Probably since the very first moment that my wife (let’s call her ‘E’) and I talked about having a baby I began to panic that our child would be born with a hearing loss. Over the years I’ve been told by people in the medical profession that’s it’s not hereditary, but I find that hard to believe. I’m one of five siblings and three of us wear hearing aids. My mother wears hearing aids (or did – she recently had a cochlear implant fitted) as do all of her sisters. Their mother (my grandmother) also had a hearing loss. Three out of five of my nieces and nephews are deaf. I’m glad to say that my oldest niece didn’t follow in my footsteps with the stubbornness to wearing hearing aids and I’m sure she’ll reap the benefits throughout her education. I just wish I had the foresight to see this when I was younger.
Anyway, you can obviously see where my panic was coming from, as well as the standard fear that all expecting parents experience when going for their scans and tests throughout the pregnancy. I’m glad to say that the pregnancy itself was all plain-sailing (well, from my point of view! I’m not sure E would say the same!). I would just have to wait for our baby to arrive (on here I’ll call him ‘F’). As this was our first, we thought it’d be exciting to not find out the sex until the birth.
At 7am on Saturday 10th March 2012, F was finally here. From the first contractions to F finally making an appearance was nearly 24 hours. My mother-in-law was my wingwoman and I couldn’t have done it without her… this kind of sounds like I was the one in labour! I found the whole experience amazing but also traumatic. It was so hard to see E going through what she had to and she did it with just gas and air. Now that F was with us it was time for all of the necessary checks, hearing test included. He had two arms, eight fingers, two thumbs, etc. So far, so good! Now for the hearing test. I can’t even remember what the test was as I was so exhausted from being awake 24+ hours. All I remember is the result and it wasn’t good news. The nurse did explain that the result could’ve been affected by fluid in the ear, but given my family history (contradicting what I’d previously been told!) it was unlikely. She seemed pretty convinced that he was deaf as she was talking about how great hearing aids are now and that the technology has advanced a lot.
I was really devasted, like I’ve never been before in my life. As beautiful as he was, all I could think of was his future with a hearing loss and I only had my personal experience to go by. My entire school life suffered because of my hearing. Since leaving school I’d say that my hearing has also led me into the job I’m in now, a job that I don’t want to be in. At the hospital I lay with F for about 10-15 minutes, in our own little world, all of these thoughts running through my mind. With the help of E and family I snapped out of it and tried to put it to the back of my mind. We had a newborn to look after!
All of the days and weeks rolled into one big blur. Not that I’m complaining, I was loving being a daddy. We had a follow-up appointment at the hospital to give F a more thorough hearing test. I’m not a religious person so I’m not going to say that I was praying every day for good news, but I was hoping. Hoping a lot. The day of the appointment arrived and I tried to be in good spirits, although maybe I’d already accepted that F was going to be deaf like daddy. He was the perfect patient, not making too much fuss and allowing the doctors to do what they needed to do. The result… ?
I really wasn’t expecting it, but he got the all clear! I’m not sure I said much at the time because of the shock, but I’d like to think I had a huge smile for a long time after! The days following his check-up we began to notice how well F was reacting to noise around him. He’d react to the slightest noise, like a bag slightly rustling. I can’t really say what else he was reacting to as his hearing was much better than mine, but E was letting me know.
Life couldn’t be any better. I was married to a beautiful, yummy mummy and had a handsome son – with good hearing! I’d like to say that if it turned out that F did have a hearing loss, I would’ve loved him no less.