The Shock Of Raising A Hearing Child
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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.
I 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…
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!”
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.
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.