This post was originally written for Hearing Like Me.
Processing a hearing loss diagnosis as a new parent can feel overwhelming. As a parent new to the world of my child’s hearing loss, I have learned a few tips for parents new to hearing loss, to make the adjustment to a new situation easier.
Receiving a hearing loss diagnosis as a new parent
When my son Cooper was six weeks old, my husband and I found ourselves in a small, dark room with two strangers as they performed an ABR on our baby. They were gentle and so kind, but it wasn’t a place we wanted to be. We wanted to be at home, soaking in those baby snuggles, rather than in a children’s hospital, suspended in time as we waited to find out if our first-born child could hear. Potentially receiving a hearing loss diagnosis meant that we knew we had to be there. We needed answers, sooner rather than later.
At that point, Cooper had had his hearing screening done numerous times at our local hospital and had been referred each time. He wasn’t reacting to loud noises at home, such as our dogs barking right next to him, or pans clanging. I already had a feeling about what we would find out at his ABR.
But still, despite my mother’s intuition, nothing truly prepared me to hear two strangers deliver the scary and foreign diagnosis of profound hearing loss. The next few hours, even the next few days, were a blur. We tried to process the news we’d been given and make a plan.
In doing so, we learned a few things about being a new parent and processing a hearing loss diagnosis.
1) Give yourself permission to feel what you feel
After getting Cooper’s diagnosis, I tried so hard to push aside my feelings of fear and anger. I felt like by feeling angry about his diagnosis, I wasn’t embracing him as he was. It made me feel guilty, like I was wishing I had another baby, when that wasn’t the case. It was a confusing spectrum of emotions, and what I later came to realize was my own form of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I skipped denial, but I definitely went through the other four. As a parent, going through those stages just makes you human. It’s normal to mourn the child you thought you were going to have in order to make room for the child you do have. It doesn’t mean you love them any less.