VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Baby Charlotte, or Charly as she's affectionately known, goes from fussing to a smile to almost crying. She's able to hear her Mom's voice for the first time thanks to hearing aids. The moment was captured on video and has been viewed more than 12 million times on YouTube.
"I could see in her eyes and her face that she was really, really happy," said Christy Keane.
When Charly was born, she failed her first hearing test. Christy, who was formerly a NICU nurse, didn't think anything of it. She chalked it up to be fluid in the ears. But four days and more failed tests later, Christy and her husband learned Charly was born profoundly deaf.
"I cried, I didn't understand and I didn't know what life was going to look like," said Christy.
But that attitude quickly changed after doing some research. Christy made decisions for Charly's future.
"We're choosing to do cochlear implants for her and we're doing total communication, so we're learning to sign and she's going to hopefully develop beautiful spoken language as well with those resources," said Christy.
However, that decision was met with some criticism online since Christy openly shares Charly's journey on Instagram. But Christy knew in her heart she was making the right decision for Charly and encourages other parents to make the choice they feel is right despite what others might think.
"She is deaf, even with the cochlear implants. That doesn't cure deafness. As soon as she takes off the external device, she's deaf and always going to be. I just want to make sure she has all the resources to feel comfortable talking and communicating with people in any situation," said Christy.
There is much more positive side to sharing Charly's journey with others.
"It's special she's touching so many people. She's meant to be who she is just the way she is," Christy said with a smile.
Christy has become a hearing loss advocate and posts plenty of videos and photos of her two daughters to her Instagram account, where it's met with an overwhelming response.
"Other people reach out to me and say how she's changed their lives or made their day or they just found out their kiddo is going deaf or is deaf and seeing her journey has made them feel more positive about the experience and cope with it," said Christy, who embraces every message and loves being part of a deaf culture that's still new to her. "It feels like a huge responsibility, but I love it. And I hope any parent who finds themselves in that position comes to me."
Locally, Christy said she couldn't have gotten this far and be this positive without a great support system. The Virginia Hearing Aid Loan Bank donated Charly's current hearing aids and once Charly gets her cochlear implants, she'll give them back. CHKD has helped Christy set up speech therapy for Charly and that's where her implant surgery will be performed. All of this is inspiring Christy to be part of the community even more.
Christy will be hosting a storytime session for both deaf and hearing children at Hooray, a children's entertainment center in Virginia Beach May 2 at 10:00 a.m. She hopes parents will bring out their children, deaf or hearing, and see the two aren't very different at all.