Lessons in Listening

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I have learned a lot from all of my children – about who I am, what matters, how right my own mother was!  What it means to listen, to really listen, as a mom and as a therapist, was shown to me through my journey with my youngest child.  In today’s blog, I’d like to start at the beginning of that journey.

When I was pregnant with my third daughter, I thought I knew all that I needed to know to take good care of her and enjoy doing it.  I had two children who were healthy and happy and well-adjusted and I hadn’t broken them or steered them wrong.  I was going to relax with this new baby.  I was going to revel in her small-ness and snuggle her all day and not worry as much about schedules and routines and all the concerns of new moms.  I knew how to do this.  I really had given it that much thought!  So when just days after my sweet girl was born I learned that she was deaf, I was more than a little thrown.  I did not know how to do this.

*More than 95% of deaf and hard of hearing babies are born to hearing parents.*

For five days I thought everything was fine.  I fed her and held her and shared her with her sisters.  I was a tired but happy and confident mom.  Minutes after learning she was deaf, I questioned everything.  How could it be that she hadn’t heard me sing to her, talk to her, let her know I was there?  Was she scared?  Was she ok?  How would I tell her stories and talk to her about boys? I had so much to learn and it did not feel like I would ever have the energy it would take to figure it all out.

*My daughter was the first deaf person I ever knew.*

I remember those days early in her life.  I felt lost when I thought too much, but she was happy and healthy and she responded to me.  She liked to be close.  She liked to eat!  She liked to sway and dance.  I remember feeling silly singing to her because she couldn’t hear me.   I touched my lips to her forehead as I sang and hummed anyway.  I touched my face to her cheek when I told her I loved her.  She couldn’t hear me, but I could listen to her, for her.  I could pay attention in a new way.

If you are the parent of a new baby who is deaf or hard of hearing and want information on resources for you or your child, connect with the MA Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program.

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