Getting creative…the process of having new ear moulds made

Most of the people that read this blog are as new to the deaf world as I am, so for those of you that have never seen a hearing aid before, let me brief you quickly on the basic parts.  To put it simply, there are 3 visible pieces.  The coloured part which rests behind the ear is the hearing aid itself.  Then, the part that fits into the ear is the ear mould.  The ‘tubing’ connects the two, allowing the amplified sound to reach the ear drum.  Our ears are all different in shape, and so the ear mould is unique for every ear.  As small children grow, so do their ears, and they then outgrow the ear mould too. The consequence is sound leakage from around the gaps caused by the ill-fitting mould.  Not only does this obviously mean sub-optimal sound amplification in that ear, but it also results in frequent high pitched shrieks and scratchy sounds. This noise is very irritating to both the child and other family members.  The frequency at which the moulds are outgrown varies with the acceleration of the child’s growth, and then obviously more frequent in a smaller child, but generally, ear moulds need replacing maybe two to three times a year, which in an entire childhood, becomes quite a few times!

So, what’s my point?  Just change the moulds when needed and so be it. It’s not always that simple! The process of making the ear impression which is then used to create the little mould, can be quite scary for a small child.  It requires filling each ear up with a sticky glue like substance that hardens in a couple of minutes which then is removed.  It is uncomfortable, and requires someone being very much in the child’s face whilst the mould is being made.  Scary, threatening and uncomfortable.  A bad combination for small, already anxious children who have already become sick of people looking into their ears.   I think of all the times that I’ve examined children’s ears when they’ve had a fever or a foreign object stuck in their ears.  In spite of always being very gentle, getting that close to a child and sticking the otoscope into their ear, is usually not received warmly!

The initial impressions were done whilst the girls were sedated having their hearing tests.  So the next time they would need new ear moulds, would be the first time that they would have them done whilst awake.  I was nervous.  I didn’t want them to become afraid of the process as this was one that they would need to get used to, as it is something that is going to happen fairly frequently. And a stressful experience times 3, very frequently, is far too frequently for my liking!  How were we going to make this experience less daunting?  The first time that they were taken to try to have the impressions made, was unsuccessful – very nervous, very teary and resistant. So in deciding not to push the issue, I realized that I would have to get creative. However, I couldn’t ignore the screeching for much longer, and it would even frustrate the girls so much that they would ask to have the offending aid removed.  Between advice and help from both Julie and Claudine, we had a plan.  I would take an impression kit home and show them the procedure on one of their dolls.

Well, my audience of 3 was enthralled!  Firstly, my home-made luminous pink hearing aids (which were made for me to wear when Eden got hers to prove that they are actually very “cool” things to have) were draped over “baby’s” ears and then they started to “screech”.  Everyone had to make a pained expression and hold their ears. Then, as the drama unfolded, the baby’s ears were glued up with the yellow sticky goo, got a big “good girl” signed for being so brave, and then after a few minutes the hard impressions, removed.  The pink aids were then put back, and shhhhhhhhhhh……listen!!!……………. There’s no more ugly noise! It’s quiet and baby is happy and can hear nicely again!  This little drama was done three times, once for each child’s baby.  By the third act, everyone was very involved.  Exaggerated facial expressions (especially from the compassionate Tahlita) spelt out discomfort as the aid screeched, and then much laughing, “good girls” signed, and “high 5’s” once the show was over.  Hollywood would’ve been impressed! But was this going to work?

When we got to the audiologist’s rooms to do the impressions, I thought I’d start with the worst, and begin with nervous Hadassah.  When she saw the impression kit she whipped out her hearing aid and presented her ear.  I then asked Julie if I could try to take the impression myself as I knew that Hadassah would be more comfortable with this.  She spoke me through the procedure and I got to acquire another new skill!  There were a few tears, but I was expecting far worse! In a few minutes, the impressions were taken, and the tears dried up quickly after receiving a marshmallow mouse as a reward.  We thought we’d try Tahlita in a few days, just to give Julie and me a breather.  A couple of days later, Tahlita had both ear impressions done without any fuss at all.  In fact, she smiled through the whole thing! What a relief!

Being a parent of deaf children is going to be a journey of getting creative, and I’m quite enjoying all the new little things that I’m learning along the way!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr Seuss

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I’ve had a few months now, to digest and question some of my fears that I’ve had about my girls’ future. A lot of them actually just boil down to the topic of literacy. If my girls are able to read and write as fluently as any hearing children, I don’t see why their opportunities for their futures, would be any different to mine, for example. I’ve also wondered though, of just how much more difficult it must be to learn sounds that make up words without being able to hear them. Sign language’s structure is also really different to that of English, and some of the “in-between” words are left out, so although a wonderfully expressive means of communication, it is not English, and so if I desire their English literacy to be excellent, we’re going to have to do quite a lot of extra work on developing a love of the written word.

From the day that they were born, I’ve read stories to them and shown them pictures. Story time is an important thing in their lives, they LOVE it and eagerly take turns choosing books from our little collection. Kids love repetition, so often, the same, “Peter Cotton Tail’s Busy Day,” is the favourite choice for the third time that week. It’s always a challenge to point out new things in the story or in the pictures, just to keep things interesting, even if it is only for my own sanity! There’s a weekly farmer’s market just down the road from where we live. Every week, bright and early, I finger through the ‘new’ arrivals at the second hand book stall’s children’s section. It’s so exciting to find several ‘treasures’ for a fraction of the price of new books, so our collection is indeed growing!

When we started learning sign language, I was given a set of fridge magnets of the sign language alphabet. The alphabet was the first thing that I learned, and the girls all looked very interested every time that I showed them a few signed letters. They’ve actually been so interested, that I thought that in my pursuit of literacy, that I’d start teaching them the alphabet, both recognizing the written letters and learning the signs for each letter too. This has resulted in some fun creative hours. Just to mention, that it really doesn’t have to cost much at all. Pointing out big letters in a book, or words and letters on an advertisement in the shop, has also been lots of fun. I started my ABC pursuit with button mosaicking… some square blocks of wood, paints of various colours, and then a bunch of buttons that were used to “write” the letters. This proved to be a great activity for vocabulary! From adjectives like “hard” describing the wood, “rough” for the sand paper, all the colours of the paint, the colours and the shapes of the buttons, and then of course the actual alphabetical letter created, and exposure to the word that our collection of mosaicked squares made. One of the best parts of this, was that in the end, we also had “art” for our own home.

I then found some alphabetical foam letters for sticking onto the sides of the bath. An awesome bath time activity which also distracts from the chaos that usually erupts! Every night I pick the next 3 letters of the alphabet, one ends up with each child. They are quite large and are brightly coloured. We always start right from “A” and end up with the new 3 for the day. Three weeks ago, when we first got these foam letters, Eden got the orange letter “A”. Being Eden, she felt like having a taste, and couldn’t help trying out a bite of the squidgy foam. After making a lasting impression on the corner of the “A” with her sharp little teeth, and the horrified response from her sisters (her police!), she was suddenly terrified of the letter “A”. Every night we start, I hold up a letter and it is sometimes shouted out and always signed out. Predictably, every time the orange “A” appears, there’s a very nervous niggle from the smallest princess. Our alphabet game has really added to the fun of bath time, on a whole, and I’m always amazed to see the girls remember exactly which foam letter “belongs” to each of them. Hadassah’s favourite letter is “E” for some reason, and whenever she sees anything that could be resembling an “E”, like a side-on “M”, her little hand signs “E” in a second. Tahlita loves numbers. Everything is counted! Every time we walk up or down the stairs, they’re counted, and whenever she starts playing, or colouring in, whatever she is using is counted. This is not an obsessive behavior, but rather a fascination with numeracy. Consequently, she refers to a hand as being a “five”, and although I keep trying to teach her the word “hand”, I can’t help smiling when she shows me that the “rabbit bit her ‘five’”. Tahlita will be in her element when the foam number pieces come out soon!

I’ve had a rather large cookie cutter collection for a while. The entire alphabet and numbers from 1 – 10 are included. Keeping with the theme of literacy, we decided to bake some “letter biscuits”. The girls absolutely loved it! As dough was being cut, hands were signing the correct letters and little voices were trying along too. Another great opportunity for other vocabulary, like “mix”, “sift” and “crack”, all the individual ingredients and kitchen utensils and of course the word (sign) “biscuit”. Our little Eden has a passionate love of food. She often has her button-nose in the fridge and can be usually found munching on something that she’s found. Let’s just say, that I’m hoping that the baby-pink icing and sprinkles that dressed up the little biscuit “A”s will help her to get over her fear of this tented shape.

The next step has been to find objects and pictures to link them to the different letters, like the obvious “A” for apple, “E” for elephant. We have started making these associations and will continue to do so and then expose them to the written text of the pictures that they are seeing. This is always such special time, as it also means lots of book time, lots of stories, little bodies on my lap, giggles, delighted eyes and “hot cuppas” (tea… a very critical part of book time for mom!) I‘ve also had to get better at reading them stories. HI HOPES has helped a lot with this. I was shown how to sign words on the page, and make book time more engaging. Since trying out my new approach to story time, all the actions, signs, gestures and facial expressions have often left me with a very captive audience of 3; eyes alight and faces intrigued just wanting more and more!

Literacy ideas, and language development are potentially daunting areas for parents. Again, I have to say, that the ideas, activities and “homework” that HI HOPES provides has been extremely helpful. Another reason why a family based early intervention programme like this, is invaluable! The girls are also being exposed to words and their differences through tools like the “THRASS” chart at school, we are investigating other possible means to improve their phonological awareness (how words actually sound) and I’m trying to read up and investigate ideas on improving literacy with deaf children. There’s lots going on, and my girls really do seem to be enjoying all that they are learning (and mom is too!).

The learning process, really has been about having fun. Fun special times as a family, being exposed to letters, signs and words, and learning loads as a result. I really desire that as they grow older, they will have a fascination with words, a love of books and an appetite for knowledge. So far, the delight and intrigue on their faces as they remember a sign for a letter, recognize a word, or page through a book, makes me feel hopeful and I just need to keep thinking of creative ideas to keep things fun and fresh. This really does feel like an adventure: much uncharted territory on my side, things that we’ll try that won’t work so well, and others that will fit my girls unique needs, lots of preparation where possible and times of just “diving into the deep end”. I’m so grateful for the advice and guidance from people that know so much more about all of this than I do!

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“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes that it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” ~ Maya Angelou

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I’m not someone who typically enjoys change. I like to get comfortable in what’s familiar, and then continue polishing and preening until I know that I’m doing something well. This afternoon, I did a quick mental comparison of what my life looked like one year ago. I can’t begin to count the changes as life has done a 180 degree turn on me. One year ago, I lived in an extremely rural setting with snakes in my garden and hornbills in the trees that shaded my house, I walked two minutes to work and I was a leader in that hospital where I enjoyed starting new projects in the community, I studied for hours each night in an attempt equip myself as an excellent HIV medicine clinician, every afternoon was spent going for walks on the air strip with the girls and baking treats for the following day’s doctors’ teas and my thoughts were filled with plans of how my future would work out…plans of what today would look like. Yes, my girls couldn’t speak, but I was being paranoid, so I was told. I sit here today…I now live near the city and I actually have to drive my car every day, I do the odd night shift occasionally to supplement our income,but I’m otherwise not involved in anything medical, I have certificates for the studies from the year before, and can honestly not see how I may ever use them, I spend my evenings writing this blog, reading and crafting, my afternoons with the girls are spent reading and playing…and I have stopped planning my future. Ironically, what actually hasn’t changed, is the fact that my three daughters are deaf, I just didn’t know that this time last year.

My life seems so much simpler in many ways now, and the temptation at times is to see all these changes as losses. It’s the only way that I saw things in the beginning, but each day I discover a change that has definitely added to my life. Having more time with my girls, the gazillion mini celebrations as new words are learned, the people I meet and get to know,and the fragility and strength of the human spirit that I get glimpses of. These are not things that are measurable by human means, not areas that can be evaluated by academics or be awarded certificates for. These experiences and discoveries are like little treasures, often only for my own eyes, but incredibly precious and priceless.

The caterpillar may loose it’s creepy hairs, ferocious appetite and numerous legs, but change allows this creature to transform into an elegant and gentle wonder of creation that hardly recognizes its former self. When I think of this supreme example of change, I can’t help but see change as a privilege. An honour to be in the position to be moulded, crafted and smelted by the Hand of the One who defines Love, Beauty, Wisdom and Creativity – how could this not turn out for my best? A simple saying that I really appreciate is one that says that change has the power to make us either bitter or better, and that the outcome is ultimately up to ourselves. This time last year, Tahlita could only say very few words. She now says and signs the word butterfly as in the picture above…change has been good to her.

Keeping it real – “toilet time”

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So often the media, TV adverts, pinterest and yes, even Facebook, paints motherhood with a very glamorous finish; those super precious moments in pregnancy, birth and the ‘first’ everything’s. There’s a warm and fuzzy feeling, thoughts of stay-soft scented towels, peacefully sleeping babies and don’t forget the proverbial ‘glow’ associated with expecting a baby. Medicine is similar. When you mention that you’re a doctor, people have connotations of success, fancy pens (one needs to prevent the bad hand writing at all costs!), expensive cars, and the title which somehow sees this group of professionals often placed on a pedestal. A glamorous job to have! My experiences of both motherhood and doctoring have been anything but! One thing that they both have in common, is a frequent encounter with all things associated with the toilet. Toilet…hardly glamorous!

Over the next few days, I will be potty training Eden. Not something that I’m particularly looking forward to, as I never know what to expect from my little determined princess. In thinking through my tactics and what I need to do in preparation, I was reminded of those 3 very intense days of potty training the twins when they were 22 months old. The “3 day potty training” approach worked for us at the time. This is an intensive 3 day method where the focus is on teaching the child what the “urge” of needing the toilet feels like, and then showering them with loads of praise and little rewards. There’s nothing negative, you commit to never using the word “No”, and although following your toddler closely for every waking moment of 3 days can be utterly exhausting, it really did feel like quality time with the girls as they had our undivided attention for a full 72 hours! “Different strokes for different folks”, but this worked for me, so I’m going to try it out with Eden. I’m hoping that just having one toddler this time round, will in itself make things less intense.

Thinking back, though, I’ve wondered how on earth we got things right considering that they were deaf, and we hadn’t realized it yet. Gestures – that was the key. We continuously gestured everything we showed them. From a “thumbs up” to convey a job well done, to a holding of the crotch area conveying the need for the loo. This is what worked as each moment passed, so without even being aware of what we were doing, we were engaging by a means of visual communication. However, our limited “signs” did pose for a few problems… You may think that “toilet talk” is indecent, but then considering that on average we will all spend approximately 3 whole years of our lives on the loo, being able to communicate with our children about this less mentioned area in life, is actually really important in the reduction of potential daily chaos…Let me share a few first-hand examples…

Our gesture for asking the girls whether they needed the toilet was to hold our own crotch area and have a very questioning look on our faces. They understood this and it worked. However, as you can imagine, this is not exactly socially acceptable. Initially in the training, I didn’t even think of this as I was so engrossed in getting results for my efforts of “ditching the diapers”. But over time, I’d found myself becoming more and more uncomfortable and aware of doing this in public, as it always felt like everyone noticed. Consequently, one of the first words that I learned when first embracing sign language, was that for toilet. It took a day or two for the girls to pick this up, and they now use the sign toilet most times when they need to go, which is far more socially acceptable.

The embarrassment doesn’t end there though. “Toilet”, was really the only sign that we had taught them. We would also say “wee” when they needed to have a “number one”, and mostly felt that between hearing this partially sometimes and lip reading that they knew what “wee” meant. One afternoon we were picnicking at a park. Tahlita signed that she needed the toilet. I asked her if she needed a wee, and she nodded her head. I assumed that she understood me. The ablution facility was miles away, and quite honestly public ablutions totally gross me out, so I saw a bushy area nearby where I thought I’d help her “squat”. I actually don’t even know if this is legal, but seemed innocent enough to me. There were other people around, but they were at a fair distance from the chosen “spot”. Hand-in-hand we rushed off to the bushes, as when the girls feel that they need to go, they need to go as a matter of urgency! It wasn’t long after we had committed to the “motion” when I realized that this was NO “number one”. But it was too late to change our tactic –my back breaking due to the now prolonged assisted squatting, we were committed to the bushes! Expecting that she was just needing a wee, I hadn’t taken wet wipes or anything to clean up the mess. I then had the task of hiding the “crime” whilst getting Graeme’s attention to bring wet wipes and a packet of some kind. My gestures, expressive face and subtle cues did not work, and I ended up needing to select a few large leaves, to cover things up, and then retrieve my wet wipes to sort things out. It was anything but a subtle rescue of a situation gone wrong, and that’s when I realized that the time had come to learn more specific toileting signs other than “toilet”.

Things are a lot less chaotic, less messy and of course less embarrassing, since teaching all of them the extra signs, and I intend on using them from the beginning with Eden. How wonderful to also know signs for “wet”, “dirty”, “good girl”, and “toilet paper”… this time round should be a cinch! Again my little “police” helpers should prove to be very useful!… I’d better curb my pride, as one thing that I’ve found to be true with mothering and also medicine especially with paediatric procedures (which is my line of work) – is that these areas in my life are continuous leveling zones in times when I’m feeling confident and relieved at finally “knowing how”. Areas, that whether I like it or not, are humbling, as there are always new things to learn.

(By the way, the associated photograph above, is not a contradiction to my distaste for using revolting public toilets, but rather a fun form of seating at an aquarium where each section is meant to resemble areas of an old ship. It’s made to look grimy and used, but actually very clean! We were viewing the shark tank from the “bathroom”.)

Eye tests

Sometimes children with hearing loss also have visual acuity problems, which need correcting as soon as possible to maximize their ability to interact and engage with their predominantly visual world.  I’ve never thought that any of my girls have eye problems, but then again, I missed that they had hearing loss, so thought that it would be prudent to get their eyesight screened.  I needed to be in the right frame of mind before following through with this plan, as the thought of juggling 6 hearing aids and 3 sets of spectacles totally boggled my mind.  So, once all 3 girls were fitted with their hearing aids, and once Eden’s first two “teething” weeks were over, I decided to look for a paediatric optometrist.  I’d been a bit concerned of whether we’d actually be able to get them tested at all.  The twins are painfully shy with strangers.  Tahlita usually buries herself into my chest, whilst Hadassah just becomes nasty as a means of defense.  This protective mechanism is very effective, as a super grumpy face, violent head shaking and an assertive “No!” usually results in the most child-loving person retracting instantly.  These two’s reaction to strangers usually leaves me a bit red faced and trying to explain that this behavior shouldn’t be taken personally.  Eden usually saves the day and eases everyone’s’ embarrassment, as a result of the blatant rejection, with a friendly face made up of a wrinkled up little nose and sweet grin.  If the environment feels threatening in any way, however, she becomes as unfriendly as her sisters.  So, how on earth were the eye tests going to work, knowing that cooperating with a stranger was a “no go zone”?  This concerned me, as I wanted to get the screening done once and for all, but also didn’t want to waste my money in a futile attempt. 

 

When booking my appointment with the optometrist, I explained to the secretary that the girls were really shy and that I didn’t envisage that this was going to be easy.  She reassured me that the optometrist was very good with kids and that they’d love him.  “You haven’t met my girls,” I thought.  She booked me a two-and-a-half hour appointment just as a buffer for some intermittent chaos and “thawing” time.

Well, the girls knew that something was up as soon as I parked the car.  Hadassah already started shaking her head.  With a big (fake) smile and a “Let’s go and have some fun” suggestion, I managed to coax the 3 of them into the waiting room.  The twins were not amused, and Eden kept me busy as she kept trying to play with, and try on, all the different glasses’ frames that were on display.  Going alone with the 3 of them was probably not the brightest plan.

And of course, as soon as the optometrist appeared and welcomed us into his examining room, I suddenly had 3 lead weights attached to my legs.  We were not happy campers!  The poor man, could hardly take a history for the noise of Tahlita’s crying and Hadassah’s nervous whine.  They wouldn’t allow him near them.  Realizing that we weren’t going to win like this, I had to get creative.  Time to practice being flexible!  Time to be brave, and yes, even a little forward.  I gently asked the optometrist (and his secretary who was hoping that another “motherly” presence would warm things up) if they would mind showing me how to work the projector machine and possibly then leave the room.  Surprisingly, they were very obliging, but I guess the noise levels had reached epic proportions and it would be understandable for anyone to want to escape that. 

Once trained in my new “skill,” I needed to figure out how to make things work effectively.  I sat the twins at the appropriate distance from the wall where the pictures were going to be projected.  We’re all familiar with eye tests for adults; alphabetical letters are projected at a distance, and one tries to identify them sequentially as their size becomes smaller and smaller.  The procedure with children is similar, except instead of the alphabet, there were pictures of objects that should be familiar to a small child.  A butterfly, a boat, a cat, a fish, a ball, a house, were a few examples.  Having become a family that uses a total communication approach, I had a few tools to work with, one of course, being sign language. Thankfully, by that time, I knew the signs for all the pictures that I’d need to project.  I explained to the girls that we were going to take turns looking at the wall and that they needed to tell me what they saw.  Game on!! In an instant there was no anxiety, but rather a sense of excitement to get things right. A fun game with mom!  Dassie would shout out “CA” (for cat) and Tahlita would enthusiastically sign cat. I’d point out the next picture, an instant “BOE” (boat) from Hadassah, accompanied with her signing “boat”, whilst Tahlita just signed “boat”.  We continued the process, hands were flying, voices were shouting and there was a lot of laughing!  Eden was so excited by the whole experience and also identified enough for her eyesight to be adequately assessed.  I’m not sure what the two staff outside were thinking, as although no more tears, there was still a lot of commotion coming from inside our room.  “High 5’s” all round, as we successfully completed even the tiniest pictures.  Relaxed and now enjoying themselves, the girls miraculously were then happy to sit on my lap whilst the optometrist was able to examine their eyes with his ophthalmoscope.

Fifteen minutes and 6 normal eyes later, we left the optometrist’s rooms feeling quite a sense of satisfaction.  Again, comfort zone breeched, flexibility embraced, and you know what…it was quite fun!  I was also really grateful and impressed at the optometrist’s willingness to accommodate me.  Being “forward” in a situation like this, is not really something that I find easy to do, but with other experiences in the future, asking for that little extra help, will become easier and serve as a vital scaffold for building an ability to advocate for my girls in bigger challenges that we may face.

First day of school

I mentioned before that our girls had been “visiting” the local school for the deaf, since the end of October last year.  Considering that there were only a few weeks left of the year and also considering that it took a while for us to make our final school choice for 2014, we decided to wait until the new year, to buy uniforms when we would then officially become part of the school family.  These two girls have been so excited to go school uniform and shoe shopping.  The excitement has almost been excessive, and leaves me a bit concerned at what dad’s future credit card bills may look like considering the fuss that navy blue shorts and shoes picked out from the boys’ section caused!  We have had fashion shows sporting our new outfits, and much giggling as everything got labeled with their initials that they eagerly signed.  We’ve also had pink wagons packed to the brim with clothes and school accessories, and wheeled everywhere all day, in an attempt keep an eye on their new acquisitions and protect them from their somewhat envious baby sister.

Today was their first day of preschool.  At 5 am, Hadassah was hanging over my tired body signing, “hurry hurry” and “wake up” whilst shouting “school, school!” Such excited giggles as we drove through the gates and delight to see their teachers! Their huge, heavy back packs laden with new stationery were carried lovingly and they very proudly and enthusiastically enjoyed dressing into their new uniforms; you could see that they felt at home.  I was expecting a few tears, but today, there were none.

First school days in my mind are associated with “first school” photos.  I can see the picture of me at the age of 5, drowning in my starched dress, with my little brown old-school suit case as my new accessory.  It’s a proud and exciting moment for both kids and parents, albeit often teary.  In a previous post, I mentioned how we started visiting a little mainstream school up the road when we first moved to the “city”. My over organized self, decided to make the most of a gorgeous sunny day during one of our visits, and take a “first school” photo. It’s close to perfect; two little rosebuds amongst the shrubs in front of the school sign, smiling for mom. So, admittedly, one of my first thoughts this year had been about this kind of clichéd photograph.  Do I really need the school name in it? I mean, “….school for the deaf” is as large as life.” I’ve made peace with the word “deaf”, but this school photo thing, is just a small reminder that this was not what I had always envisaged.

I decided to pluck up the courage to get my shot. Yes, the sign may not have the most pretty, and impressive name, but my two little rosebuds are still the focus of my lens, their smiles, make me smile and their wrinkled little noses still make me want to eat them up.  And, you know what, I need that “…school for the deaf” lettering to be bold at this point in my life…it speaks of my continuing journey through grief and acceptance, and I’ve learned things worth more though this journey, than fancy text books that came from centers of education that had ostentatious names, could ever have taught me.  They are enrolled in a school for the deaf – and I want them to always know that mom and dad were no less excited for them. Yes, my picture is different to the one that I had in my head this time last year, but this mommy couldn’t be more proud! They’re going to be loved and cherished here, learn, grow and have fun – what more could I wish for?

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time,and always start with the person nearest to you.” Mother Theresa

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My little Hadassah is the kind of person who likes getting things right.  She is very determined and rather observant; she will observe something a few times and then try, and try she will until she’s satisfied.  It’s been so sweet to watch her learn sign language, as she’s always quick to gently correct and help her sisters (and even her parents) with signs that, she thinks, can be signed better. In this picture she’s doing just that with Tahlita. She was starting to show her how to sign “turtle”.

When I start thinking about what’s important to teach my children, kindness, is right up there at the top of the list. Of course language helps in explaining why this is important, or discussing stories about other heroes who were kind or simply teaching them to share.  I’m grateful that this quality is not one that is totally dependent on language.  You can observe and act out kindness without a single word or sign.  I came across this next quote which is all about being kind.  It’s a real twist on the way that I used to see things, but so true and refreshing. “I don’t think the worst thing that could happen to me is raising a child with special needs.  I think a worse thing is to raise a child who is not kind to those with special needs.” I’m now so grateful for the other little kiddies that attend their school who have other special needs apart from hearing loss.  Their little lives are as precious and purposeful as my 3 girls’, and the wealth about life, love and kindness that my girls can learn from them, is not something that can be captured in, or learned from, a text book.