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What Would You Do If You Couldn’t Hear Your Children?

What Would You Do If You Couldn't Hear Your Children?

My children are not allowed to listen to music on their iPods like all their friends.

They can’t turn their backs to me when they talk. They must keep their mouths free and clear of debris and food or I won’t understand what they are saying. And they definitely can’t bellow “Mom!” from another room and expect me to answer. I won’t hear them. I am their mom, and I love them, but I also have a hearing loss.

My hearing loss started when I was in my 20’s, inherited from my father’s side of the family. By the time my first child was born, I probably needed to wear hearing aids, but was still in denial. When my son was born two years later, I religiously wore my hearing aids for work, but never at home. As they grew, so did my hearing loss and I was soon forced to accept it and wear hearing aids all the time. Thank goodness I did, otherwise I would miss quite a lot!

When my children were infants, it was easy to manage my hearing loss and my role as a mom. I used baby monitors when they napped and always had them within an arms length. Plus, they couldn’t yet run into the other room while I wasn’t looking. But soon they grew and began to explore. I was always most vigilant with my eyes since it was harder for me to keep the proverbial “ear out” for anything amiss.

As they aged out of their baby monitors, the scariest times for me were at night. I could not hear their cries as I slept, meaning my husband needed to answer their calls for water or comfort them after a bad dream. My husband’s movement as he got out of bed would sometimes wake me up, but not always. So when he was traveling, I was very nervous — alone in the silence and wondering if all was well on the other side of the house.

I considered reinstalling the baby monitors, and did for a time, but it began to feel intrusive. Now that my children are older, they know that if they need me in the middle of the night, they have to come to get me — calling out will not work. My children are part of the reason I have chosen to wear Lyric hearing aids, because I can wear them 24/7 — even when I sleep. This helps, but I still feel uneasy.

Since my loss is genetic, I worry that I may have passed it onto my children so I do everything in my power to protect their hearing now, just in case they develop it as an adult, like I did. Hence, the no iPod rule. They can listen to music anytime they want — just not with earbuds blasting the bass into the delicate reaches of their inner ears. And at loud parties or concerts, they MUST wear earplugs. It is mandatory. So far I have been lucky and they do, but I know this will be harder as they become full-fledged teenagers.

Sometimes my kids are surprised by how much I do hear, especially when they are planning mischief. My hearing loss is concentrated in the mid-range frequencies, with my high pitch hearing almost perfect. This can sometimes make it easier for me to hear a high-pitched stage whisper than something said in a normal voice. Plus I lip-read, so they need to be out of eyeshot as well as earshot to really plan something on the sly.

I often wonder if it bothers my children to have a mom that can’t always hear them, but when I ask them about it, the question doesn’t seem to compute. I guess they have never known anything different. My hope is that they will learn from my experiences that there is never a reason to let a physical limitation hold you back from what is important. And there is certainly nothing more important to me then my children.

Do you have trouble hearing your children? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!

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Shari Eberts
Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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