Saturday, April 30, 2011

Unexpected Pride

When we first learned that Brooke had hearing loss it was devastating. You never want your child to get a paper cut, so a permanent disability is horrifying. I could only focus on the things I was sure she would never do: sing in a choir, dance in a ballet recital, speak without drawing attention, or tell me stories of her day in school.

But, when we got the official diagnosis I took to the internet like I do morning, noon, and night and set out to find a solution. I often think that I should have been born in another place and time – somewhere with corsets, or where women still cook in beautiful frilly aprons, or when men stood up when you left the table and carried hankerchiefs to blot your tears – but without google I would be lost, or at least own millions of dollars worth of encyclopedias.

After putting in what seemed like endless hours in the middle of the night I came to a profound conclusion: we don’t need a solution.

Brooke can’t hear as well as other kids. There is no shame in it and no reason to be embarassed. I blanch when people tell me not to worry because she can cover her hearing aids with her hair. Why should she have to hide them? She did nothing wrong and it isn’t a punishment for bad behavior. In the scheme of her life her hearing loss will be but a minor setback.

This idea did come partially from my reaching the acceptance level of the grief scale, but it mostly came about when I learned that hearing impaired children do every one of the things I mentioned above, and more.

She will be able to sing and dance her little heart out – all the way to professional ballet companies or to record labels as others with her impairment have done. She can play any sport, tell any story without missing a beat, and hear every single word that I mutter to her under my breath in her tween-age years. I am certain that there will be days that she will cry and not want to wear her hearing aids. I’m sure that some kid, somewhere, will pick on her. And I’m also quite convinced that my most important job as a parent is to teach her to handle herself with grace and confidence in those situations and to understand that we all have our crosses to bear.

So, here in the Park house we are embracing her hearing aids, not hiding them. In fact, I’m honestly a little sad that she needs a pilot cap or headband to keep the things on until her ears get bigger than the pixie lobes she currently sports. In my ideal world we would go out everywhere proudly displaying her thousands of dollars of hearing helpers and we would educate people all over.

Hearing loss is the most common birth defect in the world. Did you know that? I had no idea, but it’s true. Maybe if we weren’t all so preoccupied with hiding things behind hair then kids would be more willing to embrace differences like that. So, we ordered them in bright metallic pink, with hot pink ear molds. 99% of her wardrobe is pink right now anyway, so it is a perfect match. And yes, in the time of neutral being trendy we are rallying against the baby fashion movement and proudly dressing her like the girl she is, partially because I like being feminine, and partially so I don’t have to smile and roll my eyes when the little old ladies in Target tell me how handsome my chubby baby boy is.

I now look forward to every morning when I pop her hearing aids in and tell her how much I love her because I get to watch her eyes light up and her mouth curl into the biggest smile you’ve ever seen, and I dread every bedtime because I have to take them out and turn the volume down on the world again.

My daughter may not be perfect, but I guess that beautiful, smart, funny, and kind will just have to be good enough.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Month Three

I'm a few days late at this, but it's amazing how time gets away from you with a little one!

This month showed signs of promise and hope - hope that I will survive, hope that Brooke will be able to cast out the demons, and hope that I won't have a voluntary hysterectomy to avoid any possibility of doing this again.

The past few days have given me glimpses of why people do this more than once as Brooke has made it through the majority of the day without having a single meltdown. We still have our bad days where I want to walk out into traffic, but as a whole I am starting to enjoy being a mother.

Yes, that sounds horrible, especially for someone who longed for so many months to do just this, but I'm afraid that infertility actually made it harder for me to cope with the difficult times. While we were infertile I had dreams of dressing my tiny little baby doll up while she gazed at me with loving eyes. I envisioned her cooing up at me in adoration, and squealing in delight at that thousands of dollars of toys we've purchased for her. The reality is so far from that and I suffered from a bitch slap of true life when we were a full 180 degrees from those fantasies.

As far as development goes she is doing just fine. She has rolled over on several occasions, although she has yet to do so with full intent. She loves to munch on her fingers, and grab her toes. She chatters for hours at a time, and now has clear favorites when it comes to toys - a red monkey in a hula skirt, a giraffe with blue feet, and a yellow worm with antenna. Infant toy designers are not very zoologically intelligent.

She does suffer from torticollis, which you can see from the pictures. Her head leans to the right because the ligaments are tighter on that side - probably from being crammed up in the womb that direction. We are doing daily stretches with her, and if it is not better by month four we will start physical therapy. Her doctor assures me (and my research confirms) that not only is that pretty common, but she also doesn't have a horrible case of it.

We also have the added excitement of getting her hearing aids today! I cannot wait to see her face when we turn them on as her hearing loss is something I have mostly made peace with. As a women with a hearing impaired child told me recently, "All children get picked on at some point for some thing and I know that his thing will be hearing aids." All we can do now is raise a strong and confident girl who looks at them (anyone who would dare to tease her) sweetly and tells them to shove it.

Oh, and in the information that only a grandma could care about she weighs 13 pounds and six ounces (a full two pounds heavier than one month ago) and is approx 24.5 inches long. She's a big one for sure, probably because she likes to eat ALL THE TIME. She naps four times during the day for 30 minutes at a time, but only in my arms so I don't get much done during nap time. She also goes to bed at 7pm and wakes at 7am, with four or five rousing fits along the way. I do wish she slept better, but I suppose we will get there in time. The fits can't be too bad anyway because Corey manages to sleep through the vast majority of them.

And speaking of the rest of the family, Corey managed to convince me he needed new golf clubs this month, so here is a picture of his new Cleveland's. I have no idea if they are diamond encrusted, which only seems likely given the price, but they supposedly make him hit like a pro so I succumbed.

And Sprocket has managed to find a way to meditate through Brooke's screams. You can almost hear him thinking, "I'm still an only child. I'm still an only child..."