I am a mom. And I am also a lipreader. Yet how can one aspect of a life impact the other so?
Ten years ago, give or take a few months, I had my first child. At the same time I was cuddling, burping and kissing on my baby, my ears rang like crazy.
No problem, the doctor told me while I strained to hear him. You’re just going deaf. You need hearing aids.
That’s not exactly what he told me. The doctor used the term progressive hearing loss. Same thing as going deaf.
I walked out of that medical office with my head spinning. No way in heck I was going to wear hearing aids.
Me. 27 years old (at the time). Fresh off of maternity leave. A new job. My hair cut as short as singer Chynna Phillips from her Wilson Phillips’ days. Not a flattering haircut with behind-the-ear hearing aids that plugged into my visible ears like electrical cords.
My first confession as a lipreading mom:
I DON’T ALWAYS PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT DOCTORS TELL ME.
Hearing aid wearing mom? Not me, no way. Back then, I’d rather have dyed my hair purple with pink polka dot highlights than worn chunky electronics in my ears.
I blew that doctor off.
Two years later, my son was old enough to talk. A lot. I had every reason to hide my ears from him. I couldn’t understand a word he said unless it was at piercing scream-level pitch. No more cooing and cuddling for us. It was Hard of Hearing Mom versus Screaming Child.
I went back to the doctor.
You still have those hearing aids, I asked him. ‘Cause I need them more than ever now.
That day, I finally accepted my hearing loss.
Now that I have three children ages 2, 6 and 9, communication depends on it. When my oldest son begs for the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, he has to repeat himself. Not because I’m tuning him out or using selective hearing or living in la la land. I can’t always understand him. All of my kids sound like mumblers through my messed up ears.
I must remind my son to look at me so I can lipread him, speak up and repeat his question slowly. He follows my directions and I understand his every begged word.
I am a Lipreading Mom, not just Mom or a Lipreader. Both aspects must find a way to live together.
Come along on the ride with me.