Coping with a deaf diagnosis

7 Oct

The rug has been pulled from beneath my feet, my world has turned upside down, I‘ve been knocked for six…Suddenly every cliché in the book begins to make sense.

Last week my biggest anxiety was not fitting into a specific parental group, now I do – but it is not one which I ever envisaged I would be joining.  My outwardly perfect 10-week-old baby boy has been diagnosed with a severe hearing problem.  He will be fitted with hearing aids in the next few weeks and have to wear them for the rest of his life.

When the audiologist told me he was deaf, I sat in stunned disbelief. I’d gone to the appointment convinced the reason he hadn’t passed the previous test was because he had a cold, not for one minute anticipating a diagnosis there and then. Emerging from the hospital trying to comprehend the enormity of what I had been told, I sat on the bus clutching my baby to my chest, tears dripping down my cheeks and read the leaflet ‘Your Baby Has a Hearing Loss’ which gave the number of a charity to call for further information.  On calling them I suddenly realised that I had been transformed from being the person who donates or raises money for charity to being a recipient.

My husband rushed home.  Not, as I initially thought, to support me but because he was in profound shock too.  As the days have gone by, unable to eat or sleep, I have tried to come to terms with it by talking to friends, professionals and people in similar situations but his grief is visible and hard to bear.  The dreams he might have had for his first son have been shattered and as we pick up the pieces, I have been trying to reassure him.

We’re so lucky that our 6-year-old has a deaf boy in her class.  He is a gorgeous, popular, bright little boy who she invited to her birthday party.  To have a role model for us all to look to is fantastic and I immediately sought out his mother who has helped to fill in the huge gaps about what life is like for the hearing impaired.  The fact that the school has children with hearing problems reassures me that my son will be able to enter mainstream education and our wonderful child-minder – whom I first feared might not even be able to look after a baby officially labelled as handicapped – has reassured me that not only can she still look after him but that she has already looked into sign language classes and will learn it so that she can communicate with him even when he‘s not wearing his hearing aids.

My initial reaction was to stop going out, give up work, wrap him in cotton wool and devote my life to caring for my baby but I’ve begun to realise that for him to stand any chance of a normal life, I need to treat him as normally as possible.  He’s so lucky to have two big sisters who now see him as even more special and we’re fortunate to have wonderful friends and family, all of whom have been immensely supportive.  This week started with the tragic clichés but ends with the positive ones. It’s at times like this you know who your friends are, there is always someone worse off than you and things can only get better.  We’ll all get through this.

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10 Responses to “Coping with a deaf diagnosis”

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  1. …and the new blog emerged from it’s shell and waddled down to the sea. « Sleepless in silence in suburbia - March 24, 2012

    […] procrastinating. But the main reason was because the editors, having asked me to concentrate on the ‘deaf issue’ felt my blog was no longer sassy and funny. They were quite right, but it’s difficult to laugh […]

  2. You’ve got to have faith « Sleepless in silence in suburbia - March 24, 2012

    […] as the minister carried our baby around the church.  The only moment I faltered was when he held our deaf baby boy and said, ‘May you Hear the voice of God ringing clear for you every day’. Tears welled in […]

  3. Empire State of Mind « Sleepless in silence in suburbia - June 15, 2012

    […] on the train back to England then had to dash to an emergency appointment at the doctors with my deaf baby. As expected he has an ear infection but I wasn’t anticipating that we would be told to keep […]

  4. One Year On – We really ARE copying with the deaf diagnosis. Yay! « Sleepless in silence in suburbia - September 25, 2012

    […] a year this week since our baby boy was diagnosed as severely deaf. At the time we couldn’t eat or sleep. We couldn’t even drink which shows how badly it affected […]

  5. Losing our baby. Nine years on… « Sleepless in silence in suburbia - December 3, 2012

    […] might upset me and remembers the date.  I can’t imagine leaning on our little boy so much.  Not just because he’s deaf but because in spite of his vast size (99th centile to her 25th centile) he still seems very much […]

  6. From severely deaf to profound in two tests « Sleepless in silence in suburbia - January 26, 2013

    […] and he looked genuinely happy to see our Teacher of the Deaf, the Educational Audiologist and the Audiologist who were going to conduct the […]

  7. Controlled crying. For or against? « Sleepless in silence in suburbia - February 8, 2013

    […] I started this blog, long before my father’s car crash or our baby’s deaf diagnosis, the biggest drama in my life was sleep deprivation. Even post crash and deaf diagnosis, sleep […]

  8. From Publisher to TV Presenter | Sleepless in silence in suburbia - March 15, 2013

    […] bereavement that I appreciated the shock and sadness that death brings. It was only when my son was diagnosed as deaf that I appreciated how many other things there are to consider when you have a child with a […]

  9. ‘Don’t leave us!’ – Continuity of Care | Sleepless in silence in suburbia - September 20, 2013

    […] the 2 year old was first diagnosed as being deaf we were assigned a Teacher of the Deaf and a Speech Therapist. The Speech Therapist […]

  10. Sleepless in silence in suburbia - October 4, 2013

    […] have always been slightly amused by the extension / microphone combination.  When our baby was first diagnosed as being deaf I asked our then 6 year old about the deaf child in her class.  She was completely […]

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