At the time of this post, I’m not a mama just yet, unless you count my sweet dog. But I’ve got a little boy on the way! If you’ve taken a look around, you might have learned that I’m nearly totally deaf in one ear and wear a hearing aid in the other. I grew up speaking, though, and for the most part, didn’t think about my hearing loss that much until I got pregnant.
Baby’s due in a few short months, and there are a few things I’ve had to think about.
I needed to find a monitor that would work for me. My sister-in-law started on it early for me and did a great job searching! Once I realized there just wasn’t a lot of good up-to-date information out there, I made this website initially for my post on baby monitors for the deaf and hard of hearing. You can click here to see what I went with–I wanted regular video/audio functionality AND vibration suitable enough to wake me at night when I don’t wear my hearing aid. My husband hears, so I don’t want to put him in the position of always hearing the baby first and having to get me up, so this was important to me! It’s disappointing that there’s such a lack of good equipment for this purpose, especially in the U.S.–my baby monitor is actually British.
The Baby’s Hearing
When I was born in 1986, my hearing wasn’t tested, so my hearing loss wasn’t diagnosed until about 15 months or so. There’s no history of hearing loss like mine in my family (and my younger brother hears just fine), and no one ever definitively figured out why it happened to me before/at birth. A few audiologists over the years have commented that my audiogram has the “cookie bite” shape typical of hereditary loss, but my most recent test a few months ago showed that the “cookie bite” has actually flattened out quite a bit since I was a child. My current audiologist said that she has no reason to believe my baby will have hearing loss just because I do.
I will be anxious for that first hearing test, and I expect the pediatrician will do a few extra follow-ups over the first year to confirm one way or the other. Regardless, I’m a big fan of using basic sign language with babies. My mom still remembers how I used to sign for “more cookies, please” (how many cookies was she feeding me??) and my nephew used it well (and still does) before he could verbalize what he wanted. I lost the sign language I used as a child, so I’ll need to brush up!
My OBGYN knows I’m hearing impaired, and was appreciative of me telling her that I have a hard time with surgical masks, because I tend to lip-read (makes the dentist a challenge sometimes). I haven’t completed my hospital pre-registration just yet, but I took a peek at the form, and was happy to see multiple questions focused on deaf/hard of hearing accommodations. I can request closed captioning and a flashing telephone, and for those that sign, there are questions about interpreter needs. I’m so glad hearing loss isn’t an afterthought at my hospital, and I plan to talk with the doctors and nurses about it once I get there to deliver.
After Baby Arrives
This one will be trial and error and the subject of some future posts, I’m sure! The baby monitor will alleviate some of my concerns with sleeping, but I know most new moms have a hard time even indulging in sleep in those first weeks. I have to have my hearing aid out when I shower and before my hair is dry, and I’m not exactly sure what the best solution for that is, when I’m home alone with the baby.
If you’re a parent that is deaf/hard of hearing, let me know if there were any unique considerations you had to make!