Hi! I’m Emma, and nearly a year ago, my beautiful daughter came into our world as we became parents for the first time. My wonderful little family and I live in Reading, Berkshire. I am profoundly deaf, and so are my parents. My partner of nearly 10 years is hearing. We didn’t know what to expect when ‘expecting’; whether our little bub would be deaf or hearing- not that it mattered. However, as soon as she was born, her hearing was tested, and she could hear perfectly. This is the short-ish story of my experience of being a deaf mummy.
Being a first-time mummy is quite daunting, but being a first-time ‘deaf’ mummy is a whole different experience. So where do I begin?? I guess I begin at the very start………My preparation for my bundle of joy went above and beyond; as I thought about baby alarms, me being at the hospital and even worse- me having to stay overnight at the hospital?
What would I do if I had to stay at the hospital and my baby cried in the still of the night? How would I know? Should I sleep with my hearing aids in? – It would be very uncomfortable, and they may whistle, or they wouldn’t be much help.
Should I sleep with my baby in the same bed, and then I might be able to feel her cry? But I might squish her? And I’m sure the hospital would frown upon that.
If that alone wasn’t enough, it was also the labour that worried me; without my glasses and my hearing aids, I feared that I would be totally isolated in my surroundings as I gave birth. My partner is hearing, but I knew it would be unfair to rely on him, as he is emotionally involved and well…. also, because he is a man… who knows how he may react; he may pass out on me or fall asleep. These thoughts began to whirl around in my mind as D-day loomed; it started to take some of the joy out of my meeting bubba and filled me with anxiety.
However, I was lucky enough to have a wonderful BSL (British Sign Language) interpreter, or should I brag, a team of interpreters waiting to support me when the day finally arrived. And I was glad that I had someone there, as it was quite the most chaotic day, as my beautiful daughter was born via C-section. Feeling her being lifted out of my stomach, I waited with bated breath, looking at my interpreter in a deadlock stare, waiting for her to sign to me…’ she was crying. Those few seconds were the longest moments of my life, of not being able to see or hear her.
Sure enough, I had to stay in the hospital because of the procedure, so I explained to the nurses that I needed my baby monitor, sorry, partner, to stay with me to be able to wake me when the baby cried. They were very understanding and supportive and allowed that to happen. Needless to say, we both didn’t get any sleep that night!
I like to think that my daughter and I have this amazing connection; I often feel like I can feel/sense her without needing to hear her. I can often sense when she is crying or when she is awake. And I can see everything I need to see with my eyes, her expressions and body language.
I have been teaching her to sign; she can currently sign ‘milk’ and ‘food’.
It brings me joy to see her sign, and I often ask myself, ‘does she know that I’m deaf?’ as I notice that she is very tactile and uses her hands to get my attention. I am blessed, though, as my other half fills in some of the missing gaps for me and tells me the sounds she makes and the words she is trying to say. We work together well as a wonderful team.
I am sure that you guys want to know the ‘obstacles’ or maybe embarrassing moments I’ve had so far… well for one, my daughter is so vocal; that once we were in a shop and people were looking at us. Being a proud mummy thought it was cos my girl was gorgeous, so I looked down to admire her, only to see her red-faced and screaming her head off! She still does this now. I’m not sure why.
There’s been many a time where I have run the batteries out on her toys as I leave them on all day, not knowing that they are on until my partner comes home with a quizzical, almost concerned look on his face as if he is ‘hearing’ things until he notices her toys… oops!
Despite all of this, what is most interesting is seeing the different journey my partner and myself are going through together as new parents, as he learns to differentiate her sounds to meet her needs. For me, it is more visual.
You could almost say that we are like yin and yang. I think we make the best of both worlds for our little girl, as I hope she grows open-minded. Vocal and communicative in voice, sound, expression and body language. I hope that this will lead her onto the road to becoming a strong and confident little person. Granted, I know there are going to be many more embarrassing moments for us all; and ‘obstacles’, but together as a family, I know that we will be happy. I look forward to what life will bring us 🙂