During childbirth, I suddenly couldn’t hear any longer | Washington Post

When I was rolled into the operating room for my third Caesarean section, I could hear the relaxing sounds of classical music. Everyone was welcoming and feeling especially happy. A few minutes later, our third daughter was born and whisked away to be checked for a few routine complications.

A nurse took my vitals and pressed on my stomach. There was a deep pain, followed by a terrifying discovery: I couldn’t hear anything. Not the nurse, who was asking me questions, not my husband, not the beeping medical monitors. Nothing.

The anesthesiologist quickly reviewed my condition and said don’t worry, my hearing would return to normal once the head congestion, common in pregnancy, dissipated. But it never did.

Doctors aren’t sure why people can lose hearing during pregnancy or childbirth. Hormonal changes or high blood pressure can cause hearing issues, such as clogged ears or a background buzzing. But actual hearing loss in pregnancy is rare and losing hearing during childbirth, as I had, is so unusual that Frank Lin, otolaryngology professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of its Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health, said he has never encountered it before.

My head congestion dissipated by the next day, but everything still sounded muted and definitely not back to normal. And as the months ticked by, things didn’t get better. There was a loud humming in my ears; I couldn’t hear my children clearly if we were all riding in the same car and they were seated in the back seat; I couldn’t hear a cashier in a grocery store telling me that their checkout line was open; I couldn’t hear a colleague call my name when approaching my desk at work; and I was constantly asking folks to repeat themselves during face-to-face conversations.

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Edda Collins Coleman with her husband, Bernard, and their daughters Peyton, Bailey and Quinn. (Bernard Coleman III)