As anyone who is a parent, having children is the supreme gift of life, or god (if you are religious). When I was younger, I always imagined myself as a mother. I wanted three kids. I always pictured myself loving them, spending time with them, and always being there for them. Not once did I consider my deafness as something to think about, as something I might have to contend with. As a teenager, I still did not fully comprehend some of the issues I might face. I suppose I was confident in my abilities to parent. I never considered all the communication issues that might arise, or what is related to the care of babies. I just simply saw myself as a mother.
When I did start having children, I started to worry about things like hearing the baby at night or knowing why they were crying, and how I would communicate with them as they got older? Their father (my first two) was totally deaf so naturally it all fell on my shoulders. We had an alert master system that flashed lights for various things, the alarm clock, smoke detector, doorbell, and even as a baby monitor. I used this system, and it worked fairly well. I also from time to sleep slept with my hearing aids on which is not the easiest thing to do when you are used to hearing nothing at night. As each of them got older, we used sign language to assist in communication, and their speech development. We also used a closed captioning device so that we’d know what was being said on the shows they watched. For the most part, it was not difficult to understand my children’s needs and communication attempts. We found as they got older and understood we could not hear the same way, they were willing to learn to do what was needed to communicate, especially at night time.
The difficulties came when I split from their father and we had to use the phone to talk. My children were so young so it was painfully hard for them when I couldn’t understand them. Now, however, we use FaceTime, email, text messages to communicate. Technology is such a great help to us.
My baby… his father is hearing, so it helps a lot at night time. Plus he could differentiate his cries, and let me know if it was a hunger cry, or change my diaper cry and so forth. We have a video monitor which is such a terrific help to us both. We love being able to check on him and even be able to tell if he is truly crying before we go up the stairs. I know that he will have to help me interpret my youngest’s speech attempts, particularly after I have this surgery. It will be interesting to see how this surgery will affect things over the next few months.
I am grateful my children are hearing. Not that we could not have dealt with it had they been deaf. It is just simply that neither their father(s) or I wanted them to struggle through life as we did. It is hard enough they have to deal with having parents who are deaf and having to work to communicate with us. I hope one day they will know how lucky they are.