Sarah Jo Lawless wanted her husband to see their baby girl, Annabelle, hearing sounds for the first time. So she took a video and posted it online.
Not long after, the video of 3-month-old Annabelle hearing her mother’s voice this month gained steam on YouTube. Thousands of people viewed it. Media companies started contacting Lawless, eager to manage the video.
“I had no idea” so many people would watch it, Lawless said Tuesday.
Her dad wasn’t there, so I wanted him to be able to see it — her first reaction — plus I wanted her to be able to see it.
Sarah Jo Lawless
Baby Annabelle was born April 21 with profound hearing loss. She is the couple’s only child. The baby’s audiologist, Karrie Pargman, doesn’t know what caused the inability to hear.
“She was born very, very tiny, so she was in the NICU [neonatal intensive-care unit] for a little bit,” Lawless told the Statesman. “She was tested there, and she didn’t pass her [hearing] test.”
Annabelle became a patient at St. Luke’s Idaho Elks Hearing and Balance Center in Boise. She went through more testing and finally was fitted for a hearing aid.
In about six months, Annabelle will be the first baby her age in Idaho to get cochlear implants.
Lawless said the video has reached across the globe, with her media manager fielding inquiries from the U.K., Australia and New Zealand.
“Right now, we’re dealing with the hassle of hearing aids, but it’s so worth it,” Lawless said.
Annabelle is a “very happy baby anyway” — but since gaining the ability to hear, she seems even happier, Lawless said.
“I’m embarrassed to say I’ve put her in front of the television, and she loves it,” she said. “She’ll sit in her swing and watch it and just laugh.”
Adjusting to the new rush of auditory stimuli has left Annabelle a little bit tuckered out, she said. The baby is taking longer naps these days.
And how did Annabelle’s father respond when he learned the hearing aid worked, and his daughter could hear?
“He just started crying,” Lawless said. “He came home and spent the evening talking to her, and she fell asleep on his chest while he was talking.”