One of the elements in my patchwork full-time job is working part-time as a newborn hearing screener. A good friend recommended me for this job and, through the power of networking and her awesomeness and my ability not to completely suck at interviewing, I got it! I’ll be working 3-5 days a week, mornings, hours depending on how many babies there are.
While I’m still at the old position for the rest of the week, I got to spend this morning shadowing a hearing screener at the hospital. It was completely adorable and completely exhausting.
Most of the time, we have have the pleasure of giving good news. We can tell parents “Congrats, your child’s hearing is perfect.” Then we give them a pamphlet which details the stages they’ll go through.
When a baby doesn’t pass in both ears, then we still have good news. Most of the time this is just caused by “birth debris” in the ear canal. It comes out kind of like wax. We were able to show one mom the “debris” on her son’s ear probe, which I think was reassuring.
We explained that the other side was perfect and that we’d test him again tomorrow when hopefully enough debris will have come out. Even if he’d been discharged, he’d have just needed to come back in 2 weeks for a free follow-up at our audiology clinic. More than 3/4 of babies pass this follow-up.
The well babies only took about an hour. But trying to screen babies in the NICU (and apparently there were more than twice as many as normally needed screening!!) was a lot harder. It’s so loud in there with all the babies and monitors that getting a good response is difficult. Plus one piece of equipment was broken.
So the screener I was shadowing was trying to do the best she could under less-than-ideal circumstances. It took 2.5 hours for the same number of well babies we did in around 1. Apparently NICU always takes longer anyway but not normally this much longer. Couple babies almost passed but not quite. But we’ll retest them on Wednesday unless they go home on Tuesday.
After watching her work the equipment for 3.5 hours, I’ve got a pretty good grasp on how it works. Wednesday, I get to run the computer part and do the charts, but she’ll still be handling the babies. Newborns are so beautiful. They’re so very very new! And seeing them in their mommies’ and daddies’ arms is just….well in the early morning light it’s a wonderful thing. They have so much potential.
And the biggest lesson I learned at work today: Those of us who are prone to bad blood sugar drops must not forget their snacks.
I nearly fainted in the NICU. It was very embarrassing. I sat down, put my head on my lap, and waited until I felt better. I stayed shaky until I got my snack and sandwich after we finished, but I was steady enough on my feet to keep going. Now we plan to pack the snack in the cart. I’ll eat it between well babies and NICU.
That could have been awkward.