And so it began….

It was a frosty morning that April in 1982, the middle of the month, you’d think it would be warming up here in the Pacific Northwest. But maybe it was my nerves that was sending chills thru my body. We arrived at the Hospital early in the morning to get my labor started. This being my third baby and both previous births were not easy, I was a bit nervous. All settled in and ready to go, here we go , one more time, I can do it. This me self talking me way thru this ordeal called giving birth. The nurse came in to hook up the drug that would get my labor going, a must since my “water” broke the day before. In those days most people never knew if they were having a boy or girl but then it really didn’t matter to us since this baby will have a brother who was 5 years older and a sister who was 3 1/2 years older. To fast forward over all the gory details, labor was extremely hard but not too long, about 8 hours from start to finish. After much struggles baby boy Bergsma was born but I noticed that all the doctors jumped up and looked concern at the moment of birth. I was so exhausted I could barely whisper “what’s wrong?” ” nothing” said the doctor. But I noticed the umbilical cord was tightly wrapped around the baby’s neck and he was not breathing, actually he looked very pale and limp, dead-like really. After all that work was he even alive?  It seemed like an hour went by but I’m quite sure it was only 20 seconds when I heard a wonderful newborn cry. Whew, as I looked over at him, he was nice size I thought, maybe 9 pounds. I was close he was 8# 14 oz and doing pretty well by now. We were ready to introduce Mitchel Kent Bergsma.
At home this baby was spoiled by his sister who loves to sit and hold him. He was a very good baby and I didn’t know what a good baby was like since both his older brother Tyler and sister Tandi were cryers. They cried so much I didn’t know if I could handle another baby who cried. The first week we are doing good, no crying, and on we went , no crying. I can’t remember exactly when I took Mitch to the doctor in concern but I do remember sitting in the room waiting for the doctor to come in, I laid baby Mitchie on the table and said “there, take a look at him”, something must be wrong. Dr Johnson, our kids pediatrician, looked at the baby and said what’s wrong?  I told him it’s been months and I’ve not heard him cry yet, so something must be wrong with him. The doctor took the baby and checked him out thoroughly , then turned to me and said , “well, not sure what to tell you”.  I knew it, I thought, something is wrong! He continued, “I think you have a good baby this time” and then he smiled. I think I actually cried, never had I actually enjoyed the newborn stage of my other two babies because they cried all day. At this point I don’t actually believe it to be true but I went home and told my husband what the doctor said.
Baby Mitchie was such a good baby that he would sleep 12 hours at night and take a couple very long naps during the day. When he was awake he was always happy. He seemed a bit different though and I chalked it up to being such a good baby. And remember we had never experienced this up till now.  He was extremely visual, he would watch and copy your facial expressions, if you smiled big at him me would do the same back to you with his two huge dimples. As he lay in the little seat on the table he made such a loud noise that we all covered our ears. It was a weird sound coming out of a small baby I thought. But I had a good baby this time and that’s what they are like I  guess. Looking back, I now know different but at the time that’s what I thought.
Baby Mitchie was a very huggable baby, so lovable and very happy, always smiling. I can’t really ever say I remember him crabby or crying. When he was around 8 months old when I carried him in my arms he would always put his hand on my throat when I would talk. He did such cute things, so different from his brother and sister.
One time we left him with my sister and her family when he was around 15 months old, it was over the Fourth of July and they took him to a fireworks show. My sister mentioned that he sat the whole time with his eyes shut and seemed scared. It seemed that whenever he was scared or not sure of what was happening he would just shut down and close his eyes. Months later we know why he behaved that way, but it seemed odd at the time.
Months went by, still a good baby, but I’m noticing that he seems to look me in the face and follow my expression but doesn’t really respond to anything I say to him. If I would say “daddy’s home” and by this close to a year old he should understand some of what I’m saying and respond to me. Sometime he wouldn’t even look at me when I’d talk to him, again I thought was he just good-natured or a bit odd? Actually I hate to say this but I did think at one point that maybe he just wasn’t very bright. It was time for his 9 month check up. One thing I really liked about Dr David Johnson was that he never rushed thru the visit, he would sit and listen to any concerns I had. He didn’t disappoint this time either. The doctor asked how everything was going, I hesitated to say this, but I thought I have to get my concern out. I told the doctor I think maybe this baby is not very smart. Doctor J. sat down next to me and said   “well  tell me about it, why do you say that?” I went on to tell him how the baby ignores me when I am trying to get his attention or how he doesn’t respond to me correctly for what I’m saying. The doctor thought for a few minutes, and said maybe he doesn’t hear you. Doesn’t hear me I thought? What, everyone hears, especially babies. After some thought I said, ok then maybe he needs tubes in his ears, I hear that fixes most babies ear problems. Well, doctor slowly said as he was looking thru the files, he hasn’t had any ear infections. So thats not the problem. My mind is running wild, what! Doesn’t hear me! What, everyone hears!  What’s happening here?  The doctor said to go home, talk to my husband Andy, think about it and come back in a few months for the next check up and we’ll see what we think then.
I agreed thats what I would do but my mind is running wild with thoughts. As I am driving home I can’t stop thinking about it and it is starting to come together.  After talking it through with Mitch’s dad, it didn’t take long for us to realize that its possible this baby doesn’t hear. I am thinking of all the things that were different, the strange noises he made, so loud we covered our ears and he made weird little noises in his throat, and always focusing on our faces. I put me hand on my own throat, as he always did, then made a sound.  Oh man, it hit me, he was feeling my voice!  Now I get it, he would feel my voice and then look me in the face. He liked the vibration in my throat. He knew something was happening, he was a smart baby, so very smart really!  At such a young age he was already adapting! I think he was figuring out his surrounds in his own way and learning to deal with them.
That night Andy and I were going over all the details of this baby’s short life so far and all the ways and funny things he did differently than the other two kids. We knew that night, we might have a deaf baby. We bonded together and decided that we would find out everything we could so we would know how to help this truly delightful baby.
I can look back today and say we never had the dreaded “why us” thoughts. We had hard times and a new path to fight through but seldom a pity us syndrome. We thanked God for that first wonderful year of Mitch’s life without wonder of something being wrong.
And this was the easy part…..

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