The end of June has been a season of pretty big changes in the Lucas household over the past few years. Two years ago Monday I arrived in Rwanda and met our adopted daughter Maliah for the first time. A year ago yesterday I started a new job. And last week we marked the first anniversary of Maliah’s Activation Day, when her cochlear implants were turned on and she heard sound for the first time.
In the day-to-day it sometimes feels like we’ve crept along on this hearing journey, but looking back over the whole year she’s really made remarkable progress. The most amazing thing is simply that sound is now a regular part of her world. For the first few months she cried every time we “turned on her ears,” as we say, because noise was a foreign intrusion. Now she gets mad when her processors come off. She wants sound.
We celebrate little milestones. She’s starting to imitate noises now: this morning Shawna asked her if she wanted more banana, and she said “na-na.” She’s just hit a point where I can sometimes make her laugh just by using funny voices. It’s the kind of thing you take for granted with most kids—I’ve been able to crack Gideon up practically since he came out of the womb. But with Maliah, it’s cause for rejoicing.
Her whole demeanour has changed. Yesterday Shawna emailed me a picture of the day I first met Maliah; she was a tiny little thing who barely moved or made a sound. Now she never stops doing either. She’s constantly experimenting with new sounds. The latest is a high-pitched squeal that gives us a taste of what life will be like when we have a little girl who knows how to scream.
She’s also more engaged and interactive with the rest of us. When we went to the beach last week she made a game of wandering out to the water’s edge, then racing back to shore and hiding behind my legs as the waves approached. And she and Gideon were actually playing together tonight. He was pushing an overturned stool around the kitchen and she was chasing him, and they were both giggling. She barely acknowledged that he existed until just recently.
There are still lots of days where we get frustrated and wonder if we’re not helping her development enough and oh my goodness we have no idea what we’re doing. But when I look back at the infant who practically lived in a bubble two years ago and the vibrant, curious, always-on-the-go toddler we have now, sometimes it’s hard to fathom she’s the same kid.