In the beginning, Ollie’s hearing loss devastated me. I truly mean no harm towards any Deaf adults reading this. Please notice my key phrase: In the beginning…meaning that I no longer feel this way.
But in the beginning, I was really sad that Ollie would possibly never hear my voice. Our family loves music. My husband plays guitar. We both love to sing. So much of our world revolves around sound. So in the beginning, it was tough. I also felt kind of silly for all of the times I had talked to him when he was in my womb. He wasn’t actually hearing me…
However, with time my feelings began to change. We found a beautiful langauge (American Sign Language) and later he also received cochlear implants. He can now hear most everything when he uses them.
Through time spent with the deaf community (including some incredible Deaf adults!), we’ve come to appreciate many of the things that come with Ollie being deaf!
- He napped like a maniac– my only rule in the house when he was napping was that the kids couldn’t jump on the ground next to him. How awesome is that?! I’ve talked to many other parents with D/HH (Deaf and Hard of Hearing) children and they love this as well. D/HH children tend to sleep HARD.
- He forces eye contact and enthusiasm- You know when you give your hearing kids the “uh-huh…ya…ya…” response to something they’re excited about while looking at and thinking of something else?And then you feel bad about it later? D/HH kiddos never let you get away with this. Your response must be a full body acknowledgment, or at least a full facial acknowledgment! This keeps me emotionally in shape when it comes to being present with my kids. It’s tough- but I sincerely love it and am thankful for the challenge.
- He makes beautiful noise- Ollie’s noise feels so different than hearing childrens noises. (I will shamelessly admit that his noise has at times, felt like it was going to send me to the looney bin! Seriously people….I’m not exaggerating). But in a normal, positive time in life, I can hear his noise as genuine. He earnestly wants to make sounds that make sense. Verbally speaking is not a given. To hear him try his best to form words is a humbling, sweet experience. He is a warrior, continuing to fight for his voice to be heard.
- Sign Language- need I say more? ASL is the COOLEST thing since sliced bread. It’s a secret language that you can have with your people. It gets you out of big parties without having to be within ear-shot of your spouse. It’s full of expression. Not to mention that it is a real language. It connects people with the world. Without sound there can be an enormous disconnect. Because of ASL, there’s a bridge to take care of that disconnect!
- Most importantly ;), you can magnet things to his head!– Honestly, this one is very specific to cochlear implant users. But how awesome is it to put magnets or magnetic objects on your kids head?! I think it is SO FUN and silly. (see below)
Ollie’s hearing loss was entirely unexpected. And I will admit that at times, it really does come with challenges. Sometimes I don’t know a sign and it’s imperative that he understands me. At times I feel lazy and just want to talk out of my mouth.
But is there a silver lining? Absolutely!
Is his life rich and full? You betcha.
Is our life richer and fuller because of Ollie and his hearing loss? Without a doubt.