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Raising an Independent Child

A Mother’s Perspective

Even after fighting for 11 months to get someone, anyone, to believe me that my baby girl was deaf, confirmation of her profound hearing loss devastated me. I couldn’t understand why I was so sad.. What was wrong with me? I’d been telling them she couldn’t hear, and now they were confirming what I already knew. Why was I upset?

It’s obvious to me now. Suddenly, all of the dreams I had while I was pregnant—Krysta dancing, swimming, loving music—were gone, leaving only questions: Why? What did I do wrong? Did I not pray hard enough? Kysta’s diagnosis derailed me. I stopped reading to her. I stopped singing to her. This didn’t last, but it felt like a lifetime. It didn’t help that a professional came into my home and told me that she would never hear her name, or be able to say it. How wrong he was.

Throughout the years, as I worked to help Krysta reach her potential in all areas of life, I had many more fears. I was scared to death that she might be on a walk with a babysitter and a truck would be honking and she wouldn’t hear it and the truck would hit her.

As she got older, the fears changed: How she would do in school? Would she make friends who would be kind to her? How would she talk on the phone? How would she understand a contract? And the BIG one—how would she do with boyfriends? Would they treat her right?

Finally, I was worried about her transition to adulthood. Teaching her responsibility and communication at home was the only way I could think of to make sure she didn’t get evicted, fired, or her heart broken, once she was out on her own. Every single one of those fears did become an actual challenge that we had to address, but address it is exactly what we did! Ultimately, she has overcome each of these issues.

Krysta has made me incredibly proud over the years: speaking on a panel to share her story and provide parents or future Teachers of the Deaf both insight and hope; running track; earning belts in taekwondo; advocating for herself in school; using CART to earn a B+ in physics without my help; and learning to use the phone to talk with friends. These were all incredibly rewarding accomplishments, for both of us. When she made friends at a community pool with teenagers who figured out how to include her in a game of Marco Polo, I cried in my lawn chair.

Then one day, after moving across the country, Krysta texted me and told me that she had interviewed and gotten a job all on her own. Even more remarkable? The person who interviewed her had a baby, and that baby had just received cochlear implants—just like Krysta! I realized then that, as much as I had tried to inspire and encourage my beautiful first-born throughout her life, it was now her turn to do the same for others, starting with her new boss.

Not only can this manager understand my girl and her unique abilities, Krysta is giving this woman hope that her baby son really is going to be okay. Krysta has a lifetime of experience that she can now share in a significant and meaningful way, and I look forward with anticipation to the next chapter in her life.

A Daughter’s Perspective

My mom is the reason I am who I am today. It wasn’t easy for her. She was a single mom raising three kids. I was the oldest of the three, and born profoundly deaf. It was tough for mom and for my whole family, but mom didn’t let any of it stop her. Not only did she teach me what other parents taught their hearing kids, most importantly she taught me how to listen and speak for myself. Mom knew I needed this, more than anything.

It amazes me how she taught me how to talk over the phone. Normally, people who are deaf won’t talk on the phone. Those who can hear don’t understand our situation. It takes many years of practice to learn to have conversations on the phone. Mom wouldn’t give up and I am really happy she was always there to support me—and push me—when I needed it.

She also helped me by letting me go through the challenges that I would face throughout my life. She put me in regular classes with hearing kids, from second grade through my high school graduation. Every challenge helped me get the education I needed, to graduate high school with the typical kids. Now I have a successful life as an independent adult.

My mother always knew how to pick me up. She was there for me whenever I felt I was worthless, or my educational struggles seemed pointless. She made sure I had access to auditory-verbal therapy; she supported my writing and grammar development, and ensured I listened to the sounds I needed to hear correctly. All of those steps ensured that I learned to speak and write clearly. Now I’m 22 years old, and all of that hard work, skill building, and education have paid off! I’m grateful for the tough times. If I hadn’t faced them, I wouldn’t feel as comfortable as I do today.

My mom’s lifelong encouragement is my daily companion. Everyday her words come to mind: “Just be who you are, and never change a thing!” My mother has been the person I look up to. She inspires me in many ways, but especially in the way she has lived her life. She is a strong woman who can do anything without any help, and who will fight for what’s important. She said to “never let bullies get in your way,” which was an amazing gift for me. I hope I can use that, and the other gifts she’s given me, to inspire the people I love to do and be their best. It’s what my mom did for me.

My mother taught me how to be strong and independent, so that I can handle life on my own. She taught me that I am just like everyone else, and that even though I am deaf, there is nothing wrong with being me. In fact, I actually feel kind of special. My hearing loss has given me the extra strength I need to have a wonderful, successful life. I am proud of every single thing that has happened to me, because it has formed the person I am today.

— Krysta Hendrix-Davis and Melinda Davis-Gillinger

Beverly
I work at Phonak and write for HearingLikeMe.com.

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