Welcoming our second deaf childPublished Date: 10 Feb 2022
A new year and a whole new life change for our family as we welcomed Isabelle’s little brother Jack just before Christmas. He’s fitted in beautifully and is thoroughly enjoying his enviable lifestyle of feed, sleep, repeat!
We knew there was a chance Jack would be deaf too as both myself and Isabelle have severe-profound hearing loss. Sure enough, his newborn hearing test and subsequent ABR (auditory brainstem response) confirmed this. For us though, it was a very different scenario and reaction to four years ago. We didn’t expect Isabelle to be deaf, despite my hearing loss, because I was the only one in my family with a hearing aid. There was a period of grieving and intense worry for her future. Since then, we have watched her thrive with her cochlear implants. Her speech is age appropriate, and she is the most confident, articulate, and extremely bossy little girl! She even stood up in front of her nursery class just recently and demonstrated how her ‘ears’ work, explaining she had aids as a baby and that everyone needed to face her so she could read their lips. I would never have imagined such advocacy at her age, and I’m immensely proud of her.
For all these reasons, my husband and I have had no emotional outpouring over Jack’s diagnosis. No tears and little worry. He is now coming up to two months old and received his first hearing aids last week. As they were switched on, he heard us for the first time, giving us a wide-eyed and blinking expression, which slowly turned to the biggest smile we’d ever seen - cementing a really magical moment. He’s now ‘chatting’ back to us and getting used to this strange new world of sound punctuated by loud musical bursts of Frozen and Encanto from his sister!
We’re getting used to managing more equipment again, constantly checking they’re still on his head whilst knee deep in playdough or role play with Isabelle. It’s a juggling act! This is alongside frequent audiology visits to take new mould impressions for his rapidly growing ears. The whistling feedback in between fittings isn’t something I’ve missed…
We hope over time that Jack will have a great role model in Isabelle - someone to help retrieve his aids when he pulls them out and throws them (like she did many a time!), to help stop him chewing them and to teach his first signs to start him on his communication journey. It’s all been a little easier this time: we already have our wonderful Teacher of the Deaf, and we know the procedures we’ll go through and what comes next.
I never imagined myself having two children with hearing loss, but that’s ok. This is just one part of us and not who we are. We’ve done this before, and we’ll do it again. I’m not thinking of a future measured in appointments and tests. I’m thinking of toys strewn across the lounge, sibling squabbles, family holidays, magical Christmas mornings and cuddles on the sofa! It’s not all easy but no parenting journey is. How lucky are we?