Almost two years ago, we took Sunshine to her first cleft clinic day. It was a very long day (smack dab in the middle of nap time, mind you) filled with seeing lots of doctors who poked and prodded my child … the child who had only been home from China for a month and had already been through more trauma than a lot of kids will experience in their whole lifetime … the child who didn’t truly trust her parents yet. The last doctor we saw that day (after hours of being shuffled around) was the ENT. At that point, Sunshine was starving, sleep deprived, traumatized, and just plain mad. Totally understandable, I would have been mad too. As I forcefully held Sunshine down while she was kicking and screaming, the ENT looked into her ears and told us she couldn’t see anything because of the wax build-up. She then said she’d need to clean out her ears to get a good look.
That’s about the time I put the brakes on. I didn’t even know what “cleaning out her ears” would entail, but I knew it was going to be too traumatic for my girl. Very much against the ENT’s judgment, I told her that we would not be cleaning out her ears right then. I just knew it was too much. She had already been through so much that day, and let’s face it, Sunshine. didn’t. trust. me. Annoyed and frustrated with me, the ENT reluctantly agreed and said that it could be done while she was under general anesthesia before the tubes were placed. That sounded like a much better idea to me. My mama bear claws retracted and I turned back into my “normal” mostly-pleasant self.
Now let me be clear, I do not advocate routinely denying medical procedures for children. But in that moment, at that exact time, I knew in my heart that “cleaning out her ears” was just not in Sunshine’s best interest and it was up to me to say so. Almost two years later, I still believe that was the right decision. Sunshine went onto have her ears cleaned and tubes placed under general anesthesia without complication, and it all worked out just fine.
So fast-forward to yesterday, Sunshine had an ENT check-up. It was “standard procedure” – just to check her hearing, and decide whether she’d need another set of tubes. I’m happy to report that she’s on the lower end of “normal” for hearing and that because her speech is coming along so well, they don’t see any need for another set of tubes right now! She did need to have her ears cleaned though (something about Asian ear wax and those tiny ear canals makes them difficult to keep clean at home). I agreed and made some off-the-cuff comment about it being totally different two years later.
And that’s when the ENT had a lightbulb moment … she said, “Ahhhh, you’re that mom. You know, I have to tell you … ever since you said what you said, I’ve stopped requiring newly adopted kids to have their ears cleaned. You really stuck with me, and what you said makes a lot of sense.” A big smile came across my face knowing that my decision had been validated. Mamas really do know best and we are our children’s best advocates. Sunshine then went on to have her ears cleaned out yesterday, sans trauma. It sure does feels good to be heard.