Abigail’s Story

My name is Abigail I have 2 children, Jensen who is 5 and Riva who will be 2 in just under 4 weeks.

Riva was born with bilateral microtia type 1 right side, and type 3 left side. When I gave birth to Riva I noticed her smallest ear immediately and asked the midwife what was wrong she said, “Oh it will be okay, it will just be curled over from coming down the birth canal.” I knew in myself that, that wasn’t the case (mothers’ instinct), so once we got out of the water and they took Riva to do her newborn checks it became more apparent that her ear wasn’t just curled over, and we needed to wait for a doctor to come to see her. Fast forward 14 hours and Riva started to deteriorate with her breathing and needed urgent medical attention, then was transferred to NICU, and then transferred to Manchester children’s hospital where she spent 3 weeks and underwent life saving surgery. So what we thought was a little issue with her ear became a whole host of issues, and it meant that Riva was born with several additional needs.

While in NICU, Rivas little ear was forgotten about as it wasn’t a priority, so once she was discharged home we were referred to audiology. We then found out that Riva was in-fact profoundly deaf in her ‘bigger ear’ on the right side, and at 2 months old Riva was fitted with a BAHA on a soft band. The day she received the BAHA was a rollercoaster of emotions. Her being able to hear my voice for the first time was nothing but magical and definitely brought the room to tears, and then the same again when we got home to her Dad and brother. (They were unable to attend any appointments with me due to Covid and Riva was born in the middle of a lockdown).

So from 2 months old Riva has always worn her BAHA, she copes so well with it and is now at an age where she realises she needs it, as without it she can’t hear a thing. Riva has recently had an MRI scan which has shown she has no auditory nerve in the right side and then of course no ear canal on the left side. This again was a huge shock to us as a family, as we knew she’d have some hearing loss with having type 3 microtia and no ear canal, but we assumed her right ear would be perfectly fine and that isn’t the case.

Since having Riva it has massively mentally affected me as a Mum. At the beginning I would try to hide her microtia or not show any pictures of that side of her face, it took me a good couple of months to come to terms with the fact she is ‘different’ and still to this day I don’t think I have totally accepted it, as I can’t help but think about what her future will hold. But for now, Riva is doing amazingly well. She is so resilient, her determination is astounding and her sassy little attitude gets us through life, her little smile can brighten any room.

When Riva was about 1 year old I started up an Instagram page for her called ‘Riva the divas journey’ and this basically shares the ups and downs of her life and gives me a place to sound out my feelings and look for any advise. Through the Instagram page I have spoke to lots of Mums/Dads from all over the world, but I have also managed to recently find another microtia Mummy who lives local to us, which is just amazing and has helped me so much just knowing that we’re not the only ones, and I can bring Riva up showing her that she’s not the only one with a ‘lucky ear’.

Riva is due to start nursery in September and I feel this will be the beginning of a whole new journey for us, but I know she will absolutely smash it and show off just how amazing she is. We certainly have one loving, funny, sassy little diva and we wouldn’t change her for the world.

Abigail x

Written May 2022