Editor’s Note: This post is not intended as medical advice. Always consult a medical professional or physician before treatment of any kind.
When Christy Keane was pregnant with her second daughter, doctors saw nothing to indicate that her baby wasn’t developing as expected. But when doctors tested baby Charlotte’s hearing, they discovered that she had bilateral profound congenital hearing loss.
According to the American Hearing Research Foundation, this type of hearing loss occurs in one out of every 1,000 to 2,000 births. This condition may have given baby Charlotte a very quiet beginning in life, but her mother assures that baby Charlotte, or “Charly” as they call her, is very loved. Keane writes in an Instagram post, “You won’t hear us tell you ‘I love you,’ but I promise you will feel it. With every touch, look, and smile, you will feel our love surrounding you sweet girl. No matter what this journey brings, we will love you through it.”
Keane tells Babble, “We are so proud that she is our daughter. We love how much joy she has brought to people and we can’t wait to share her next milestones!”
In a more recent post, we learn that baby Charly does indeed get to hear her mother say those precious three words, as she has been gifted hearing aids to help amplify sounds. Charly’s reaction to hearing her mother say “I love you” is an absolute tearjerker! It comes as no surprise that this special moment has gone viral.
Initially, Keane planned only to share the video with friends and family, but was encouraged to make the post public. She could have never expected the impact this private moment would make on the world. To date, the video has been viewed 17 million times on Facebook and has almost 8 million views on YouTube.
In the video, Keane says to Charly, “I’ve never seen that face before! Are you emotional? You’re gonna make me cry! I love you. I love you!”
When asked what she wanted others to know about hearing loss, Keane tells Babble:
“I would like others to know how completely capable individuals with hearing loss are! If a family finds themselves in a situation similar to ours, take a deep breath and know that it is going to be more than OK. Reach out to families like ours for support and questions!”
The mom of two continues:
“Love on your baby, talk to him to her, and know that he or she is perfect. Take the time to learn about deaf culture and research American Sign Language and cochlear implants to find the best option for your family. The earlier you start intervention, the better chance at achieving optimal language skills for your little one!”
Most babies are given a newborn hearing screening before leaving the hospital, which can consist of an otoacoustic emissions test, an auditory brainstem response test, or both. Both tests only take a few minutes to perform and are painless. If a baby fails these tests, it does not necessarily mean the baby has hearing loss. According to Boys Town National Research Hospital, 10 percent of newborns will not pass these initial screenings, and less than one percent of babies will have permanent hearing loss.
There are a few reasons that babies with normal hearing will not pass these tests. In some cases, a newborn’s movement or crying will yield poor results. Vernix in the ear canal can also cause issues. When Charly was tested, doctors told her parents that there was possibly fluid in her middle ear, but further testing proved otherwise.
No one knows for sure the degree to which the hearing aids are helping Charly, but the video makes it clear that they are helping. Her family will continue to help her explore the world with her new “magic ears” as they like to call them.
The family is also researching cochlear implants — a device that directly stimulates the auditory nerve, unlike hearing aids that simply amplify sounds. Cochlear implants are used when hearing aids do not offer enough benefit to the user. According to MED-EL, a leader in cochlear implants, children who receive them before age 3 have a much higher rate of success, as the child’s brain is still building neural connections.
In response to her video going viral, Keane wrote:
We agree, Christy.