Okay, so it seems my posts lately have been whining terrible messes. So I'm promising that at least the next two posts will be positive.
The first positive: ear tubes.
I was really really nervous about getting tubes for Bean's ears. We almost didn't do it. But Bean had something on the order of 8 ear infections in 5 months. It was terrible. Every ear infection was accompanied by a high fever, pain, and discomfort (for everyone involved). To top it all off, Bean never was able to clear the fluid from her ears, so her hearing was diminished. But surgery on an infant is not something to be taken lightly.
Ultimately, we decided to get the tubes because after 6 weeks of preventative antibiotics, the fluid still wasn't draining from Bean's ears. And obviously long term antibiotic use is something we wanted to avoid. In addition, we realized that some hearing and speech problems that Husband experienced as a child might have been due to a similar problem, and we wanted to avoid that for the Bean. And finally, there didn't seem to be any downside to getting the surgery... complications are extremely rare (in contrast, we were facing some very real negatives by not getting the surgery: hearing impairment and discomfort). So we decided to go ahead with the surgery.
The surgery day itself was a terrible ordeal because Bean ended up spiking a really high fever. But in retrospect, that seems to be par for the course for Bean. Any little thing (teeth, a virus, ear infections, etc) and Bean spikes a fever. So I don't think it was a complication per se, but rather just the way little Bean responded to the stress of the surgery. Which of course is no small thing, but it was a small price to pay for the results we've had.
Ultimately, it seems to have been the right decision. Though Bean experienced one ear infection immediately following the surgery (the surgeon actually predicted this because her ears were full of viscous fluid), she has since been ear infection free. It's only been 7 weeks, but still, that's a HUGE improvement. In addition, we saw an immediate qualitative change in Bean's response to sound and to her own vocalizations as well.
I couldn't be happier. It's been a big quality of life improvement for the Bean, and we're so relieved that her hearing seems to be improved as well. If you're a parent considering tubes, do your research so that you feel comfortable with your decision, but I have to say that getting tubes was the right decision for the Bean.
And thank god for that.