Tag Archives: baby classes in Edinburgh

It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life.

21 Jan

Deaf baby swimmingAlthough outwardly positive, anxiety is often my default setting. I’m that duck who appears to glide over the lake of life while frantically paddling underneath. However I was truly inspired by a friend’s astonishingly positive Facebook post, at a time when she could have been wallowing in self pity, and am determined to stop worrying about things which might happen and enter 2014 feeling good.

Her father had just died, a feeling I know only too well, but instead of starting the new year thinking about what an annus horribilis she had had, she used her Facebook post to reflect on all the great things that had happened in 2013.

Careering towards the end of my career was crushing but out of it has come a whole new world of opportunities and such good wishes and support from some wonderful friends within the publishing industry that I wouldn’t turn the clock back if I could. Brownlee Donald Associates launched on 3 January and I’m loving every minute of it.

The children also continue to delight. For every stroppy teenage moment the 11 year old has (there are a lot. She spent much of Christmas in New York on Facetime to friends in Edinburgh) there is another moment when I burst with maternal pride, when she wins a swimming gala or just puts her iPad down for once and wants to hang out.

The 8 year old astonished me at Christmas by being selected to sing a solo as the Angel Gabriel in the nativity. I went along with trepidation, but her voice (largely in tune) soared up to the balcony where all the parents were sitting and I could have wept. She overcame fear and bullying from some children who teased her for doing it and made me so so proud.

The deaf 2 year old will never be bullied. I find it hard to believe that we perceived him as a victim when he was first diagnosed. He is so happy – and so strong – that no one would dare mess with him. That said my heart broke a little when I took him to his first swimming lesson last week and realised that it revolved around singing songs which he couldn’t hear without his hearing aids in.

I didn’t tell the other parents he was deaf and they no doubt pre judged him as he ignored the teacher and splashed round the pool. When the other 2 year olds sat nervously on the side of the pool during ‘Humpty Dumpty’ ready to ‘all fall down’ into their mother’s arms, mine just looked perplexed. Until he got the gist of what was going on. Then he scrambled out on his own using the bar for leverage like a small monkey and letting out a great roar took a running jump and leapt into the pool. The teacher looked horrified but he emerged, elated, water dripping from his long eyelashes and we both burst out laughing.

When we first got the deaf diagnosis we couldn’t see beyond immense sadness but in fact thanks to him there is always laughter in the house.  It is he who keeps a smile on our faces.

So as I enter a new dawn, a new life, a new day. Life is good.


National Deaf Awareness Week? How did I not hear about that?

8 May

Slightly appalled to realise today that it’s National Deaf Awareness Week.  As a new member of the deaf community I’m not surprised it’s not a date which I’ve registered before. It’s taken me years to remember World Book Day and I’ve been working in publishing since before World Book Day was launched. What surprises me is that I’m so immersed in all things deaf that I can’t believe no one else has mentioned it to me.

In the last four weeks I’ve seen our Teacher of the Deaf, our Speech Therapist, visited hospital to pick up temporary hearing aids (our 9 month old baby had chewed his other ones), visited hospital to get new hearing moulds, visited hospital to get more temporary hearing aids (he chewed the replacement ones!) and spent the last two Saturdays at sign language classes organised by the National Deaf Childrens Society but no one has mentioned it at all.

There is always the possibility that we were informed about it at the Sign Language Classes and I simply didn’t understand. But I don’t think so. The chat after only two weeks is limited: ‘My name is..what’s your name?’, ‘I’m fine, how are you’ and to my utter horror sharing with the entire class how old we are. In spite of that mild horror I’m really enjoying the Sign Language Classes. Unlike the weekend for newly diagnosed deaf parents which we was populated by parents of deaf babies who were as shocked and upset as we were, the Sign Language Classes are attended by parents of 5-16 year olds who have had time to come to terms with their diagnosis. It’s such a relief to see that their children are just normal children. Shy little girls, sullen teenagers, exhibitionists, the same sort of kids you’d get in a cross section of children who weren’t deaf.  They’re probably more bemused by me. I go along with my six year old who hasn’t got a hearing problem at all and our amazing childminder who gives up her Saturday mornings and time with her own family to learn sign language to communicate with mine.

It’s strangely liberating being in a class for two hours where no one speaks at all. The charming teacher told us by writing on the board that Sign Language is his first language and and since then has communicated only by tapping out the alphabet on his fingers and using gestures. In any group situation I’m normally the class clown but deprived of the ability to speak I’m sitting back and soaking up the experience. I’m also loving the opportunity to bond with my six year old child every Saturday morning.

When our baby was diagnosed I worried about the effect it would have on the family, particularly that as the middle child our six year old would suffer. I would never have thought that our baby being deaf would bring us closer together. But it has.

I would still give anything for the deaf diagnosis to be a terrible mistake. I still cry whenever I think what it might mean for my baby. But on a day to day level life is not that bad. He doesn’t know any different and with the support of the various charities and our amazing friends and family we can see a bright future. Who would ever have thought that Sign Language Classes would be one of the highlights of my social calendar?!

The VIP mother and baby group

2 Dec

I hadn’t intended to attend any mother and baby groups this time round.  I breezily announced that the third child was going to be dragged along in the slip stream of the two other children.  So when our new baby was diagnosed as being deaf, I was wracked with guilt.  I felt terrible that he had been sitting in his silent world in the corner of the room, unaware that I was chatting to him as I got on with jobs around the house.  I therefore made it my mission to spend the remainder of my maternity leave stimulating him as much as possible.  As soon as he got his hearing aids, I signed up for Daisy’s Music Time, Baby Sensory Classes and a local mother and toddler group.

It is difficult going into a new environment where other mothers must notice his hearing aids immediately but pointedly don’t mention them.  I’m also aware that he’s a very big baby, weighing at 4 months what most babies weigh at 6.  I’m sure that on seeing that he’s deaf they assume a greater problem when he looks as though he’s big enough to roll over, clap hands and sit up and is instead lying floppily in my arms sucking a dummy.  I’m tempted to get a T shirt printed for him saying ‘I’m just a normal baby who happens to be deaf’.

I must have been a terrible pupil at school.  In all the classes, I find myself being the joker.  Camouflaging my anxiety with quips about the buzzing of his hearing aids sounding like the tardis, or getting the sign language so wrong at baby sensory that I’m probably swearing at him. The classes are lovely but it is difficult to take some of the activities seriously.  At one class, we were asked to pass a textured snake around the circle, I thought they were suggesting we pass our babies around like some complicated Scottish reel.  Another time we had to hold our babies over some balls and get them to kick them around reminiscent of some life-size game of table football.

Friends are amused that after years blagging my way onto guest lists at parties and music festivals I’ve now managed to blag my way into our local mother and toddler group. Run by lovely ladies who provide coffee and home baking each week, it is one of the hottest tickets in town. People allegedly put their names down at the moment of conception. I didn’t put mine down at all but our child minder put my baby down when he was first born and a friend put my name down when she was registering her own son.  Neither of them have yet made it to the top of the list but on seeing my name, one of the lovely ladies visited me at home offering to fast track us to the top of the list as she thought it would stimulate him. Who would have thought that being deaf would have its advantages?!

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