Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I Saw You in the Audiology Waiting Area

To The Parents Waiting for Their Follow-up Newborn Hearing Test,

I see you sometimes, in the audiology waiting room. I'm usually popping in for a MAPing, or occasionally some aural rehab, or a research study. I know your brand new baby failed their newborn hearing screen. I know you're here for the follow up test. I know this because I can see your hopes and dreams spilling out of the car seat, smashing on the cold, sterile floor. I know.

I see you notice with extra interest the devices that my daughters wear. I see you wondering to yourself if this is your future. I see the fear and uncertainty and the tiredness etched in your face. I know.

I want you to know something, too. I smile at you in the waiting room, so that you'll know that we are happy. I talk to my daughters, so you can hear their lovely, little voices and see that they hear and understand mine. I casually replace a disconnected magnet so that you'll see that even hearing loss can become second nature in the same way that it soon became second nature to wrap your firstborn in a blanket and rock them to sleep.

I don't want to gush to you about cochlear implants, because maybe your baby won't need them, or maybe you won't want them. But I want you to know that my oldest child went to ballet class, like I dreamed for her. She took guitar lessons, like she dreamed for herself. I don't want to make you feel like you shouldn't be sad or scared because it can be a sad and scary thing to discover yourself suddenly living a life very different than you expected. But I want you to know that you will meet so many incredible people in this new life. You could even begin to learn a new and beautiful language if you chose.

You have a lot of work ahead. It's true. Big decisions (cochlear implant?) and little (sparkly ear molds for the hearing aids?) await you. There will be a lot of therapy and doctor visits and late night Googling. There will. There will be angst over schooling choices and fears of fitting in. There will be a little ache every time you hear beautiful music because a tiny part of you will still wonder how it sounds to your children's bionic ears.

But there will also be triumphs made sweeter because you'll have been there every grinding step of the way. There will be opportunities to grow in compassion and strength. There will be the marvel of hearing each sound as though for the first time when your child is learning to listen.

A few weekends ago I took Gianna to see a production The Miracle Worker, William Gibson's play based on Helen Keller's memoir. In one of the opening scenes, Helen's mother begins wailing inconsolably when she discovers that Helen can no longer hear or see her. Her eyes wide with alarm, Gianna turned to me and asked "What's wrong? Why is she screaming like that?" I responded that the mommy had just realized that Helen was now deaf and before I could finish my sentence she interjected,
"Well...that's not that bad!"

So, little family in the audiology waiting room. This is what I want you to know. It's not that bad. All those hopes and dreams falling out of your infant seat....they're not as fragile as they seem.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Same as Mama


Pia started school in August at Ohio Valley Voices, the same school Gianna attended from age 3 to age 6. I've written previously of my work cultivating the image of being the laid back parent, and I am continuing this work as you shall see.

If you've had the fortune of birthing a child, you know that for a little while after the blessed event occurs, toilet paper can be a little....abrasive. Luckily, God invented the peri-bottle and your hospital will gift you one for just this need. It is the same with home birth; the box of sterile supplies you order for your midwife to use always includes the peri-bottle and if you're like me, you save it.

You put it in the large bin that contains your birthing things and send it to be stored at the neutral ground of your mother's house because your sister, with whom you share the birth items collection, doesn't need the birth bin just yet, and you hopefully won't need it for awhile because you just did that and are taking a little break. We all know that stating "Oh, I don't need this maternity shirt/baby swing/birth kit right now" is a good way to make sure you get a positive home pregnancy test, thus the importance of a neutral storage ground. Anyways, eventually your birth bin contains quite the collection of peri-bottles.

After Dominic was born, I saw the dearth of peri-bottles and conveniently placed one in each bathroom so that I would never be without. Gianna was about two and half years old at the time and still very much in the habit of joining me in the potty. She had set up her little potty right across from the big one so that we might have the joy of using the facilities face to face. The first time she saw me use the peri bottle, her eyes lit up and she sprinted from the bathroom, returning with the other peri-bottle. She handed it to me and signed, NEED WATER.

Like a good, laid-back, mom, I filled it up and handed it to her. I watched as she settled on to her little potty, peed, and then used her peri-bottle to clean up. She looked up at me with a grin and signed, "SAME! SAME AS MAMA!"

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when Pia, the current two year old, observed the usage of a panty liner one evening. She insisted that I put one in her nighttime pull-up, so like the laid-back mom I strive to be, I did. She was so happy. Triumphant, even.

"Same! Same as mama!" She announced. I put her to bed and when she woke up the next morning her pull-up was still dry, so after I took her potty I put it back on her and rushed out the door because we were on the verge of being late to school and I am lazy and plus, reduce reuse recycle.

It wasn't until I was taking her potty during drop-off that I remembered the panty liner, still stuck to her pull-up. I sat on the floor of her school bathroom and looked at it, considering my options. I could try to rip it out but I'd risk tearing the pull-up and needing a full wardrobe change or worse, she'd see me remove it and put up a fight. Or I could just leave it there. So that's what I did. I left the panty liner stuck in her pull up and I didn't even alert the school staff to its presence. I wonder what they thought. Probably they thought about how we are their favorite family. Let's go with that.