Friday, January 18, 2008

The Difficult Choices...

So, this blog is for everyone who thinks that I have "IT" together. On the outside, I totally do. Thank you notes are written, the house is pseudo-clean, I volunteer, and I put Cheerios in Waterford. I wouldn't call all this having "IT" together. I would just categorize all of that as ways I deal with not having "IT" together at all! It's like that MTV True Life show...except instead of True Life: I'm a Beauty Queen or True Life: Engaged and Underage (MY FAVORITE!!) my show would be called:

TRUE LIFE: I'm a Mom of a Deaf Baby Who Has No Idea What the Heck She is Doing


I was talking to my good friend on the phone yesterday. Our husbands were childhood friends, and I am lucky enough to call her my friend. We're both Mommys (she has 3 with one on the way...I call her my "Guru"), and we both are OBSESSIVE when it comes to scrapbooking. We were chatting about our journey with Christian, and she said "You and Chuck have had to make so many difficult choices in Christian's first year. We really admire you".

After we shared some laughs about our kids and families, we said our good-byes, and I got to thinking....we have had to make difficult choices, and I wonder everyday if I am doing the best thing for my kid.

I am having an INCREDIBLY hard time trying to figure out how and where my kid will fit into the "Deaf Community". I will be the first to admit that I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THE DEAF COMMUNITY. I've been lurking on many DC websites, trying to learn more about my son's culture. I'm learning that there is alot of debate about being "Deaf Enough", especially when it comes to CIs and whether a family choses to use ASL in the home. I'm terrified of my kid getting rejected should we chose to get a CI. Sure, our plan right now is to mainstream him into our public schools. But what if he wants to go to a Deaf School? Will he be able to relate to the kids there? Will he be "Deaf Enough"?

Our family game plan has always included ASL. To me, it's a part of who Christian is. And that's just me. But, our family game plan has always included the hope for him to be oral and use spoken English as his first language. I've always seen this as a way for him to have a piece of both of his worlds. ..or is it? In all honesty, I am completely freaked out that the choices I am making today will impact his adult identity too. I would give anything to walk in Christian's shoes. Everyday I wish that I was Deaf so I could understand where he is coming from. It, for lack of a better word, SUCKS that I haven't got a clue about his community or his language. I'm the one who is supposed to be TEACHING him.

I know that you don't have to be a hearing Mom to a Deaf baby to have these freak out moments. And don't get me wrong, I just don't freak out over him being Deaf. I freak out over making sure I raise a strong, yet sensitive man. I freak out because I wish I would've paid more attention in gym class when we talked about the rules of soccer and football(I was a figure skater. If it didn't have sequins or glitter, I wasn't interested).

I know that all parents have difficult choices to make. And I know that there are a million and one families who would give anything to ONLY have to deal with the choices that I make everyday. I try to keep that in perspective. I try to make it a point to thank God everyday for my miracle baby. I also try to take a step back, and know that I'm doing the best I can. But, it's hard. I guess that's why they call Motherhood the toughest job on earth.

19 comments:

Jodi Cutler Del Dottore said...

Christina,
I just copied your entire post to my blog...it was beautiful and sums up what we all go through. Your voice is so important for other parents and your son. What you are going through is totally normal, just keep writing...it's a cathartic experience. Big hug, love, Jodi PS. Get bombed at the wedding...

Mother of Bilingual Deaf and Hearing Children said...

I just picked up your blog through Jodi's. (Thank you, Jodi.) Christina, welcome. Your experience mirrors much of my own as I began this journey with my daughter nearly 18 years ago. Learning ASL so I could use it with her, getting and using hearing aids, using and modeling spoken English, providing her with ASL role models (people who could sign better than me), extending our family, expanding my world, recording her expressive sign language and vocal approximations, watching to see what worked for her, etc. I smiled when I say the word "light" on your list. That was her first sign.
Mother of Bilingual Deaf and Hearing Children
P.S. Her e-mail signature includes the full text of the "live, love, laugh" statements. Kindred spirits.

Karen said...

Guess what, Christina and all the other moms-- it's called a journey. You don't have to have it together. Instead, you just embrace your kiddo and use this journey as a wonderful learning experience. Your child will also lead you on this journey as well and eventually, your child will be making choices of his own.

Hedy said...

I am a mom of a deaf kid. She is 8 months old. I am not going to implant my daughter at all. She's happy. ASL we use to communicate. She gets very excited. I have 5 deaf kids growing up into teenagers...very challenge. you know--TEENAGERS!! We got them into deaf school when they get in high school. They changed and a lot of improvement. They said they would NOT want to go back into the mainstream. They are involved sports, events, and prom. They are magnet to my baby when they come home from school. ha. I encourage you to listen to all non-implant to see a lot of us are glad to not hear. I am glad, too. I experienced hearing aid that bothered me a lot. I hate sound noises. I know all of you hearing parents want kids to hear music and any animal songs. I honest do not care. I will hear when i go to heaven. :-)

I have some friends who have cochlea implants. I accepted who they are. They use ASL. Very respectful. I cannot stand to implant my baby. geez...hard to see her suffer to make her hear. oooo.
sorry! give your kid the best education...nobody can say ban to ANY languages!!!!

Aidan Mack said...

Hi,

I want to congratulate you for having a Deaf son. It’s a God gift that you have adorable Deaf son. It has nothing to do with you causing your son to be Deaf. It is so sad some people would create the myth that it would be a BAD NEWS for having a Deaf child. What it makes the world beautiful is DIVERSITY.

I am glad that you allow your son to access to American Sign Language. Some parents view American Sign Language as dirty and try to make this child to be "hearinglike."

In my opinion, your son does not need to be fixed by implanting CI on him. He's just perfect the way he is

I thank my mom everyday for not implanting CI on me. I am ASL-Deaf person. I work as a filmmaker and I am doing very well. I work in hearing community 99 percent of my time. I love the Deaf community.

It is beautiful to have bi-cultural and bi-language which are written English and signed in ASL.

The Deaf community welcomes your son, your husband and you with open arms!

Any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at Deaffilmmaker@gmail.com

Aidan

pdurr said...

Hi Christina

ur desire to do right by your son is wonderful

some of the best interpreters i have ever met are the ones who struggle with determining their place and how to be their best

it is the folks that do not ask questions of themselves and their choices, who are most likely to miss opportunities

re: ur son being accepted by the Deaf Community - i see no problem with that.

My husband is Jewish and we are raising our children Jewish - within ultra orthodox, orthodox, conservative and reconstructionist Judaism - our children would not be recognized as being Jewish due to their mother not being of Jewish blood. Within reform judaism - one parent is enough so its cool

does it irk me to think that some day my kids might be told by another Jewish person "hey, you're not Jewish cuz your mother wasnt?" yeah sure but i would not change our decision for fear of that

it irks me far more that my kids will more like encounter as they already have, a Christian saying "you are going to #$%& because Jews don't believe in Jesus...."

the first is just stupidity and the second is bigotry

far worse comes from bigotry than ignorance or having strong opinions

your son is likely to encounter audism - it is thankful that he will not be encountering it at home - that is a huge plus and that he will be learning that he comes from a long line of Deaf folks who have stood strong, tall and firm and with love and will not be told they are insufficient, incomplete, or need to train themselves out of using their hands or their eyes as so often comes naturally

u are giving the greatest gift one can give to their child - UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

much peace

patti durr

Aidan Mack said...

Hi, I want to correct my typo.

Typo: access to American Sign Language

Correction: access American Sign Language

Typo: Bi-Language

Correction: Bi-lingual

Smile,

Aidan

Jodi Cutler Del Dottore said...

Christina,
You just got a lot coming your way that maybe was unexpected, hopefully you will take all that is positive and not freak out...I think I could probably freak out a little at some of these posts:) Check out the comments you received on my blog. So many people poured out their hearts about very difficult histories and situations. Aidan left a beautiful blog link that you should read...very emotional. I think that blog is the most similar to what you are feeling. I hope these posts help you in that everyone wants you and Christian to be happy and fulfilled, ultimately the decision is yours how to raise your son, but it's nice to know that he's so little and already everybody love him...big hug, Jodi

Jodi Cutler Del Dottore said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rachel said...

Christina,

I completely understand the difficult choices that you have to make for your child as my parents went through this stage 20 years ago. As a 20 year old deaf adult, I am currently hearing with bilateral cochlear implants without any use of ASL. I was implanted when I was 2 and a half years old in 1989 when it was not yet approved by the FDA. My parents raised me with AVT and no ASL, and I'm hearing, speaking, and communicating very well. I'm very happy for the decisions that my parents made, and I have no regrets that I didn't learn ASL as I'm leading a rich and busy life. My deafness will always be part of me, but it doesn't define who I am. Also, instead of being bilingual in English and ASL, I'm bilingual in English and French. If you would like to get to know more about me, please visit my website - http://www.cochlearimplantonline.com and you're more than welcome to e-mail me anytime. I also have videos of me and my sister, who was also born deaf and has cochlear implants, speaking under the section, "Life."

Rachel

Mom to Toes said...

Tina,

Your post is beautiful. And I can completely relate. Like Jodi said, keep writing.

Keep looking at all of the alternatives. But don't trust anyone who tells you *this* or *that* are the right choices for Christian. Because you and your husband are the only two who know what is right.

I know it is overwhelming at times. And I'd be lying if I said the second guessing eventually goes away. But it does get easier as you see your child succeed with the tools you have chosen to give him.

And Christian will succeed. Of this I have no doubt. ;)

Regardless of what path(s) you choose, the essence that is Christian, that sparkle, will not go away. It is who he is.

Deafness and the choices you make for him will not define him. They are just parts of a much larger whole.

Christian's Mommy said...

Karen, as always you have the words of wisdom that I need on my tough days!

Hedy-Thank you for your insight, and it's always good to meet other Marylanders.

Christian's Mommy said...

Jodi, I seriously need to plan a trip to Italy so we can have some wine together! I am so glad that I have found such a wonderful community of Moms through the Listen-Up site...knowing that I have other folks out there that are going through what my family is helps me get through the tough days.

:)

Christian's Mommy said...

Mother of Bilingual Deaf and Hearing Children:

Thank you for your kind words...they truly mean alot!

Christian's Mommy said...

Aidan-
I LOVE your blog! Thank you for your comment and your kind words. Your perspective is extremely valuable!

Tina

Christian's Mommy said...

Patti,
I often wonder if my experience with Christian is similiar to raising a bi-racial child. It's trying to find that delicate balance that is the biggest challenge for me. And the more I learn about the Deaf Community, the more confidence I gain.

Thanks so much for your comment.

Christian's Mommy said...

Rachel-Your blog is beautiful. I have visited it often, and am so glad that you found mine. You and your sister are inspirations to everyone, hearing or not.

Jenny said...

Hey Tina -

So sorry that this is a few days after your original post! You know we've been out and about... :) I just wanted to say that I really appreciate what you wrote. Although Caroline isn't deaf/HOH, she has her own set of challenges to face with having a mom who's in a wheelchair (and the challenges most likely seem so much larger to me as her mother than to her as the actual person living with them...). I worry every day about how my disability could limit her own growth, just as you are afraid that the decisions you make for Christian might have some sort of negative impact on the future.

Just like you, I also get scared about how other kids will react to her, or if other parents will be reluctant to have me have their kids over for play dates and stuff because of any perceived limitations they have of me (which you and I both know are pretty unfounded - hee hee). Thinking about things like play groups and activities and future school sometimes overwhelms me - will it be accessible? Will I be able to fully participate and help her with whatever will be going on? Just like you worry about fitting into Christian's world, I worry that I won't be able to fit into her "able-bodied" world.

I think the hardest part about all of these feelings is that they are incredibly unfamiliar to me - you know me, and you know that I've never been one to let my spinal-cord injury hold me back, but for the first time, when I became Caroline's mom, I developed this sort of anxiety about my limitations. And every day, I have to have that little argument with myself, just as you do, to get my head to be thinking in the right direction - "it's all going to be just fine, and we'll figure it out somehow." When we were talking on Saturday about the baby harness debate, you really helped me to remember what is most important - it's not how others are looking at you, it's about the fact that you are doing something that helps you and your kid to get from point A to point B. It was EXACTLY what I needed to hear at EXACTLY the right time... I hope that hearing your own advice can help you to make peace with your inner voice. Talk to you soon...

Sandra said...

That was an awesome post. I just happened to stumble upon your blog and this post spoke to me so much. Our 5 1/2 year old daughter is deaf and boy, do I ever understand the worrying about making the right decision...