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Two months ago, at Collin’s pediatrics appointment, we brought up the fact that we weren’t sure he was hearing well.  We had noticed that he didn’t seem to startle at loud noises, and that he followed what he saw, rather than what he heard.   Our pediatrician wasn’t terribly concerned…he was meeting all of his milestones, and he had passed his newborn screening.  We chalked it up to the colds and stuffy nose he and Sophie passed back and forth over the winter.  But, since then, our feeling that something wasn’t quite right increased

We  have rang bells, yelled in his ear, clapped behind him, turned music on in the middle of nap time…and nothing.  No waking up, no looking around for the sound, no startle, no response other than he keeps doing whatever interests him.  He’s not soothed by sounds.   No ba-ba, da-da, ma-ma sounds that babies begin to make, just the same gurgle/giggling noise that happy babies make starting around 2-4 months.  The most heartbreaking is when he cries because he’s faced the wrong way and thinks he’s alone in the room because he hasn’t quite leared to turn around when he’s in crawling position.

At his six month appointment, he was ahead on all of his milestones–except for those dealing with communication, which he was behind on.  Our pediatrician put in a consult to the audiologist, and he is having an ABR test (Auditory Brainstem Response) next month.  Its not soon enough.

In the meantime, I worry…because I am a mom, and that is what we do.  And since I can’t just sit around and worry without going crazy, I research…because that is how I deal with unexpected transitions.  I worry because I don’t know what to expect (even though no one knows what to expect from life).  I worry because my child might never get to hear his own child laugh for the first time (jumping the gun on grandchildren by a couple of decades).  I worry because I love music, and I can’t imagine not hearing.  I worry because I don’t know anything about being deaf, except for a semester of ASL I took 8 years ago.  I worry because I didn’t teach my daughter baby signing, because the only programs I had heard about at the time weren’t based in “real” signing.  I worry because there are too many options, too many opinions, too many people with agendas, too much conflicting information.  I worry because I feel guilty for worrying…I mean, its like aknowledging that something might be “wrong” but there is nothing wrong with being deaf (and I’ll be damned if anyone tries to tell me something is “wrong” with my baby). 

Heck, I even worry that he’s NOT deaf, and that there is something else causing this and that we aren’t going to figure out what it is until it is too late and we have stunted his ability to learn to communicate.

And I keep reading. 

“If parents are not able to accept the fact that their child is deaf and continue to deny the implications of the deafness, the resulting effects on the child are to encourage his own denial and lack of authenticity. Such a child is thus unable to accept himself and his capacity to emerge or become a unique person is blocked. He lives an existential lie and becomes unable to relate to himself and to other deaf individuals and to the world in a genuine manner.”

from an excellent website that has calmed me down a bit @ http://www.deaf-culture-online.com/parents-of-deaf-children.html 

We decided (in our three days of panic) that we are going to start with baby signing—even if Collin isn’t deaf, the exposure to another is a great idea.  Sophie, Collin and I watched Signing Time videos on youTube.

Sophie’s expression to all of this is the puzzled, I’m-not-sure-I-like-this look that generally accompanies peas or carrots, Collin stares in transfixed concentration and contentment.  I try to teach Sophie the sign for “milk”, and her favorite food, “apple”, but she tells me “NO! NO, MOMMY! No like it”.  For all I have heard about the improvement in communication and language skills, I wonder about my two-year-old’s stubborn tenacity, resistance to change and already incredibly advanced vocabulary. 

I want to cry.

Tomorrow is another day…and maybe after some sleep (I’ve been up with cranky, sick kids since 3 am), I can get some clarity…