A Mother first, a Deaf woman second
Being diagnosed as Deaf at a year old, my parents placed me at a specialised preschool for the Deaf and hard of hearing. From there, I had many opportunities provided for me, I was provided with access to sign language, speech, and even cued speech. My parents worked tirelessly to ensure I had no barriers and had access to communication at all times.
Today, because of my parents efforts and those around me, I have grown up to identify myself as a proud Deaf woman and would not wish myself to be able to hear- you know the saying, you do not miss what you have never
had, and in my case, it would be sounds. I communicate in what I am most comfortable with and that is sign language.
When my daughter, Callie, was born, at the hospital the nurse did the newborn hearing screening test, and I could see by the expression on the nurse’s face that she had failed the test, it seemed like the nurse was afraid to give us the bad news, but my partner and I just laughed and said that we were Deaf and that it didn’t matter if our daughter were Deaf. As a matter of fact, I thought this was a bonus for us, our daughter is just like us! My partner and I were ready for this, I actually predicted that Callie was Deaf while pregnant with her, basically because she did not move when I made loud noises in the house.
Right after Callie was diagnosed Deaf, I had to make the most difficult decision of my life, deciding if I wanted to give my daughter cochlear implants or not. Myself as a proud Deaf woman, I would not get cochlear implants because I do not want one, I do not even wear hearing aids. So call me a hypocrite but why would I give my daughter a cochlear implant when I won’t get one myself. I struggled with making this decision for a while.
Eventually, my partner and I decided that we wanted to give Callie all the options available for her, including going ahead with the surgery for cochlear implants.
I told the cochlear implant Doctor first thing, “just because my daughter will get cochlear implants, does not mean she will be excluded from sign language, she will still receive access to sign language.”
I did not want Callie to grow up and tell me that I was so selfish because of my proud Deaf identity that I denied her the opportunity to be able to hear. Eventually when Callie grows up, she can make her own decision and continue to wear her cochlear implants or not.
The pretty awesome part is when she hears an airplane and looks up and then signs airplane- right there, that is access to all modes of communication and I knew right there I had made the right decision even though this may be controversial, but no regrets.
I’m still proud to be Deaf, and I am extremely proud to be my daughter’s mother. I chose white cochlear implants because they stand out and I wanted the world to see that I’m proud that mydaughter is Deaf as well as to teach her to be proud of herself.
Story provided by Break the Sound Barrier, for more stories go to breakthesoundbarrier.org.au