Raw Thoughts and Feelings from a Deaf Mama

I am a deaf mama. I was born with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss. My mom met the right people and made the decision to lead me on a path of verbal auditory training at a very young age. Although I tried to reach out within the deaf community to connect and make friends, my peers were uncomfortable around me because I spoke well and interacted well within the hearing community. As a teenager, I received a cochlear implant surgically which improved my ability to hear significantly, and thus I was even more integrated within the hearing community. I did not grow up with the identity of a deaf woman but rather a person with a handicap in a hearing world. 

As a pregnant woman who is physiologically deaf, I had many thoughts about what was to come. Since it was truly unknown whether my hearing loss was genetic or essentially a once in a lifetime freak accident, we did not know whether it would pass on to the next generation. Would my daughter fight the same battles as I did? Would she get a cochlear implant and if so when? Would I lose a bonding opportunity if we were not deaf together? Would she correct my not-so-perfect speech? Would her friends make fun of her because her mom speaks differently?

How would I prepare to hear her overnight cries and moans when/if I took off my cochlear implant? Would I miss the big auditory moments like burps and poops? Would I be able to sing all the songs she should know, even the ones I missed because I couldn’t hear well as a baby and toddler? 

I looked for a community of other deaf mamas. The blogs I found online and the products recommended for deaf parents didn’t make sense for me. The reviews on the vibration products were awful and I knew wouldn’t wake me up. How would I take care of my daughter? My husband is hearing, but I didn’t want to be limited to relying on him. I drowned in isolation the more I sought for answers and looked for peers like me. I soon realized I was to figure it out by myself as time went on. 

At 3 weeks old, my daughter passed the newborn hearing screen. A sense of euphoria came over me. She would be able to enjoy the most wonderful sounds with ease. She wouldn’t have to face obstacles like I did or be limited. She could enjoy pool parties, go to the movies, and play the game “telephone” with no problem.

But will she talk differently because she was mimicking her mama? Will she be embarrassed of me? Will I be able to understand her when she first starts talking? I know I’ll be heartbroken if I can’t understand her cute speech as she grows and develops. 

I still don’t know the answers. But all I can do is give her exposure and opportunities and do the best I can. 

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