Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Thoughts on Parenting with Hearing Loss

As of this week, I have been a parent for six weeks. I'm still at home (I go back to work in two weeks), and it's been a very interesting, eye-opening experience to be taking care of a tiny little defenseless human being. I have to say it has been amazing but not without its challenges, some of which I know are related to my hearing loss.
That's my boy.

One challenge I have had is ensuring I can hear if the baby needs me from anywhere in the house. For the most part he stays in my visual range - he is either in my arms or in his swing or rocker beside me. But for when he's not, I have two options.

My dad found this great baby monitor, the Graco Direct Connect Digital Baby Monitor, which has a great speaker, and also vibrates and displays a light when triggered by sounds. It can clip onto my clothes, so I can feel the vibration even if I miss the crying sounds through the speaker.

My husband's coworkers also gifted us with a video monitor, actually a webcam, the Foscam FI8918W Wireless/Wired Pan & Tilt IP/Network Camera. I'd definitely recommend either, or both, to anybody who is worried about not being able to hear their baby. Or their puppy, or anything else they are taking care of that cries, really.

The other challenge has been figuring out what to do at night. I am often reminded of Myron Ulberg's recollections in his book Hands of My Father. Ulberg is a child of Deaf adults. He says that when he was small enough to be in a cradle, his parents tied a string to themselves and to the cradle (or was it him?) so they would feel his movements.

My husband is hearing, so I don't have to go quite that far, but I do worry when I take my hearing aids out at night. Most of the time, I take my right hearing aid out, and keep my left one in. It's already resulted in one trip to my audiologist to get it dried out after it started acting up. I know moisture is very bad for hearing aids, but I always feel more comfortable when I can actually hear the baby. Being able to hear at night, though, has made me less able to fall asleep quickly or stay asleep (not that I really can anyway, with a six-week-old baby). I'm so used to total quiet at night that any little sound keeps me awake, although I am getting better.

So far, though, so good. I'm adapting and we are doing well. I'm sure I will come across other surprises as we go along. I've already gained more of a perspective on myself, my hearing loss, how it will affect my little family in the future, and what my parents must have thought and dealt with when I was diagnosed with my loss. Especially how my mom must have felt trying to get my hearing loss diagnosed and knowing something was wrong. Even though Tripp does not have a hearing loss, I can now understand that sense of protectiveness and that mother's instinct.