People shared their stories and even welcomed us into their homes, filling us with hope. Through them, my wife and I realized that prayer, the blessed oil she applied to Sam's ears, and the trips to Saint Katharine Drexel's shrine would not result in Sam miraculously waking up one day as a hearing child. The cochlear implant would be Sam's miracle, and the kindness of other parents helped us see it that way.
About 5 months into the process, we decided to pursue a second opinion at another, larger children's hospital. I was reluctant to look elsewhere given the level of attention Sam received at the smaller hospital, where we ultimately stayed. While the second opinion didn't provide anything new from a medical perspective, I'm glad we went for it.
The hospital staff invited us to a picnic for families of children with implants. We mingled with parents, surgeons, audiologists and, most important, kids. We got to see and speak with children whose abilities astonished us. We also received firsthand reviews of a nearby school that specializes in kids with implants.
We spoke to parents about sign language. Teresa and I hesitated to pursue signing for fear that it could impede the verbal strides that we hope Sam will make after he receives the implant. The parents calmed those concerns, inspiring us to use basic signs that, at 11 months, Sam is starting to try himself. It's incredibly gratifying to see Sam give his best effort on the sign for milk or smile and kick his legs with excitement when Teresa makes a sign for cookie.
We're not the kind of people who are comfortable striking up conversations with strangers, but we've learned that being more outgoing can benefit Sam. Teresa befriended a young woman with an implant working in Walgreen's and learned that she's thriving in a local high school. After a call to a state senator's office went unreturned, I seized an opportunity to speak with him as he was waiting for his car at Jiffy-Lube, opening a relationship with someone who could someday serve as an important advocate for Sam's schooling.