Happy Birthday Fiona!

Today, May 1st 2014, Fiona Kate Isham turns 1 year old.

What a journey the last year has been…

…dreamy flashback music…

Fiona was born 8 pounds, 9 ounces at Northside Hospital in Atlanta on May 1st, 2013:

Fiona "Day 1"

Fiona “Day 1”

with Grandma

with Grandma

On her second day, May 2nd, she failed her infant hearing test. At the time, we were not overly concerned as that is quite common for newborns.

Day 2

Day 2

We were fortunate in that the delivery was uneventful. We have many friends where that was not the case in the last year, and our hearts are saddened greatly by the trials they’ve been through. Despite all our advanced in medical science, delivery is still a complex and risky endeavor. You know who you are, and our thoughts remain with you.

On Friday, May 3rd we arrived at home and learned how to become new parents.

Fiona at home

Fiona at home

Life settled into normalcy, but the failed hearing test always nagged at us. One month later, our fears were confirmed: Fiona was pronounced profoundly deaf in both ears. We were devastated.

Mother's Day 2013

Mother’s Day 2013

We were consumed with guilt, and had no clue where to go from there. After a few days of “why me”, we decided it was time to get on with it.

On June 9th, we started this blog – it’s still painful to read those first words.

We dove in head first, and learned everything we could. We learned about baby sign language, we learned about speech therapy, and eventually we learned about Cochlear Implants. We had never heard of Cochlear Implants before – neither of us have deaf relatives or grew up with deaf friends. Words can not describe the joy this brought us!

Cochlear Implant Illustrated

Cochlear Implant Illustrated

We soon met our great audiologists Lauren and Jenny at Children’s Health Care of Atlanta (CHOA) and Fiona’s new life course began.

Auditory Brainstem Response Test

Auditory Brainstem Response Test

I still remember learning about the “speech banana” and frequently revisit the old video about Fred Flintstone – a much watch if you’ve never seen it.

Frequency Spectrum of Familiar Sounds

Frequency Spectrum of Familiar Sounds

We also met our new friends Lauren and Aneesha at Auditory Verbal Center of Atlanta, and began our lifelong training of auditory verbal therapy. Eliza’s singing voice has come quite far in the interceding months, with”Moooo” becoming her new catch-phrase…


Sound Association

Sound Association

It’s hard to believe, but at just 11 weeks old, Fiona received her first hearing aids in July of 2013. It’s crazy to watch the old video to see how young she looked.

For the next several months, life resumed some normalcy and we learned to live with her hearing aids. The hearing aids were frustrating to say the least – they were not effective at allowing her to hear, and she loved to pull them off at every opportunity. Still, it was a necessary step in the medical journey.

Fiona at 4 months

Fiona at 4 months – Wearing Food is Fun!

As the winter came, we began to look forward to Fiona’s upcoming Cochlear Implant surgery. It was clear the hearing aids were not working, and it was time for the next stage. And the sooner the better.

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

Finally on March 7, 2014 her surgery date was here. We were both excited and a nervous. While implant surgeries are more or less routine now, there’s still plenty of risk.

Surgery Day

Surgery Day

The support we received on that day was incredible, still absolutely touching to us.

2 weeks later, the big day came. Activation Day!

March 20, 2014 was Fiona’s “hearing birthday”. Her first exposure to real sound. You can already see responses in her first video, the it’s gotten SO MUCH BETTER in the intervening weeks.

6 weeks later, and her responses to sound have gotten better and better. She clearly responds to her name, and loves to sing to herself. Mom continues to “moo” with Fiona all day long, it’s hilarious.

So here we are on May 1st, it’s only been 1 year and things have come SO FAR.

On June 6th, Fiona gets her left ear implanted, and we repeat the journey all over again.

I know we say this a lot, but we’re still in awe of all the support everyone has given on this blog and out there in the “world”. We are so thankful for our thoughtful friends and family – this celebration belongs to you as much as us.

Happy Birthday Fiona!

Fiona at 1 Year

Fiona at 1 Year


16 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Fiona!

  1. Pam

    Beautiful birthday girl! Best wishes for a wonderful day. Remind your parents that you are an Isham and will be needing ICE CREAM today :O)

  2. Muriel Lindsay

    Happy first of many happy returns Fiona, and boy are you looking like your Dad these days. What a year, and how nice to be here with so many hurdles handled and huge opportunities ahead. Well done all members of Team Fiona.

  3. Sheri

    Happy Birthday Fiona!! What a journey this past year has been for her. She has made great strides and I can’t wait to see how her hearing and speech progress after the second implant. Keep us posted.

  4. Amanda Lancaster

    Happy Birthday pretty girl. And congrats to Eliza and Mark. The first year is a tough one (even without the added trials you’ve had) so this is a real milestone for you guys too!!!!

  5. Aunt Florence and Uncle Leo

    Happy Birthday Fiona. And yes she needs ice cream to be an Isham. Though we are way up here in the northeast, we can’t wait for the next steps in Fiona’s life. Good job mom and dad for surviving the first year. I’d like to say it will get easier but I’m not so sure it ever gets easier. Love to all of you.

  6. Lynne

    Happy Birthday Fiona! You bring so much joy to so many lives!! Have some ice cream for me!!

  7. Eliza Isham

    Thank you so much everyone!!! What an amazing year it has been. Ditto to what Mark said about the incredible support we’ve received. Fiona has so many wonderful people in her life. Mark, what a beautiful blog entry. What a great dad and husband. 🙂

  8. Alie

    Happy 1st Birthday Fiona!- From your birthday twin, Ben. (and the rest of the McCorvey family)!

  9. Brandon Cassidy

    Happy birthday Fiona. A year into life and you have experienced so much that you will never remember. Although you may not realize the amount of love and support you have received this year, your parents will always know that when things go wrong and they doubt they can continue, family and friends will always be there to help them, no matter the odds.

    Andrew, Brandon and Samantha

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