On the 4th of July 2014, our beautiful little girl Mia was born. It was a very bittersweet day and a complete blur. I was overwhelmed with so much love for our first born. Not only that but I was also anxious to find out whether our little girl would have a hearing loss due to my history. I was born with profound hearing loss and was informed during my pregnancy that there is a fifty percent chance that our child would have a hearing loss too.

Mia had her hearing screening test a couple of hours after she was born. I remember feeling extremely nervous and praying that our child would be spared from having to live with hearing loss. Sadly, the nurse explained that there was no response from both ears. Our hearts sank. Being profoundly deaf myself, all I could think about was the hardships and struggle Mia would face in the future.  I was extremely fortunate to have parents who inspired me to embrace my deafness, to be strong and confident. My mother who has been my backbone, dedicated her life in helping me learn to speak and listen. Being profoundly deaf and growing up with hearing aids, I relied heavily on lipreading. It was a daily struggle coping in school and noisy situations and I did not want this for my little girl.  My parents who were with me throughout the testing reminded me that I had a wonderful childhood and life despite the obstacles I faced. My mother held my face and said the most heartfelt words: “Rayan, you were the best thing that ever happened to us. Your daughter will be the best thing that ever happened to you too.  I promise you this, she will be a star”. Those words will stay with me forever. Fast forward five beautiful and magical years, our bright little star has exceeded far beyond our expectations.

The support and advice we have received from our family, teacher of the Deaf and audiologists has been outstanding. Mia was fitted with hearing aids at 10 weeks old, but this provided very little benefit. We were strongly advised to consider Cochlear Implants for our daughter as it was her only chance of escaping a world of silence. This was something my mother wanted me to consider when I was younger, but I was not ready to go through this huge change as a teenager. We did a lot of research and made the best decision of our lives. I decided to go ahead and do the surgery not just for Mia, but also for myself. 

Mia and Rayan's cochlear implant journey

Mia had her surgery on the 2nd of June 2015 and was “switched on” on a month later, just before her first birthday. It was the most nerve wracking moment and I felt sick with worry.  How would she react to the new sounds?  Would she be able to say the words “I love you” to her family? Would she like her new “ears”? We were told not to expect any reaction from the initial switch on. When the processors turned on and the sound of drums echoed the room, Mia’s eyes widened and she had this expression of shock and disbelief. She was hearing sounds already.. Then came my switch on and this was the moment I would learn what hearing through a cochlear implant would be like. I burst into tears. It was nothing like I imagined. The sound was so robotic and unnatural and at that moment I felt I had made the biggest mistake of my life, both for myself and my child. Little did I know what was about to unfold in the next few months. 

The second “switch on” was a stark difference to the first. Mia reacted much more to sounds and was startled by the drums, bursting into tears.  It was such an emotional and precious moment. I also felt the difference in the second switch on. For the first time in my life, I could hear birds singing, beeping from the washing machine and other high frequency sounds. However my progress was slower than Mia’s. She was absolutely flying with her CI’s and having it at such a young age meant it became a part of her. She was the happiest, most resilient and determined little girl possible. Mia’s Teacher of the Deaf could see her rising potential and mentioned Auditory Verbal Therapy (AVUK), I will never be able to thank her enough for advising us to participate in it. 

When I first met Noel at AVUK, my worries and concerns about my child’s future began to diminish. His encouragement, positivity and commitment to helping deaf children was just amazing. We were incredibly fortunate to have access to the Family Bursary scheme, where a substantial percentage of the fees are funded by the charity. This has provided us access to Auditory Verbal UK and without it this may not have been possible.  Mia’s first session was an absolute breeze and she instantly connected with her speech therapist from the first session and we never looked back. Her progress was phenomenal.  As a deaf parent, I was determined for Mia to achieve her full potential and at times would take things too far. One of the most important advice I got from her speech therapist was to be Mia’s mother, not her teacher. This allowed me to take a step back and learn to enjoy my time with my daughter.

As a result of AVUK and the constant support we received, Mia continues to achieve age appropriate language and is thriving both at home and in school. By the time she graduated from AVUK at the age of four years, she had the average language skills of a seven year old.  She is now almost six years old and a force to be reckoned with. She has taught us so much and her personality is just out of this world. She is confident and speaks clearly and fluently, loves to sing and dance, reads out loud and boy can she argue like a lawyer. There are no words to describe how proud and blessed we are to be her parents. We could not have gotten through this without the support of our loving family, Teacher of the Deaf and of course AVUK. Even though Mia graduated almost two years ago, she still watches her sessions and always asks to visit Noel, her favourite speech therapist. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Rayan Basma