It is becoming increasingly apparent to me how different my children are. How different our journey is. How different my journey is.
I always wanted to be a mum. I imagined it, planned it, decided how it would be.
The double deaf diagnosis has upset this more than I knew.
William’s friends are all talking in sentences, in tenses. They can do funny voices, accents. He says his broken, distorted words to them and they look at him blankly. Thankfully he is yet to notice. Their parents are constant in their amusing anecdotes of what so-and-so said. All I can do is listen, smile, and try and hide the heart break in my eyes.
William starts school after half term. SCHOOL!! Deaf school. It’s our choice and it’s the right one. He has been receiving his 15 free hours at nursery since he was 2 and a half because he is ‘special needs’. He is at a very sought after nursery in our area. People often ask how we got him in. When I explain they say ‘oh you’re lucky’. Sure. Lucky.
So he is starting school. When everyone else is starting nursery. The conversations in the playground are about where children are getting in to, where children are being rejected for. I don’t know anything about how to apply for a nursery place, for a school place. Someone else does it all for me. Someone on the special needs board.
And it goes further than school. It goes all the way into adulthood. I have begun to realise, alongside how different our journey is, how alone we are on taking it.
I had strong ideas about what my parents did right as parents, and what they did wrong. I felt the same about my in-laws. I planned to strike the perfect balance. But it’s all irrelevant. They didn’t raise deaf kids. They didn’t learn a new language. If there child was naughty while they held them, they could tell them off. They wouldn’t have had to put them down, try and force the child to maintain eye contact and sign, in pigeon BSL, not to do that again. What I wouldn’t give to be able to shout at my children without that pounding feeling of guilt throbbing through me laughing ‘you are shouting at a deaf child you fool, deaf’.
I always worried about having a daughter; about how to raise her with self esteem higher than mine; about how to teach her to believe in herself; how to create an innate belief that she is beautiful. This feels like an even steeper uphill challenge now that she will have giant pieces of metal stuck to the side of her head. And because she can’t hear me tell her, a million times a day, how very and completely beautiful she is.
Will they make friends? Fall in love? Will I have grandchildren? Will they be deaf too?
How will I help Harriet be a mum? William be a Dad? How will they hear their babies cry?
If they manage children, will their grandchildren be deaf? Will we go from a little family, isolated in our own, wider family because our world is so different, to generations of deafies? Is this the turning point? Am I the first and last one to feel like my journey is so different from everyone around me?