Deaf baby hears mother's voice for the first time
On August 2nd this year, Christy Keane gave birth to a beautiful little girl called Charlotte. She had bright blue eyes, adorable chubby cheeks, and - as far as everybody could tell - was a perfectly healthy baby. However, doctors had some news for Christy and her husband Daniel: Charlotte had bilateral profound congenital hearing loss.
This came as a bit of a shock to the parents, who weren't warned at any point during the pregnancy that the baby might have hearing problems, and have no history of deafness on either side of their families. In an emotional post on Instagram, Christy wrote:
"It still feels strange to say out loud- our daughter is deaf. To be honest, it still doesn't fully seem real ... Sometimes I worry the darkness and silence must feel overwhelmingly lonely and scary for her at night. I pray my touch and presence is enough to reassure her throughout the day."
For a while, Christy accepted that her little girl would never be able to hear, and began planning ways in which she could still ensure the best quality of life for Charlotte.
However, after two months of not being able to hear at all, Charlotte was given a hearing aid - and her response was beautiful.
As soon as her mom says "hello", little Charlotte breaks into a huge smile. She looks in awe of her mother, and - amazingly - appears to be holding back happy tears as she hears voices for the first time.
The family never intended to post the video publicly but, after some prompting from family, put the clip on Facebook so that their friends could share their happiness. In no time at all, however, the post gained over 10 million views, and has been shared thousands of times across various platforms.
In an interview about the short video, Christy recalled the moment her daughter's expression changed upon hearing her voice:
"I had never in my life seen that face before.
"I'm her mother, and I know the look in her eyes when she's sad, upset or hurting, and that connection, and that moment when our eyes met and she heard my voice for the first time, that was true emotion from her.
"All this time that we had spent sad that she wasn't able to hear us, all that pain went away."
For now, the hearing aid only amplifies what little sound Charlotte is able to hear - but there may be an even more effective treatment for her in the future.
When she is closer to a year old, Charlotte may be able to get cochlear implants, which would actually improve the quality of her hearing without the need for hearing aids. However, Charlotte's parents are still learning American Sign Language so that they can communicate better with their daughter regardless of how strong her hearing is.
They also have plans to visit speech therapists in order to eventually help her learn to talk.
"She's taught me so much about connection, engagement and perspective that I otherwise wouldn't have even had the possibility of knowing," Christy said. She added: "Every day, we experience a miracle when we put her hearing aids in and get to see her smile."
Even with what little hearing she has at the moment, Charlotte is still fascinated by new sounds and voices. According to her parents, she loves listening to her older sister chatting away, and always smiles when she hears her mom singing.