With a wide grin across her face, eight-month-old Savannah stretched out her arms and wrapped them tightly around her brand new doll.
As the baby let out a little giggle, it was clear to Perth mum Amy that her daughter had found her new favorite toy – and much more.
The seemingly regular doll had blonde hair and a crisp white bow on her head.
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But it also had another, special feature.
Sitting behind the doll’s right ear is a hearing aid – just like Savy’s.
A delighted Amy says the unique toy allows her little daughter to be unapologetically herself.
“Savy is so special and I didn’t want her to be worried about feeling different,” Amy tells 7Life.
“It is so important for her to feel included.”
With Savy’s first birthday next month, parents Dean and Amy can’t believe how far their daughter has come.
After a normal pregnancy, Savannah decided to arrive nearly two weeks early.
A week in special care nursery gave the newborn the all clear to finally go home to mum and dad.
However, Savy soon began showing signs of hearing loss.
“She failed the newborn hearing test twice when she was seven days old but the nurse told us it could just be fluid build up from birth and not to be worried,” Amy says.
“And if there was a really loud bang or we dropped something at home she would turn her head, so I wasn’t so worried.
“But when she was eight weeks they told us she had bad hearing loss in her right ear.”
The first-time mum didn’t know the extent of her daughter’s hearing loss and instantly began thinking the worse.
“I think I cried for the whole week after we found out,” she says.
“I just kept thinking, ‘Would she (Savannah) ever be able to hear my voice?’.”
Two weeks after the initial test, the family was referred to Hearing Australia for a formal diagnosis.
They were told Savy had 80 per cent loss in her right ear and a 10 per cent chance of losing hearing in her left.
Specialists also weren’t able to tell the parents if her hearing could deteriorate further.
She would also most likely need a hearing aid for the rest of her life.
At home, Amy began to process what this meant for her little girl and started joining online hearing loss communities for advice.
Connecting with other parents, the mum began to understand more about how to care for Savy’s unique needs.
Then when her little girl was three months old she was ready to be fitted with her hearing aid.
At the appointment, Amy bounced her daughter on her knee as the doctor wrapped the device around the baby’s right ear and turned it on.
At first, she wasn’t too sure about the foreign item attached to her head.
But at home, as Amy called her name across the room, Savy turned her head towards her mum.
“She never used to be able to tell where voices were coming from,” Amy says.
“And now when she plays with toys that make sounds she has a huge smile on her face.”
Savy is now beginning to match animal sounds with the animal, as she hears for the very first time.
“We will show her a banana and make an ‘mmm’ sounds and then a monkey and make a monkey sound,” the mum says.
Savy is still getting used to the device but Amy wants to make sure she grows up knowing that having a hearing aid doesn’t make her any less.
That’s when she came across Miniland Dolls Australia – a small Australian-owned business that creates custom dolls to look like their owner.
With a special doll having a hearing aid just like her’s, Savy fell in love with the toy – and the pair is inseparable.
“It’s really good to start seeing dolls that are so inclusive – like Barbie has brought out a range with a wheelchair,” Amy says.
“There are now actors in Hollywood promoting their disabilities too, which is great for Savannah to see.”
Amy is sharing Savy’s journey with her hearing aid on Instagram, connecting and supporting other’s with hearing loss and promoting inclusivity across all abilities.