Monday, March 16, 2009


I've started this before.

And I still don't know when, or if ever I'll hit the Publish button.

I knew that our family would be different - Itty Bit being a miracle baby put us firmly in that class; but I struggled with imagining what it would be like for this much-appreciated little boy to grow up with a deaf parent.

I used to laugh when people described their pregnancy dreams. Mine was simply to become pregnant. When I finally was and dreamt of him, I woke up with a "this-is-real" feeling that shook me to my core.

In my dream, a beautiful golden-headed boy was running around the living room, peeking behind furniture with a wide smile. When he saw me, he said, "Where's Daddy?"

It wasn't so much what he said... but that he signed it. Naturally and easily as he spoke it. And somehow in my surreal dream, it seemed effortless and normal.

I woke up looking for him.
Seeing my pajama-clad big belly brought me back to reality, but I couldn't shake the sleep-robbing questions that came.

The long years of wrestling with infertility had left me with plenty of time to contemplate why this was happening to me.
If I'm honest, I'll tell you that I foolishly believed that God had already maxed out the "unfairness" meter in my life by allowing my deafness.

Yes, I said it to His face.

Then spent years looking for answers, trying to fix myself, rationalizing, begging, bargaining, and giving up.

So after that dream, a lingering question returned.

What if it's not fair to him? What if my deafness is not fair to him?

A sign-language interpreter in my 5th grade class had deaf parents. She regaled us with stories of how she and her siblings would sneak out of the house during the night, intentionally mis-interpret phone calls from the school, and otherwise take advantage of their deafness with frequent shenanigans. It was sobering to think of what it could be like to raise a child without benefit of hearing.

Babies didn't phase me. I didn't need to hear (or apparently, SLEEP) to meet their needs and shower them with affection. I eagerly anticipated my own child's appearance and cherished every newborn thing about him.

But I knew that these days would loom. Ones where he began to realize that his Mommy was just a bit different. Ones where he would learn to tap her arm instead of calling her name. Where he would turn her head toward his when he wanted to be understood. Where he would say the same words, over and over again... patiently waiting for her to guess the right one.

And saddenly, when he would figure out that he should just crawl out of bed after his nap, instead of calling for her.

I was not prepared for the melancholy of seeing him point to my whistling ear and saying "hearing aid" clearly.

That was last night.

It hit with full force that he will grow up a bit differently. He won't be able to call his mom from the nurse's office in school. Maybe he'll be embarrassed by my faint "accent". And like me, maybe he'll ask his mom not to sign to him in public.

My real struggle is in wanting what's best for him, without turning him into a mini-adult. To tell me if an alarm is going off, without feeling like he has to interpret everything. To find that balance between being a little kid, and being someone's ears.

Like my parents and sister, I hope he grows up realizing that all of us are different - and no matter what people can or cannot do, they are still worth it.

So while it may not be fair to him, I hope he doesn't waste the lesson.
And I hope he knows that I've always loved him, even in my dreams.


Rissa said...

I have those thoughts too sometimes when we consider the possiblity of having a child.. even thou I can hear with the aid of the cochler. I know deep down it will be soo different because I am deaf...

I truly honestly belive that Tris will grow up knowing that he is deeply loved.. & know those differnces that he notices will help make him a wonderful person as he grows up..

Elyse said...

Thanks for the comment early this morning. I am so taking your advice and not wasting the lessson :) I have actually never heard that before, but it so fits! Have a great Tuesday!

Anonymous said...

Dear Rachel,
Itty Bit will learn the lesson because you and Mr. Daddy will care deeply about teaching him. He will see the way he grew up as his own "normal". What would have been UNfair to him would have been if destiny had placed him in an abusive, neglectful family instead of one where he was cherished even in his parent's dreams of him before he arrived. Itty is one lucky little boy, and he will become an astounding, compassionate man who knows how to love whoever destiny places in his path because he grew up with such unconditional love in his home. I just know that you and Mr. Daddy will not let him get by with being anything less. You are so articulate in your description of what life is like for you. Itty Bit will understand that better than anyone because you will be truthful with him just as you are here on your blog, and he will be living with the fact that you do not let your deafness define your strength and outlook on life. Therefore, don't look ahead with apprehension, but teach him what you want him to know and how you expect him to behave. He knows you love him. He'll love you back. His "normal" is not unfair or impossible.

Sarah said...

My dad is deaf, I can't remember if I told you or not. It's gotten worse as I've gotten older so if we're out he has to sit in a certain place or I have to order for him. It agravates me sometimes but not for long. I think it's like being in that teenager phase where you're mad at your parent one second and forget about it the next. I've always known my dad was deaf, I think, but it never really bothered me. Life isn't fair the only difference with having a deaf parent is you have something to directly point to as to why your parent is "defective," like most kids try to point out when not getting along with your parents is cool. Plus you get different lessons with a deaf parent, that happen to come in very handy in a lot of ways.

Stacy said...

There is no doubt that Tristan will know that he is loved. Some of life's lessons are hard, but that doesn't mean they aren't worthwhile to learn. I know that you and Mr. Daddy will raise him well and he will deal well with the different challenges and different normal that is your family. :)

He & Me + 3 said...


Now you have me tearing up. Each family has their own set of challanges & differences to live with. Itty Bitty is no different. He will know that he has a mother & father that love him very much & your lack of hearing may be a challange at times, but that will be his normal & he will adjust. You are a wonderful mother! what a precious and blessed famiy you have!

Jaime said...

That post made me feel all weepy. I think that, as moms, we all worry that our kids will resent us for whatever reasons. We're too strict ("everyone else gets to watch PG-13 movies!"), we're too healthy ("everyone else gets a coke in their lunch!"), we're too weird ("don't hug me in front of my friends, mom!") and so on and so on.

I can't totally understand your thoughts, since I'm not in the same boat, but I can empathize as a mom with my own insecurities and fears. Like you said, we can love them and pray that they love us in spite of our areas of being different.

And, what a blessing it would be if our kids could be proud to be in our families, different as they may be from the norm. That is my prayer and hope.

Thanks for a thought-provoking post. You're great. :-)

Brooke said...

Your write so well - thank-you for sharing such a deep post with all of us! You are his mothere, there is no doubt that he will know he is loved.

Anonymous said...

Rachel, this is one of the most touching posts I have ever read. You have reached me in a way I can't fully explain, except that I know you are a truly beautiful soul...

...and he knows the same...and will be just fine...and learn all of the truly important lessons of love...because you'll teach him.

Thank you for sharing your deepest fears, your heart, your love.


Elaine at Matters of the Heart) said...

This was such a beautiful story, thank you for sharing. You had me in tears, I could feel the emotion behind it. What a wonderful mother he is blessed with.

Carla (Choosing His Joy) said...

((((HUGS))) Rachel....I forgot that you are deaf, and reading this post brought tears to MY eyes (I just read your comment on my blog : ) ). I can totally identify with your feelings even though it is over other things. I pray that he will learn valuable life long lessons from these experiences, and that it will make him an extra compassionate and patient person, and that he will do great things with those character traits he developed because of it. Clearly he will know you love him, how can he not?! : )

Have a great rest of your week and thanks for all the comment love!

rickismom said...

All children grow up with SOME type of adversity, large or small. And I think that bigger adversity simply helps them appreciate more what they DO have. But if your child is LOVED, he will be not only fine, but great.

Mr. Daddy said...

would not trade five minutes of deafness for a lifetime of hearing if it change a single thing about WHO you are as a person. love you so much:o)

Anonymous said...

Rach, I had to share, hope it's ok.

Killlashandra said...

Wonderful post. :) I feel like you're on the right road and being able to acknowledge everyone is different and special is the best gift of understanding ever.

Anonymous said...

Your post made me CRY! Just the realness of it. I often worry the same thing about being overweight. :( I just have to hope it'll be alright. But I do worry about picking up from school, special events...I don't ever want to hear "THAT'S your Mom??". Kids are mean.

I just have to realize some things we can change, some things we just can't. And I'll just have to be OK with it.

You are a BEAUTIFUL lady with a wonderful heart and I think it will translate to your sweet son!

joker the lurcher said...

i have a great cartoon - "on the internet no-one realises you're a dog". and no-one would know you are deaf unless you told them. my son is autistic and my feeling is that the world is where the wrongness is, in its failure to understand him. your son will be proud and insightful from growing up around difference.

Shanda said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes. Reading Mr. Daddy's comment made them flow down my cheeks. If anything, your son will be blessed to have MORE than others because he will be taught to take pause, look at you when you are communicating, and he will place a higher value on communication in general. My grandmother was raised by TWO deaf parents and she was the most beautiful person that I have ever known who cared enough to SEE the good in each individual person. In so many ways, it is a gift from God directly to your son...

I think, to some extent, every child goes through a phase of being "embarrassed" by their parents. All of us will feel that hurt in one way or another. Let's agree to remind each other about that when we are in the midst.

Thank you for hitting "publish."

Paige said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I actually read it a few days ago and have thought of you and your family ever since. You have a beautiful little boy who is truly blessed to have you as a mother.

Pam D said...

Rachel, I read this as soon as you posted and didn't have a chance then to reply. I'm STILL on a hamster wheel around here and feel like I want to take more time to respond, but I also want you to know that I read it, and it touched me deeply. So many things to say, and I will.. but for now, just know that I see Tristan as one of the luckiest little boys in the whole wide world (and Mister Daddy's comment pretty much confirmed that!). And I do believe, too, that there will be a day when Tristan tells you that very same thing in his very own words, as he looks back at all of the blessings of having you in his life. Truly.

Fingers To Toes Photography said...


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