The Shock Of Raising A Hearing Child

For a typical hearing person, the question whether they will raise a hearing or deaf child is not even on their mind.

Yet, for me, I wondered that growing up. I fantasized about raising a deaf child. Having a deaf family to call my own.

raising a hearing childI knew I would more likely have a hearing child due to my family genetics. I was born hearing. If I wanted a deaf child, I would have to be with a deaf guy with a multi-generational deaf family. Mr. Tropical is deaf and has a deaf family, however, his extended family is all hearing.

With our families’ history, our odds of having a deaf child is probably 50%.

When I was pregnant with Coral, it didn’t matter if she was born hearing or deaf. I wanted a screaming healthy baby. It was impressive how the moment she became earthside, I just knew…

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I knew she could hear. Mr. Tropical knew, too. We assured each other that we would be thrilled either way. She turned her head toward any type of noise. She jumped and wailed when an object crashed onto the floor.

They whisked her away to do a hearing test and Mr. Tropical went with her. He came back to my recovery room and signed that she had passed the hearing test. Her hearing was perfect. The nurse was ecstatic.

 

The term, ‘Passed’ stood out to me. It felt like she had won a prize and we should celebrate. For deaf children, they ‘failed’ the hearing test, so we should be miserable.

You would think that by now, they would have said something different such as simply state their hearing levels or say, “Your baby is hearing!” or “Your baby is deaf!”

mail for sticker lovers.
 

Back to the point.

The fact that we now had a hearing child was scary. I was nervous about what the future held for us. I was slightly, just slightly disappointed that my baby was hearing.

Who would be disappointed about a hearing baby? The irony.

When we finally felt adventurous enough to go out in public with a tiny newborn, we were worried about the fact that she would be wailing and feeling hot. She was born in June in hot and humid Florida. We went to Target to buy postpartum care items for me and to do some food shopping.

An elderly woman approached us to peek at our tiny newborn. She chatted about something. We pointed to our ears and shook our heads. She recognized that we were deaf, then she pointed to our newborn and moved her lips to say, “Can the baby hear?” I nodded my head and the relief came across her face. It was very apparent. She was delighted and clapped her hands. We didn’t know what to do except to smile. After that experience, I had mixed emotions.

 

Of course, I am happy that my child is hearing. She is a typical healthy child with no disabilities/issues. She will never really experience the struggles I went through. She will be able to attend any kind of school and be able to get any kind of job without a second thought. She will not feel like she needs to have a wall up constantly. She will be able to go on living her life without any barriers. She will not face oppression, discrimination, and audism.

 

So, why the heck would I fantasize about having a deaf child?

I knew I would be able to teach my deaf child how to face those challenges, how to survive the struggles, how to break down the barriers, and how to stand up for his/her self. I knew I would be able to handle the big responsibility of protecting my deaf child and provide resources to give him/her the best future possible. I would not be scrambling all over the place learning to sign, learning about the deaf community, and learning to love and accept my deaf child, because I was already there. I was ready and armed with resources, the deaf community/culture, and love and acceptance.

 

The slight disappointment went away in no time. It appeared and went without a second thought. I realized that it didn’t matter if I had a hearing or deaf child, her childhood will be exactly the same. Her lifestyle. Our home. How we raise her. All the same.

Coral is bilingual in American Sign Language and English. She is involved with both hearing and deaf worlds. She is an observant child, relying on her eyes along with her ears to communicate and learn. Since she was born, she enjoyed looking at me when I sign. She is a part of the vibrant and diverse deaf community that many people do not get to experience whilst being a part of the hearing world without any language barriers. Most often, the children of deaf parents treat all people the same regardless of disabilities, colors, sizes, etc.

It has been a blast watching Coral talk to her toys, dance to the music, search the sky for an airplane flying over, mimic the dogs’ barking, and copy my voice.

I am already learning new things from her. I learned what would wake Coral up from a deep sleep. I learned that she will alert me of the oven or the microwave beeping. I learned that some doors creak while others don’t. I learned that she will ignore me when I call her name but come running when I open a bag of pretzel sticks. I learned that she can hear the “Let It Go” song from the TV outside because she will run inside and start dancing.

I consider myself the lucky one to raise a hearing child.

 

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27 Discussion to this post

  1. candy says:

    Open my way of thinking about your emotions of people you have a hearing child. Like you won a prize.

  2. Rachel says:

    Beautiful story! I can imagine that it would be an interesting feeling to know that your child will have different experiences in life than you do, but the fact that she’s growing up bilingual and cross-cultural is so cool, and will benefit her for her whole life! My husband’s family speaks a different language from me and my family, it will be interesting when we have kids to teach them how to grow up with both of their familial languages and cultures.
    Rachel recently posted…When A Family Argument Turns Into a Civil WarMy Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thank you. I find bilingual/bicultural kids fascinating! It will definitely be interesting to learn from your kids while you teach them both cultures/languages.

  3. Amy says:

    What a wonderful post!! I see the point of it, and how the situation is something that most of us have never experienced or even thought of. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective and emotions!! *hugs*

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thank you and I am glad you find this post wonderful. All I can hope is that this will open many people’s minds and try to understand what it is like being in my shoes.

  4. eleni says:

    Your story is beautiful and touching. And your child can only gain so much more by being raised by awesome parents like you and your partner, learning to appreciate how we can and are all different from a young age.

  5. Tara says:

    This is a beautiful post. You are learning so much from your daughter and teaching her so much too. As with all children, her special experiences will shape the person she ultimately becomes. I love reading about your journey. You have a way with words that really expresses what you are experiencing – a life that many wouldn’t be able to imagine without reading your story.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Exactly! Thank you for the kind words. That’s one of the reasons I started this blog, to share my life (perspective) with others that might never give it a second thought ever.

  6. Shann Eva says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your beautiful daughter with us. I think it’s so wonderful that she is bilingual, and immersed in both cultures.

  7. Lourdes says:

    This is amazing! Loved reading it. Such an inspiration!

  8. Tawnie says:

    Loved reading your post! Becoming a mom we know we are going to be there to teach our children all that we know, but it is amazing what we learn from them along the way!
    You have always been a beautiful person! I remember looking up to you in school. You don’t know what it meant to me to become your friend as a child. I remember going to the mall with you, having sleep overs and long conversations on the phone! You have always been a sweet and caring person! Glad to see you have a beautiful family and life!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Exactly! We learn at the same time we teach. Thank you so much for the kind words. You were a special friend to me during that time and possibly the first friend I had after I changed schools. I am glad you and your family are doing great, too! <3

  9. AWESOME STORY! By the way, I am Deaf too. I have my son who is also Deaf and other son is hearing but he knows sign language. 🙂 Hopefully, we can meet somedays. Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Joyce from Live Laugh Love Post recently posted…My Special Dog JagMy Profile

  10. Ayelet says:

    Fascinating post. As a pediatric speech-language pathologist (and a mother to a young child), I found this honest account so intriguing. We overthink so many things before our children are born, or before they come to the next phase… and then when they arrive, it can be difficult to simply enjoy what we have or change our expectations. Until we do 🙂 Thanks for your lovely post.
    – Ayelet @ Strength In Words

  11. Tamara says:

    Reading your post I thought what you were going to say by the end: Coral is growing up getting to know both worlds and probably be considerate than the average kid.

    How awesome is it to learn ALS as a young child?

    Plus you’ll have plenty of opportunity to teach her how to stand up for herself in various situations that have nothing to do with being deaf or hearing.

    As for the medical people and the ones out there in public: they all have a label for “normal”: The more normal, the more comfortable they feel.
    Tamara recently posted…What’s the Purpose of School?My Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      I agree that it is awesome to learn ASL as a young child! What is normal nowadays? Seems like everyone is dealing with something either visible or invisible.

  12. gill says:

    Your daughter sounds a little star and this is a lovely post xx Experiencing life through her experiences as you suggest is something to be valued and treasured x

  13. Esther says:

    What an amazing story & post. Thank you for sharing. I honestly have never considered these things and how it affects your journey as a mom. Your daughter is so blessed to have you as a mother.
    Esther recently posted…Self Care for Moms of Intense Children: Why It Matters & How to Do ItMy Profile

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