Not Switched at Birth..

but I gotta say I’ve learned a lot from that show.. ABCFamily’s series about two girls who were switched at birth.. one of the girls is deaf, the other is hearing..

This series premiered in June of 2011, just 4 short months before my precious baby boy was born. I fell in love at the beginning of the first episode. Little did I know that I would be faced with something pretty life altering over the course of the next year. I’ve always had an interest in sign language and I learned some back in grade school. I didn’t know much.. the basics I guess.. the alphabet, how to ask a few questions and random animals. Now that I have a deaf son, I can’t ever feel like I’m learning enough. I can carry on a pretty slow conversation at this point and I find myself signing to people while I’m talking ((case in point, I signed an entire conversation to a lady at my local bank.. she looked at me rather odd..)) and I just don’t think about it. Now it’s second nature.

Finding out that my son was deaf was a huge shock to my system. I was confused and scared and a nervous wreck. I was sad and hurt and so very angry. I was happy that it wasn’t something worse. I didn’t know how to deal with it. I asked myself where I was supposed to go from there. Looking back, the first few months were a blur. Audiologist appointments, fittings for ear molds, choosing hearing aid colors, a plethora of knowledge and information about ears and aids and cleaning and batteries and prevention of ear infections and feedback and ear molds and the dirtiest of words– “options.”

Options. For hearing loss/deafness, there are two options. 1) Hearing aids, 2)Cochlear Implants. SO much goes into both. They’re both expensive. They both will eventually require some sort of therapy (speech, psychotherapy.. etc..) From day one, CIs were NOT an option for me. I saw (and still see) no need for an unnecessary, RISKY surgery to make my son “normal.” Let me be honest, if you’re pro-CI and don’t want the possibility of being persuaded, then you might want to stop reading right here and if you do stop, thank you for your time. It’s been a pleasure. My son is not broken. He is not abnormal. He is not disabled. He is not mute (by any means, believe me). He is not dumb. He is not deformed. He is not disadvantaged. My son is exactly the way that God intended him to be. No matter if it was the vaccine that caused it or if he was born this way. Being deaf does not define him. At 16 months old, he makes sure to let you know exactly who he is every single day. There is absolutely no reason to change a single, solitary thing about him. My ex-mother-in-law as well as my ex-husband have both been on the CI kick since we learned that my son was deaf. They both tell me all the time that without the CIs, he won’t be normal. He won’t be able to do things like normal kids. He won’t be able to have normal conversations. He won’t be able to interact with people. He’ll get made fun of because he can’t hear. He will miss out on life because he’s deaf and I refuse the CIs. “He just needs to be able to lead a normal life. Don’t you want that for him? Don’t you want the best for him? Don’t you want him to be normal?” and my personal favorite is where it turns to being all about me– “You just want him to be like this so that people will feel sorry for you and give you attention. You want to keep him trapped in his own mind just so that you can get sympathy.” Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha….. *deep breath…* Okay, sorry about that. hah. hah hah. *clears throat..* Okay, really. I’m alright now. Newsflash: CIs don’t make your life easy. They don’t make you normal. They make you deaf with a “fix.” ((Author edit: This is my personal opinion for MY child.. This is based on how I was approached from the beginning by the ex and his family; that CIs were a “fix to Monster’s problem.” This is not how I feel about those who have chosen CIs for themselves. I have friends who are deaf who have chosen to have CIs and I rejoiced with them. I was excited for them. But I will not ever force my child to have something permanently added to his body that he may not have wanted in the first place. I fully recognize that just as ASL, speech therapy and hearing aids are tools for deaf, so are CIs.))  If they even work 100%. (For those with CIs, if you’re offended by now, I tried to tell you to stop reading before all this. Flame away if needed.)

I want my son to love who he is. I want my son to accept his deafness, not feel beaten down by it. I’m not naive. I know that this is going to be a long, tough road. I know it won’t be easy. But NOBODY’S LIFE IS EASY! Everybody on the face of the planet has had at least a moment in their life where they struggle. Everybody. No one is immune. And no matter how much, as a parent, we wish for perfect lives for our kids, they will still be met with trials and struggles and heartbreak and hurt and pain.. Because that’s life. Nobody ever said that it was easy.. but it’s how you deal with the struggle that determines who you’re going to be. Life goes on. Deaf is not a death sentence. It’s a life experience. My son will see life from a perspective that I will never get to experience. I’ve covered my ears, I’ve held my head underwater, I’ve blared my headphones and tried to hear myself talk. I’ve tried everything to understand what it must feel like but I can’t. I can only experience his perspective through him. And I cannot wait until he gets older and we meet that first challenge. I know my kid and I know that he’s a fighter. He will fight like hell to make sure that he overcomes anything. He will have a Mom standing beside him that will hold his hand, hug him when he needs it, hold him when he cries, love him unconditionally, fight his battles when he needs me to, stand back and let him fight his own battles when he’s ready, listen to him when he needs to talk, be there for him when he needs me, be his mom first, his best friend second and his everything when needed.

I already had a pretty positive outlook on this whole thing before Switched at Birth started to really touch my life. Watching it now, I can imagine my son at high school age and it makes me wonder what kind of outlook he’ll have. Will my family (The Fiancee included) be enough to give him the right outlook? Or will the ex have made him feel inferior for so long that he hates himself? Will he blame me because his bio dad does or will he have accepted that this is the path that God allowed him to walk because He knew that he could handle it? Will he embrace his deafness and never let anyone hold him back? I hope so.

I’ll end with my favorite scene from Switched at Birth so far. This was all ASL but I paused and wrote it down. It was inspiring and beautiful. And I couldn’t have been more humbled. So here we go, from the recent episode, “Human/Need/Desire.”

MELODY: I want to talk about language today. When a deaf child is born, what is the first thing the parents hear in the hospitals?

TRAVIS: “Your child failed the hearing test.”

MELODY: Right. A baby is five hours old and he’s failed something already? What about the term “hearing loss?” What does that word evoke?

NATALIE: Hearing as the norm. Deaf as less thanLacking.

MELODY: Are we less than? Do you believe being deaf has taken away or added to your life? If someone invented a pill… you could take it tonight and tomorrow you would wake up hearing… How many of you would take it?

*No response from students*

MELODY: None of you. Why not?

EMMETT: Because being deaf gives you friends anywhere you go.

MELODY: Community.

TRAVIS: And a way of seeing the world that’s different from anyone else.

MELODY: Perspective.

STUDENT 1: Hearing kids don’t know who they are. We do. We’re deaf; first, last, always.

MELODY: Identity.

NATALIE: Hearing people think they have more than us… their lives are better, we have it so “hard.” But I’d never give up being deaf to be just like everyone else.

MELODY: Not hearing loss. Deaf gain.

Until next time..

–Isabella has spoken…–

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About isabellaspeaks

I'm 24.. outgoing.. a mom.. engaged.. slightly goofy.. follow my blog and maybe you won't be disappointed..
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7 Responses to Not Switched at Birth..

  1. I have to tell you… that is AMAZING! I am so proud to find a parent who is hearing and accepts, EMBRACES her child for who he, not what he can or cannot do. You are right… your son is not broken, he is not less, he has so much more than you will know. He may feel sad that his biodad doesn’t see him for who he is, but he will have you, someone who dared to learn his language. Someone who doesn’t think her son is less, but understands he has so much more… Being deaf is not a death sentence, it is a blessing in many ways. it is frustrating too… but I have come to understand that is life… life is frustration. but there is beauty to it as well, and we Deaf see something different, we see things in a different way than hearing do.
    I am also so refreshed to see a parent who is waiting, not trying to force her child to be “normal”… normal is a viewpoint anyways. I do have one contradiction though… deaf with CI is not deaf with a fix… its still just deaf, its deaf with different tools, that is all. I am Deaf, proud proud proud Deaf. ASL is my main language Deaf, Deaf community is my home Deaf… and yet, I have bilateral CI’s… but the difference is… I CHOSE MINE. Kids are not in a position to choose on their own, so, I tell parents… WAIT. Do not implant, wait. Hearing aids, speech therapy, fine… ASL is a MUST. But wait for your kid to understand what a CI means, and wait for them to say they want one… most will not want one… and that is 100% fine, perfectly fine, better than fine, it is wonderful!
    I have to say… well done Isabella! keep showing your son you love him for who he is, and not what he can or can not do. He is perfect, just the way he is.

    • Hey there! Thank you so much! I appreciate it more than I can tell you!
      My whole “deaf with a fix” thing comes from how I was approached with it.. It’s a personal opinion that concerns my child and my child alone. I definitely should have written that in there.. or at least quoted it, rather than had it look like my own words. I am 350% against my little Monster ever having CIs.. I am NOT in any way against anyone who has chosen them for themselves. I am fully against parents who force it on their children as a means to “fix their problem” because in those instances the problem is not the child, it’s the parent. I will gladly go back and edit my post to include that text quoted and show that it is my opinion for my child. My ex and his family all said that there had to be a way to “fix it” and that CIs were a for sure fix to his abnormality.. and I can’t get them to understand that he is perfectly normal just the way that he is. When Monster is 18, if he chooses CIs, more power to him.. I’ll stand behind him. I can’t 100% say that I’ll pay for them.. but I will be here for him no matter what. Until then, I will not force him to do anything. I will not push for him to do it so that he is “normal.” If he were to tell me at 15 that he wants them, we will sit down and talk about absolutely everything and make sure that he understands what he wants.. if he still chooses it for himself.. then… I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.. But I will not allow him to make a hormonal decision just because he wants to fit in. I doubt we will ever get to the point though as I am about as against the grain as you can get. If he gets anything from me, I pray that that is it. We are looking for a speech therapist in our area to see when we need to get started ((I’m still so new to all this)) as Monster is trying his best to talk. We visit the audiologist regularly for properly fitting ear molds, testing and checkups. And if there is ever a day that he doesn’t feel like wearing his hearing aids ((which is a lot of the time right now..)) we have no problem using ASL and he enjoys himself. I’m so jealous of him, really.. getting to see life the way he does.. I’m just so incredibly thankful that I get to experience it right along with him. Thank you for bringing it to my attention and thanks for reading and following!
      -Isabella

      • again… I must say… I am amazed and so very happy to see a parent who understands. Make sure that your monster has fun with Speech Therapy, and that it isn’t a forced activity. Have you looked into any schools for the Deaf for him yet? He can attend as young as 3, and they normally have programs for younger kids!

      • Absolutely! I definitely will make sure that he has fun. Mine and the Fiancee’s plans are to make appointments with multiple therapists and have sit downs first and get a feel for them. We’re an odd team and whoever gets brought in is going to have to fit just right! We’re prepared to take the time and ask the questions and get to know people. I’ve looked into schools for the deaf and there is only one. It is an oral school. Absolutely NO ASL. We have worked so hard to get to this point and I don’t want the hard work he has done to be all for naught. One of the reasons that I am a stay-at-home mom is so that I can homeschool him. I was homeschooled and it worked amazingly for me. There are a lot of deaf programs in the nearest big city ((which is only a hop, skip and a jump away from me)) and we will gladly participate!

  2. This is your seester and this is absolutely beautiful 🙂 Like I said, you should have written more of my papers in college. I love you and Monster times infinity ❤

  3. It is great that you are embraces your child for who he is. I encourage you to follow my blog, as my blog educates about deafness/deaf culture/sign language. I encourage you to start learning sign language right away through classes. In addition, there are many resources and groups you can be a part of that will help you and your son in all the right ways. Your son is perfect. His deafness gives him an opportunity to be a part of a culture that is so unique. He will have friends wherever he goes. He will have a perspective and a language that will prove to be so valuable. The fact that you recognize that CIs and Hearing Aids and Speech therapy isn’t for everyone is amazing. Your son isn’t broken. He doesn’t need to be fixed. And having a parent to realizes that is so valuable to a deaf individuals. Kudos to you. Reading this post really touched me. Again, I encourage you to follow my blog. I think it will give you insight and information. In addition, there are many groups on FB that are knowledgeable that you could join. Again, I am so happy I stumbled across your blog. You sound like a wonderful person. Your son is so lucky to have a mother who loves and supports him for the way that he is. 🙂

    • Thank you!!! I have been learning as much as I can, as fast as I can! And teaching my son at the same time! For him, we’ve found that Signing Time ((Rachel Coleman)) works wonders! He absolutely adores Mrs. Rachel and he’s learning every day. As soon as I read this comment, I followed your blog! I’m so eager to get in the mix with deaf culture! I’ve found a few groups on Facebook and I keep looking for more! I seem to find a LOT here on WordPress! It’s exciting! I’m glad you’re reading and following!! Thank you! And thank you for the encouragement!
      -Isabella

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