Author Archives: Eliza Isham

Fiona’s 1st Hearing Birthday!!

Today, March 20th, is Fiona’s 1st Hearing Birthday!!!  Today was the day that her right cochlear implant was “turned on” and she heard sound for the first time.  What a year its been!!  Mark and I want to take this moment to thank all of our family and friends for being so supportive. This journey can be scary sometimes and we couldn’t have made it without you.  We’ve also received so much guidance from other CI families (some of whom we’ve never met). Thanks to you all too!

We want to thank Dr. Herrmann (Fiona’s surgeon), Lauren Seale (Fiona’s AV therapist), Aneesha Fairley (Fiona’s AV therapist), Dr. Lauren Stott (audiology), Dr. Jennie Allen (audiology), and Amanda Love (audiology extern).  We work with the most incredible bunch in the field and are so grateful to all of your hard work and love you show Fiona.

We are going to celebrate her Hearing Birthday this weekend with a huge cookie cake and balloons with our family.  I’ll post some pictures of the fun cake afterwards!


Fiona checking out her new stairs at her new house! We moved to Alpharetta this Tuesday. 

Here are some videos of what’s been going on.

Fiona telling me she wants her ears after nap time:

Fiona saying “Minnie Mouse”:

Fiona saying “Elmo”:

Fiona likes to show me how her baby dolls cry:

Fiona singing “5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed”. She whispers it – you can’t hear it that well.  Our good friend Samantha Cassidy made Fiona this awesome felt board!

Australian study on Early Intervention

There was an incredible study in Australia published yesterday that says with early intervention, deaf children can develop better speech and vocabulary than their hearing peers.  Here is the link:

“Based on data from 696 Australian and New Zealand children, the study found that 83 per cent of deaf preschool children had better or average vocabulary skills compared with typical hearing children. Almost 78 per cent had better or average language skills and 73 per cent had speech in the normal range or better.”

We are so thankful for the newborn hearing screenings so that we could start therapy right away and get Fiona the implants as soon as we could.   And now Fiona can hear us talk to her ALL DAY LONG!!! 🙂

Lots of pictures and videos

Looks like I’ve been writing a blog post once a month. So I’ll update you on what’s been happening this past month.  Fiona is learning how to say a word or two per week.  She’s started saying the following words: ew, woah, bye, hi, home, hot, head, and book

Ever since Fiona started putting the magnet piece back on her head we haven’t had to use hats.  We used hats in the past so that she wouldn’t pull off the processor and break it.  Its like she understands the importance of her “ears” now.  So since this has happened we can use fun pony tails and bows in her hair.


Fiona is also extremely interested in helping mommy and daddy with chores.  She will get a new trash bag out of the drawer and shake it out and then hand it to dad to put inside the can.  She loves unloading the dishwasher, wiping the floor and LOVES to “help” cook.


Wiping the floor


Scooping out the seeds.  Tons of language can be used with these activities.

About two weeks ago Fiona decided that she does not like her headbands anymore.  We have switched to longer cords and she can wear her Naidas on her clothes.  Advanced Bionics provides clips to attach the processors to her shirt.  Unfortunately it causes her shirts to pull down and seems really uncomfortable.  I stole this idea from a CI mom to sew pockets on her undershirts. Lots of fun colors!  Its actually nice not using the headbands.  We can see her hair more and I bet it feels more comfy for Fiona.  Of course who knows where we will be next week.  I’ve learned to be very accommodating and patient with changes.



Here are a few videos of Fiona’s new words.

And here are more pictures. Yep, I take lots of pictures of Fiona.



Thanks for reading!

Ear back on!

I think this is very blog-worthy.  Fiona has figured out how to put her cochlear implant magnet back on her head!  She just figured this out yesterday and has been practicing over and over.  She’s got the right side down but hasn’t yet mastered the left yet.  That makes me wonder if she’s right handed.  For a while I was thinking she was left handed. We shall see.

Anyways, take a look!  This is an amazing skill that Mark and I will surely benefit from.  🙂

Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday and has a Happy New Year!  Fiona is sick today and so we will be celebrating at home.  There will be lots of resting, Play-Doh and Baby Bumblebee singing (which are two of Fiona’s favorite things).

It has been quite a year.  The scariest year since Fiona had 2 cochlear implant surgeries.  But also the most exciting year since we’ve experienced Fiona hearing for the first time and learning how to listen and talk.  This is probably one of Fiona’s most important years in her life even though she won’t have any memory of it.

Fiona has been hearing for 9 months.  I wanted to share a few videos showing some of her progress.  Its been extremely hard capturing these on video since Fiona doesn’t like being recorded.  Also she seems to be great at running away once I hit record.  You don’t have to watch all of these!  It may get boring. 🙂

Saying “ho ho ho” for Santa:

Fiona’s newest word – Milk:

She likes to say “no no no” while moving her finger in the air.  You can’t see the finger waving in this video but its really cute.  Notice how she feeds Kona and then tells him no for eating the food.  Ha!   I’ve been trying to teach Fiona not to feed Kona from the table.  So I think she halfway gets it?  She’s able to verbalize “m” but not “n” yet.

Fiona says “all gone” and “out”:

We play a bumblebee game a lot where the bumblebee stings us.  This game is also played a lot with snakes made out of play-doh:

So to be extremely thorough in my blog post here are 18 “learn to listen” sounds that Fiona comprehends and can vocalize the sound they make.  Example (She knows the plane goes ahhhhh and can vocalize ahhhhh).  Dog, horse, duck, cat, car, bus, snake, truck, santa, clown, bee, train, cow, monkey, baby, boat, plane, and sheep.

Here are words that Fiona uses daily.  So far she had said 16 words.  uh oh, up, on, off, out, open, mama, eye, high five, all gone/all done, hat, ow, squeeze, cheese, keys, and milk.

Of course these words that come out of her mouth aren’t the correct pronunciation.  But she’s using the skills she has now and that will get clearer over time.  For any baby (typical hearing or not) the words aren’t always 100% clear at first.  I think that myself and Fiona’s therapist Lauren are the only two that really understand all of her words right now.  haha!  And well her dad and grandma Penny get a lot of it.  🙂

Thanks for reading this very long blog (if you are still reading at this point)!!!

Fiona can hear whispers!

Booth Testing: 

It was confirmed today during Fiona’s booth test that she can hear 15 dB (decibels) which is the level of whispering! According to our audiologist Fiona rocked it in the booth today. She responded to all of the ling 6 sounds in the speech banana (which represents various speech sounds from high to low frequencies).

Speech Banana

Speech Banana

Fiona even started waving at the TV screen (Finding Nemo) when she heard a sound. That made it even easier for our audiologist to determine if Fiona was hearing each sound. Just to recall there are 2 TV screens positioned to the left and right of Fiona. After a sound is made from the right direction, they want their patient to look to the right and then Finding Nemo will pop up.

Therapy Update:

Fiona is still doing really well with therapy.  Her word comprehension continues to rise everyday. She knows how to vocalize half of the 22 “learning to listen” sounds. (example: she vocalizes ahhhh for airplane, meow for cat)  She’s doing a lot more gestures for several songs that we sing.  Her babbling keeps getting fancier and fancier.  She can vocalize about 10 words and knows their meaning.   

Here are a few videos.  I hope you like my singing voice, haha!

Here is a video of our blessing.  Fiona’s got the folding hands down and the Amen at the ending.  My godson Drew taught me this blessing when he was itty bitty.  🙂

Here is a video of Fiona doing hand gestures to her favorite song Baby Bumblebee.

Other Fun Stuff:

We had such a fun Halloween!  Fiona loved running around the neighborhood and trick-or-treating.  We even got to trick-or-treat down the hallways at the Auditory Verbal Center with Fiona’s therapist Lauren.

lauren and fionalegs on table


Dancing and meowing

Fiona and I have been concentrating a lot on music these past two weeks.  I’ve always sung nursery rhyme songs to her since she was itty bitty.  This has always been a huge part of therapy.  But lately I’ve been really pushing the recorded kid’s sing along songs.  I also took her to her very first music class!  Moms and their babies/toddlers sit around in a circle and sing together, play musical instruments and do silly movements.  Fiona was really intrigued.   So this afternoon after therapy she started dancing!!  Before today her idea of dancing is swaying side to side – which is great.  It was just fun to see her getting into it. 🙂

Here is Fiona dancing:

Fiona has also started meowing.  She also blows a kiss towards the end:



Fiona talking on the phone

I wanted to share this cute video of Fiona pretending to talk on the phone.  This is a new skill that she’s developed this week.  By the way this is an old iPhone that doesn’t work.  🙂 I didn’t want anyone to think that we gave our 16 month an iPhone. Haha!!!