Posts Tagged ‘kids’

Half-year Anniversary

happy 6 months

Today marks my six month hearing anniversary with my cochlear implant.

When couples tell me they’ve hit the 6 month mark, whether married or dating, I roll my eyes and think puh-leeze! Six months is really not that long. And I seriously thought about saying nothing at all about it. I mean, it’s natural that I want to hit my one year hearing anniversary with a big bang, but six months? Well, I had to think about it a little, which is probably why I waited until the late evening to even post.

But I really had to.

I asked myself  a few questions today.

What have I done that I couldn’t do before February 17th?

I talked to three people on the phone today. One of those people wasn’t related, nor have I ever met that person. I’ve seen four movies at the movie theater in the past 6 months, none with captions. I’ve come to count four women, all unrelated to me, as friends now. Not just any kind of friend, but closer than that. I can’t yet say that we’re really really close, since I feel like I’ve only known them for 6 months (even though I did talk to them before that), but I know we’ll grow closer still in the 6 months before my one year mark. If it’s even possible, I’ve grown closer to my mom, my dad, and my sister. Other than my husband, they’ve been my rock of support over the last many years.

The biggest things? I’ve become a better, more understanding wife. I’m a better mother. I’ve developed a more patient attitude to both my husband and my children. I have a closer relationship with my children, and carry on many conversations throughout the day. I answer many more questions from my kids, but I also teach them more about life as a whole.

I’m much more confident. I’m more outgoing. I laugh more often. I have a more positive outlook on my life. I enjoy life much more now. The depression I constantly fought while deaf has rapidly decreased, something I’m confident I won’t battle by the time I hit my one year mark.

It’s been a great 6 months.

And I’m anticipating the next.

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Kids. Gotta love ’em.

Something I love most about hearing with my Cochlear Implant is all the conversations with the kids. It’s so true that children say the funniest things, and I must say that they bring so much joy to my life. One thing I remember about being deaf is that I could go for days without laughing a whole-hearted laugh. Things might be comical and bring a smile, but rarely did I catch anything that would make me completely laugh. More or less it was because I couldn’t really hear anything to bring that.

But yesterday I was in the car with my husband, Jesse, and my two kids. My 3yr old daughter was pretending to talk on her toy cell phone, while my 5yr old son and my husband were having the very serious conversation that’s below. In the end, we all laughed at my silly little girl. I love hearing my kids!

 

Son: Dad, who is over all the church?

Daughter: Shhhh. I’m talking on the phone.

Jesse: Jesus is over all the church, son.

Son: Oh.

Jesse: It’s actually named something different.

Daughter: SHHHHHHH!!!

Jesse: Daughter, I love that you have a great imagination, but I’m talking.

Jesse: Son, the bible says that Jesus is the Head of the Church.

Daughter: <exasperated> I’ll call you back.

Silence can be creepy…

As I approach my six month anniversary of hearing (is it me or has this gone fast?) with a Cochlear Implant, I’m amazed at how much I still learn about myself. It’s so weird to me that I spent so many years learning about myself as a hard of hearing person, and then a deaf person, only to do the reverse this year and learn so many things about being a hearing person again. You’d think I’d just remember -oh yeah, that’s what its like to hear this or that- but it’s more than that.

I’m still learning about what I can’t hear. Even now that I can hear.

Someone asked me a few months back what it was like to turn my processor off or take it off at night. The only thing I could think to say was that it’s just kinda weird. It’s like a brain freeze or something. I turn it off, pull it off my ear, and the quiet is so deafening. Ironic to use that work, but it’s amazing just how loud silence can be. It’s all-consuming. But it doesn’t ever really bother me at night. The time I take it off is in the second before I hit the pillow, so it’s usually just a slight sense of relief. Usually.

A few weeks ago my son’s school called me to let me know I needed to bring in a copy of something or other that they needed to complete his registration for kindergarten. The school is seriously not more than a mile from me, so I stuck the kids in the car and we were there in less than a minute or two. On the way, my processor chimed two or three times in my ear (I forget how many) to let me know that my battery was nearly dead. It’s a great thing that it gives me advance warning, not just shuts down, because it usually means I have anywhere from fifteen minutes to a full hour to replace batteries. And it also usually means that I just pull out my spare from my purse and make the switch. Usually.

It was unfortunate that day that I completely forgot to put the fully charged spare in my purse. Even more unfortunate was the fact that, while I thought fifteen minutes was plenty time to drop off the paper at the school, my battery completely cut off about two steps from the school’s entry door.

Let me say again that silence is deafening.

When the battery cut off, I stopped mid-stride. The silence was screaming at me to strap the kids back in the car and head home to pick up another battery. Thoughts flew through my mind about a mile a minute.

Are there cars approaching behind that I can’t hear? No, and we were on the sidewalk anyway.

Are both kids’ feet firmly planted on the sidewalk just in case a car passes and I don’t hear it? Yes, they’re both far away from the curb.

They should walk in front of me in case I can’t hear them and they do run into the street.

Relax, the kids are fine.

What if they ask me a question in the office?

Will I understand them if I lipread now? I haven’t done that as much lately.

Maybe I should just go back home and get the battery.

It’ll take me two seconds to drop a paper, but ten minutes to strap the kids back in, go, and come back.

Can I do this without it though?

What if they ask me something and I completely misunderstand?

And the questions kept going and going and going. Kinda like the energizer battery. Seriously.

I did end up walking into the office, handed them the paper, and exited without having to even tell them I was technically deaf. It was weird not hearing them talk to me.  Even more weird was not hearing my own voice responding to them, or knowing how loud my responses were. But I did it. And I returned home, chastising myself the whole way for not having that spare battery.

Do you like creepy movies? I don’t. Especially movies like The Village. But I’ve seen it and let me tell ya, that day at the elementary school I felt like I was the girl in the red cape, stumbling through the forest, all the while fearing that something… something… was out there coming for me.

It’s so odd that in less than half a year I could be so sensitive to just five minutes of silence and so incredibly dependent on a device I hardly know still. It amazes me.

I got a spare battery in my purse now. Don’t leave home without it.

Baby Fever. Or not.

Something that’s new for me over the past year is that unmistakeable longing for another child. It’s weird. Don’t get me wrong, having babies is great, but my first child was only five months old when my husband and I found that we were pregnant with my daughter.

Not exactly planned.

I love my little girl, and I can’t imagine our world without her, but because she came so soon after my son, I never got to that point where I thought I really want another child now.

On top of that, after my daughter was born, I knew without doubt that I’d never have another baby because I was deaf. It was an emotional thing as a mother, feeling that I put her in danger every time I couldn’t hear her cry. I didn’t want to put another child through that. Even more, I didn’t know if I could emotionally stumble through the baby and toddler phase.

But now?

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I was browsing through some old pictures and found this photo of her. Cuteness!

Over the past few months I’ve known friends who have had babies, family members who have become pregnant, and I kept thinking it’s all just a phase for me, to want another one. Babies are cute and cuddly, sure, but raise your hand if you know how much work is involved?!

The other day I held a friend’s baby for a long time while the baby slept, and I just kept thinking how much I wished I could go through this again.  What must it be like to hear a baby? Not just any baby, but my own baby…

And last night, laying in bed, talking about it with my husband, it kinda smacked me in the head. My own longing for a child isn’t really what I thought it was. It’s not that I feel like our life is incomplete without another child. It isn’t that at all. It’s that I’d love to experience what I never got with my first two kids.

I remember hearing my son laugh loudly the first few times. I remember hearing him cry through a monitor from another room, only if the monitor was at full blast.

But beyond that?

What must it be like for a mother to hear her infant cry from another room and know you can reach him safely? To hear the gentle sound of cooing, or the soft whispers of slumber? I can’t imagine. I really can’t.

Is that a reason to have another baby? No. Not for me it isn’t.

It was nice to see the situation for what it is though. It was refreshing to be honest with myself, smack myself out of the pity party, and continue forward. These things happen in life. We miss out on something that’s so dear to us, want to turn back the clock, but it’s so important that we focus on the good things ahead of us. I could easily mourn what I feel is lost.

Or I could celebrate what’s ahead of me.

Have I said how much I love hearing my kids now? My 3yr old girl was pretending to talk on her toy phone earlier and in a much-too-teenage voice said, “Oh, no way!”

While my son doesn’t always say the silly things anymore (he’s much too cool for that), we have very lengthy conversations about why I think it would be a bad thing for fighter jets to “pow” each other while flying over our house, or what exactly a branch of the military is and how each one is different. And what they do. In detail.

I just love hearing my children each and every day. Even being the 3yr and 5yr olds that they are now. And I’m reminded of a quote Winston Churchill wrote.

“If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find we have lost the future.”

I’m inspired by that. And I know that while I will always remember where I came from, I will choose every day not to lose the beautiful future I have before me. Will you?

My next adventure.

I’m leaving soon.

And traveling to Albania.

I tell myself that I’ve been watching all the Masterpiece Theater versions of Jane Austen’s classics to get used to understanding people with strong accents. Really I’m just a sucker for 18th century everything. But I really am hoping that, because I can watch those movies without subtitles, I will be able to understand the conversations with our Albanian friends.

Why am I going to Albania?

These are the streets of Elbasan, Albania.

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According to the U.S. Department of State, Albania is one of the poorest countries in Europe with it’s average yearly income a mere $4,070 in 2009. With an official unemployment rate of 13.9%, many are forced to seek jobs in nearby countries in order to send money home to support their families.

The reason my husband and I are going is to check on the current status of our Mission Base in Albania, which helps numerous children and families across the country. My husband is pastor of Ovation Church, and we’re so thankful to be able to, through the church, send monthly financial support to help so many in this nation. When we go next week, we will take lots of pictures, which enable us to show the many families here in the U.S. how their generous giving is affecting so many lives.

Our history?

My husband’s great grandfather immigrated from Albania many many years ago. My husband’s late mother had a vision to help the nation of her grandfather, and just four days after the fall of communism in Albania in 1991, her and my husband’s father traveled to Albania and began a humanitarian work in the war torn country. Tons of food and clothing have been shipped and distributed over the years, and it all continues to this day, nearly 30 years later.

My husband and I have sacrificed our yearly vacation (to the usual beach destination) for a trip to Albania. Although he goes every year, it’s been almost sixteen years since I’ve been. To say that I’m excited is an understatement. I’m so ecstatic about seeing the local family that has run the Mission Base all these years, and to see all of the people we are able to help. It’s amazing to be able to help someone so far away, and something completely more to be able to experience it. Especially in a place like Albania.

Here are just a few of the faces of people that we’ve been able to help.

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My great hope is that I’m not completely lost to the language. It’s amazing to be able to comprehend more and more speech here at home, but I can imagine the challenges ahead as I attempt to understand individuals with very strong accents.

I’m hoping to be able to squeeze in a few posts while I’m away, keeping you updated on my progress, and giving little snippets of my trip.

Until then, if you’d like to give to our work in Albania, you can click here. All donations are tax deductible, and they go directly to our humanitarian work in Albania.

Day 10: Conversations with children. They don’t stop.

Day 10 post-activation has only a little to report. I’ve found that I’m adjusting more and more to the sounds around me, but I don’t have those big milestones of the first few days. Don’t think I’m complaining. I’m grateful for those overwhelming first sensations of hearing, but I’m also glad that my day to day life is returning to a somewhat normal state of being. It’s exhausting to be so emotionally involved in something like this, so I’ve welcomed the slow in pace.

One thing I’ve noticed is that my kids talk nonstop in the car. When I first had my activation, the kids didn’t really talk so much to me. They’d ask me a question now and then, but they didn’t just get engrossed with conversation. But now? I may not understand everything they say behind me while I’m driving, but somewhere between Day 1 and Day 10, the kids learned they can ask me anything at any point in time that I’m driving down the street or the highway.

Since about Day 3, my daughter has known that all she has to do is call my name and I’ll understand that she wants me. My son took a bit longer. Even now, he will often hit an object loudly in order to get my attention. He’ll understand eventually, and I know that he’s been accustomed to my hearing loss for much longer than my daughter. But I think it’s so wonderful to be able to hear my little girl just call Mommy and I can turn to see what she wants.

I never heard either of my children’s first words. Nor their first full sentences. Often I’d be at my mom’s house and she’d tell me all the funny things my kids would say while I was there. I laughed. But I also cried. I missed all of their toddler years of talking, and for so long I felt I was robbed of so many memories that other parents get with their children.

I don’t feel that anymore.

I know it’s still true, that I didn’t really hear either of those first few years of learning to talk, but I can honestly say that it doesn’t bother me anymore. I no longer mourn all these things that would pass me by, that I missed. I now celebrate every day with all the amusing conversations that I have with my kids. I’m eternally grateful for every day with these two munchkins that I’ve been blessed with, no matter what point in our lives that we are now.

In the quiet of the evening one night, my husband told me I’m glad you’re happy again. And it’s true. I’m genuinely happy again.

Day 9 – From the mouth of babes

I’ve been brutally absent here these last few days, partially because of being so busy, and also because someone close to me had been in the hospital. I’m so incredibly glad to say that the said person is making a full recovery. Having a loved one in the hospital reminds me that life is so precious, and we must remember not to take our relationships for granted.

On to Day 9 post-activation of my Cochlear Implant.

By Day 5, I had increased the volume on my processor so much, that I had begun getting headaches. By the end of that day, I had to pull my volume down a whole lot. I was discouraged to go backward in volume, because I felt as though I really needed it. It was really helping me understand so much better, but apparently my brain just couldn’t take in so many sounds at once. And even though I had pulled down the volume, I continued to have headaches daily.

Day 9 was the first day that I didn’t wake up with a headache. I was happy, to say the least, but I was still cautious. I left my volume level at Program 2, where I had brought it down to on Day 5, and enjoyed the day headache-free.

I did a yoga workout sometime mid-morning and while the tinnitus did return while doing the workout, it faded and stopped shortly after finishing. I think it is interesting that the tinnitus that I’m experiencing is obviously related to my physical activity. I have done my very best to keep any “workouts” at this point to very minimum exertion. I’ve been told through use of an online forum that activity equivalent to a 30-45 minute walk is recommended, but anything beyond that is frowned upon for quite some time. I’ve certainly kept that advice in mind anytime that I am exercising.

Later on in the day, I sat on the floor in my son and daughter’s room, waiting until they fell asleep for naps before leaving the room. My son had fallen asleep for about 15-20mins, but because my daughter was shaking their bunk bed when tossing and turning, she woke my son up before she fell asleep herself. After I was sure she was asleep, I whispered to my son, who was on the top bunk of the bed, and told him he could get down and play.

The whisper was odd. In the last few years, I’ve come to find that I couldn’t hear my voice much anymore. Even with a hearing aid in, it was always very hard to determine how loud I was talking, which was usually too loud. It was always easy to accidentally talk to loud, because that’s when I could actually hear myself speaking. But whispering? If I had tried that, I’d probably be either not actually making a noise, or not even whispering and just plain talking instead. Judging the sound of my voice, or loudness, had become impossible.

So it was fun to know that I could whisper to my son. He whispered back to me, and guess what? I heard it! We whispered back and forth to each other several times before he finally got down from the bed and we quietly left to a different room.

Remember playing telephone as a kid? I certainly remember playing, but I always sucked at it. I know that as a very young child in private school, I had hearing tests that proved I heard normally, but I wonder sometimes if my hearing started declining earlier than my late teens. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had unknowingly lost some by the time I was first entering my teen years.

Let’s just say that it had been a very long time since I’d been privy to a whispering conversation. Stuff like that makes me feel like a kid again. Enjoying those little things. They aren’t important really, but they just bring a spark to my life, enabling me to clearly see how fortunate I am.

Later in the day I took the kids with me to the store, and as we exited, we saw an enormous flock of birds overhead. I don’t know why it happens, but these black birds often choose my local grocery parking lot to congregate. I don’t mean a few hundred birds. I bet there are well over a thousand that cover the lot frequently. A car drove through the back of the parking lot about the time we exited the building, and all those black birds flew into the air, flapping their wings and chirping a million chirps.

I heard it too. I heard the flutter of so many pairs of wings and their high pitched voices as they filled the air. Try as I might, I can’t even remember the last time I heard a bird. It’s been so long that it’s simply just faded from my memory. But I heard them that day.

I don’t typically hear birds chirping, even now several days later, and I know it’s just because I automatically tune most everything out. Sounds are so overwhelming right now, and because I can’t differentiate between a lot of things, I get a constant static background noise with most everything I hear. Gradually my mind will start picking out different things and they’ll pull apart from the static. So it was fun hearing the birds as they drifted from the background of noise to the forefront into recognizable sounds.

I will leave here with a conversation from my kids. I converse with them more and more these days, and I laugh at what they say more than I ever have. Most people know that kids say funny things. But this mother is just now learning that.

Me: [Girl] please put your seatbelt on.
Son: If a Cop saw her with no seatbelt on, he would try and catch us and give us a ticket.
Me: Umm.. yes.. But more importantly, if she didn’t have her seatbelt on and I had an accident, she might fall out of her seat and hurt herself.
Son: And then an ambulance would come.
Me: Uhh, yeah I guess so.
Daughter: The ambulance would take you to the doctor’s office.
Me: Well, no, an ambulance takes you to the hospital. (thinking: how did this conversation get here?)