When I was sick with cancer as a child I lost my hair due to chemotherapy. I had a hat. I think my Aunt Janet had given me this hat. For whatever reason it was the only hat I wore for months until my hair grew back. It was literally my security blanket. When people see a child with a perfectly bald head, they know that most likely that child is undergoing chemotherapy and it creates a label. I hated that label. I think I felt like this hat would shield me from being labelled.
We found out sometime at the end of January 2019 that Oscar had moderate-severe hearing loss in both of his ears. He received his hearing aids Feb 14, 2019. When you have hearing aids some things are different. You have to take them out to swim or bathe and wait 30mins after before putting them back in so that the ears can dry. It is difficult to wear sunglasses with hearing aids. It is difficult to wear a regular hat because it might cover up the microphone on the hearing aid. And winter toques can also create a lot of frequency (that high pitched noise that hearing aids can make) because they cover the microphone.
My friend Lindsey had given Oscar a knit hat as a gift when he was born. This was perfect for him. The knit was loose enough that allowed sound to enter the microphone without causing frequency. He wore this hat all the time. What I also liked about the hat was that it covered up his hearing aids. I wasn’t ready for the stares or the questions. Everything was still so new and overwhelming and I was so sensitive. I just knew that I couldn’t handle it, so I was happy to cover them up.
I mentioned this to my social worker. She told me a story that broke my heart. She shared with me a story of one of her other clients. This mom had a child who was in a wheelchair, and she said that whenever she pushes her child out in public she always looks down at the ground. She said that she does this to avoid the stares. I could relate to this story and how this mom felt, because that is exactly how I felt but with the hearing aids. The hearing aids were a symbol that my child was different. I didn’t and still don’t want for my child to be labelled as anything other than who he is. I know that some parents go through a lot and spend years learning of a diagnosis for their child. I don’t want to seem ungrateful that I have a diagnosis for my son. I just don’t want it to define him.
Winter was turning into spring and the toque was becoming too much. I knew that it would soon be time to take the hat off. I didn’t want my son (although he was way to young) or my daughter to ever perceive me covering up his hearing aids as me being ashamed of them. I wasn’t. It was solely me just not feeling emotionally prepared for what may come. I remember the day that my parents made me take my hat off. Other than the day that I had had surgery to remove the tumor, it was the hardest thing that I experienced through my ordeal with cancer. Hats are a symbol for me now. A symbol of protection, a symbol of strength and a symbol of moving forward.
My son now wears many different hats. But this one is cute and I highly recommend it for any infant with hearing aids. Gap ($19.95)https://www.gapcanada.ca/browse/product.do?pid=215598233&pcid=999&vid=1&searchText=baby+hat#pdp-page-content