Sunday, July 27, 2008

Max's Story....An Abbreviated Version

Max Dylan Hawkins was born on June 25th, 2002 at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a wonderful, perfect day. Max's delivery went quickly, relatively pain free (according to me) and without complication. Just a few hours after entering the hospital as nothing more than a semi-bald nervous father-to-be and a large (but beautiful), extremely pregnant mother-to-be, we were blessed with a healthy, handsome baby boy.

I remember the day like it was yesterday.... Stephanie's mother bouncing off the walls in the delivery room, feeling like I would drop the baby as the nurse almost tossed Max to me, the surprise in my grandfather's (Big Max) voice when we told him Max's name, the smiles on my parent's faces the first time that they laid eyes on the baby......Yes, it was a wonderful day.

The following days at the hospital went pretty much the same way they do for most new families. We slept a little, ate a lot and visited with more friends and family than I even new existed. We had one small hiccup, but didn't think much about it at the time. In Georgia, all newborn babies have their hearing tested. The nurse came in one morning and took Max back for his hearing test. Stephanie and I took this as nothing more than a time to catch a few quick winks, which we did. Shortly after leaving, the nurse returned with Max along with the audiologist who happened to be on call that day. She informed us that Max had not passed his hearing exam, but immediately put us at ease, explaining that many newborn babies fail their initial exam due to the fact that they have a great deal of fluid in their ears. She said that Stephanie could bring Max back in a few weeks after the fluid had time to clear and that most likely every thing would be fine.

Well, since really horrible things only happened to other people and since the audiologist seemed so confident that Max's failed hearing test was caused by fluid, I really didn't think anything else about it. We happily went home from the hospital, immediately kicked the dog's out of the house and attempted to acclimate ourselves to sleep in three hour intervals. Everything about our new arrival was as it should be. Max was proving to be the most wonderful blessing that Stephanie and I could ever imagine.

I don't remember a whole lot surrounding the days that led up to Max's audiology appointment. I do remember that Stephanie's brother and his dog spent the night with us for some reason. I also remember that I wasn't super happy with my job at the time and that I was supposed to take a placement test with a certain orange and white logoed, home improvement company the day after Max's appointment. Anyway, the day of the audiology appointment is still crystal clear in my brain. I was working from home that day, doing some paperwork and trying to schedule some sales calls in Eastern Tennessee for the rest of the week.

I remember Stephanie walking out the door with Max in his "bucket" and neither of us acting overly concerned about the upcoming exam. We new everything would be fine. What else should I have expected? We were God fearing, Church going people and nothing really horrible could ever happen to us. Well, I had experienced two other life altering phone calls in my life up until that point, both had lasting effects, but neither rocked my world like the one I was about to receive that fateful afternoon.

Hey, It's Stephanie...(voice sounding a little distant)
Hey. How'd it go?
Well, Ive got some bad news.
(silence) Max failed his hearing exam.
Max failed his hearing exam and it's conclusive. (voice faltering)
What does that mean? (throat tightening, panic rising)
Max is deaf....completely deaf.....(tears)
No!!!! Why!!!!! I don't understand!!!!! (panic, dizziness, anger with God, fear, hopelessness)

Stay tuned. Things get happier. I promise!

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