up!

Overall, we're both very pleased with the way things have been going. Have we been frustrated at times? Sure. It's easy to feel a little helpless and there's times when I think we both have to catch ourselves from feeling sad - for us, for Maddie, just sad in general. But we know that we've been so fortunate, and that there's so many parents dealing with much more serious issues then we are. Maybe most importantly of all, we know that this is all part of God's plan. We may not know exactly what that plan is yet....but we truly believe it, and we look forward to discovering with her what that plan might be one day.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hearing Aids: Just Getting Started

Let me start off by saying that, after coming to the realization that our first-born child would need hearing aids, there was, I think, a little bit of anxiety between Mel and I about what life would be like with them, how Maddie would handle the hearing aids, how WE would handle the hearing aids. But this blog has been such a blessing and helped us both so much in regards to what to expect and all the rest. If I could ever meet Kelly, whose oldest daughter is in hearing aids as well, I would give her a hug and tell her thank you.

So with that being said, we are about to begin day number three with the hearing aids. How has she done so far? Well, it's only been a few days, but I think we both agree that so far she's passed with flying colors.

I will try not to wax poetic the entire time about them, so I have composed a brief little general FAQ to hopefully answer some of the main questions.

How did Maddie respond to getting them put in for the first time? 
Maddie cried a little bit, more of a "hey what the heck are you doing to my ears" kind of cry noise. But that was mostly it! Although at the end of the first day of her having them, when I tried to put one of them back in after it had fallen out due to some vociferous playing, she was not having it. Times like that are to be expected though - especially at first. Day #2 went a lot better, and as she gets more used to them, hopefully each day will be a little better than the last.

Could she hear things right away? 
To answer the question accurately, kind of I guess yes. But Maddie was diagnosed with "mild to moderate" hearing loss. Meaning she could sort of hear things before, they all just sounded muffled due to her inability to hear certain frequencies of noise very well. Most words in the English language have those frequencies in them. But even before the hearing aids, she could recognize the tones of our voices fairly well, and was able to pick up on if we were playing, mad, trying to get her to do something, etc.

She also heard things she liked and recognized them, i.e. the Frozen soundtrack. The awesome thing now is that, through the wonders of modern technology, she'll be able to pick up on what Anna and Elsa (and Olaf) are singing about. And with the added help from the speech therapy, the hope is she will eventually get caught up on all the consonants, vowels, and everything else she might have missed while her ears "weren't working" very well.

Tell me more about these hearing aids.
Well, what is it you want to know?

Start from the top.
Ok well, the hearing aid was invented in the 1700's and was first called an "ear trumpet"....

Not that far back.
Ok sorry.

Maddie's hearing aid is called a "BTE", or "behind-the-ear" digital hearing aid because it goes, yep you guessed it, behind her ear. The battery and electronic part of the hearing aid sit behind Maddie's ears, and a tiny clear tube wraps over the top of her ear and connects to a soft mold made to fit in the middle of her ear. The inside part of the mold has a little hole in it which provides her ear with noise the hearing aid is helping her hear. There's also a little nylon rope that we have which connects from each hearing aid to a little clip, which we'll be using to clip on to the back of Maddie's clothes. That way in case they ever fall out of her ears, they'll just dangle down to the side of her body until we put them back in instead of falling on the ground and getting trampled on, eaten by the dog, used as hockey pucks, or something far worse like I'm not sure what.

There's no on/off button for the aids themselves - basically they're "on" when the batteries are in them, and when the batteries are in them (obviously) they're going to be in Maddie's ears. On average, according to Maddie's audiologist, the batteries should last about 3-5 days depending on how often she has them in her ears. The first day, we went 11 hours. God bless her. At this rate, we're going to be going through a lot of batteries.

How do you guys feel about things so far?
Honestly? I think we both feel like we underestimated things a little bit. Not that we assumed things would be a piece of cake all day, all the time. But we just have to remember that her new "special ears" are a part of Maddie and a part of her life now. And I'm sure that over time as we get more used to them, and Maddie gets more used to them - we absolutely will.

I guess above all else, we are thankful. Thankful that God blessed us with such an awesome little girl, filled with so much life and energy.

Thankful that this problem is a correctable one, because we know there are so many other families with much greater hardships to deal with.

Thankful that He blessed all those doctors and technicians with the ability to create new hearing technology and improve on it every day so that they, and our awesome audiologist Dr. Wheeler (and wonderful speech therapists), can help Maddie grow up as a normal, happy kid.

And also, thankful that Maddie has two unbelievable sets of grandparents that love her like crazy and are willing to do anything for her. And so many wonderful friends, for always showing they care and being always willing to lend an ear when it seems like everything is overwhelming.

You'll have to believe me when I tell you all this, but I'm not out to make me, my wife, or Maddie out to get attention or seem more important by blogging about our daughter who has a hearing disability. I'm not in this for notoriety, nor will I ever be. But if one person comes to our blog with the same intentions as we did going to Kelly Stamps' blog about her family and her daughter who also has "special ears".....if we can offer at least one other person out there a little more peace of mind....everything I've talked about here tonight and in the days/weeks/months (years? sure why not) to come will be worth it.

Also feel free to filter through all the old posts about sports. Sorry.

 - John

 (Editor's note: Isn't it funny the types of things people talk about as they grow up? Like I mean, two years ago I was on here talking about the Emmy's and live blogging the Super Bowl. Really? Live blogging the Super Bowl? I mean, you talk about asking for attention. Well, those days are gone now. We're moving on to bigger and better things. Which reminds me to tell you that next week I'll be talking about Sabremetrics and the lasting impact they've made on the game of baseball.)

(No not really.) 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Maddie's Announcement

In the year 2012, Mel and I decided we were going to try to have a baby. And try we did.

(Hey now.)


Anyway, nine months later, and we got to meet this little nugget.

Madeline Kara Vittas came into the world on April 30th, 2013. To say that we were so happy the day that she came into our lives would be an understatement

We smiled. A lot.

We cried. I cried mostly. A lot.

As a family, in the last sixteen months we've been through more than our fair share of happiness, sadness, laughter, tears, tears of laughter, frustration, relief, confusion, excitement, and everything in between. 

But mostly, we're thankful. Thankful that God continues to bless us with every day we get to have this delightful little ball of joy in our lives.

And now....

Look who gets to be a big sister. 

Coming March 2015!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Happy birthday, little girl

To our darling daughter on her first birthday, 

The words I am about to write come from an inexperienced parent. 

I've only been at this a year and I'll be honest with you, I still don't know what the heck I'm doing. 

Some of

Most of 

Often. Let's just say often. 

Of course, this is nothing really surprising. In that first year, no parent really does. Books and websites can only help you so much. You've got to learn this stuff on your own, and that's the real beauty of it all.

But my favorite time of the day is approximately 7:30 AM. Wanna know why? That's usually when I slowly creep into your room only to discover you're already awake, holding on to the railing of your crib while jumping up and down like it's a trampoline. And then, right about that point, you turn your head to see me and deliver that infectious smile we love so much. It's my absolute favorite moment of every day. 

(Of course then you get angry with us because we have to change your diaper which you made a mess out of during the night, but usually we're right back on track once you get something to eat for breakfast.)

I love to sit on the ground and play with you. Nothing really too complex yet. No Backgammon or Settlers of Catan. Your favorite game right now involves stacking your Greek alphabet blocks up four, maybe five high and you taking a swipe at them and knocking them to the ground. And then we clap. Then we might go outside to the apple tree in the backyard so you can sit in your swing and enjoy the breeze. 

Obviously it's not always like that. Sometimes you get pretty upset. So upset sometimes, that I feel like there's nothing I can do to make you happy. So you cry, and cry, and cry some more. Sometimes so much so that it even makes me cry as well. (Reader's Note: That hasn't happened in quite some time.) 

Those are the times when I just wish you could talk already and tell me what the problem is and how I can fix it. What do you need? Daddy will get it. What's wrong? Daddy will fix it. The world can be a confusing and frightening place for a baby.

While I'm thinking about it: Your diaper rashes.

I mean, good gosh, those diaper rashes. 


You are a tough little girl though - that much we can already tell. And you took wearing a helmet to help your little head grow like a pro. Probably better than even your parents did. You've taken more hearing tests than we would like to have put you through. And as much as we both would like to hold you and tell you everything's going to be okay with your little ear, deep down we both know it's all part of a greater plan.

I want you to know this important fact: Your Daddy is always going to fall short. I can try my hardest and always show you as much love as one human being can possibly show another. But you are God's perfect, wonderful creation. The love He has for you is immeasurable, don't ever forget that. 

And your Mom and I thank Him every single day for blessing our lives by placing you, our perfect little girl, right in the middle of it.

So our little birthday girl, I guess you're officially a one year old. You're getting bigger each day. Your Mom and I so look forward to watching you grow.

Day by day.

Year by year.

But all the while, we know one little important fact. 

You'll always be our little girl. 

Happy birthday, our little lovey.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I'm angry and I'm sad.  Last Friday, April 4 - dear Fred got to go Home.  He is no longer struggling to breathe, he isn't needing to have fluid drained from his lungs.  He has the perfect white blood cell count.  He isn't in pain.

I'm sad that, (in this life,) I don't ever get to see his face again.  I'm sad that left field will never be the same.  I'm sad that Maddie will never get to know him.  I'm sad that Brenda is left without her husband.  I'm sad that Misti and Julie have lost their awesome dad. 
Like I told Brenda and the girls - I don't pretend to imagine and know what they are going through and feeling.  I know what John and I are going through and feeling, and it sucks - so I truly can't fathom being in their shoes.  But if these last few days have done nothing else, they have shown how loved Fred was by so many people.  Thank you for sharing him with the rest of us.

We love you.  We are better people because of you. 
So, Fred, I really am happy that you are with Jesus right now.

But, selfishly for me, I'm still very very sad.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Our {Summer} Family

A lot of y'all have hobbies - things you get wrapped up in from time to time throughout the year.  You make friends with people you meet at said activities.  Other soccer moms, nerdy CPAs (sorry Gares,) fellow gym rats, etc...  But these are usually casual friendships, and passing acquaintances - you might even be friends with them on Facebook or follow them on Instagram.  But, generally speaking, these are people you're not going to go out of your way to stay in touch with once the season or activity is over. 

You may have noticed, John and I like baseball.  A lot.  (Duh - unless you have been living under a rock)  But this is not just a hobby.  For good and bad, to some extent, it defines who we are.  In the movie Fever Pitch, Jimmy Fallon's character references the "summer family" he has at Fenway.  John and I have made numerous jokes the past several years about our similarities to that character, but really it's not just about baseball.

I spent part of this past week texting with one of our valet drivers about our usher who is in ICU.  So you see, to us, it's not just a summer family.  It's true friends and it's honorary grandparents.  Honorary grandparents who have adopted us into their family.  It's pretending you're immediate family so you can go visit.  It's breaking down in tears because other than praying incessantly you don't know what else to do.  It's thanking God that He has put all of these people in our lives for one reason or another, whether we think we know why or not. 

So, the next time one of y'all says - geez, those Vittas' are a little obsessed with the Rangers.  I will have to bite my tongue to keep from telling you to shut up.  It's not just baseball for us.  It is so much more.