Nighttime is much different with a Deaf child than it is with a hearing one. Just how much, I wasn’t able to imagine until I experienced it. When I had my first two kids I quickly learned what their cries meant. I knew whether or not they needed my full or immediate attention, or if they were just whining for a bit of company in the middle of the night. In the case of the latter, I would call out to let them know I was right in the room next door, and that they weren’t completely alone. With Alex, of course, this wasn’t and still is not, an option, even though he’s fifteen years old. So whenever he calls, no matter what the reason, either I have to get up or he comes to me.
The next difficulty: signing in the dark. People who are both deaf and blind learn to sign while touching, but try as I might, I can’t convince Alex to attempt it. So on go the lights which, in the dead of night, blinds us both. And speaking of lights…
They are one of the two things that will wake him up when he’s fast asleep, the other being vibration. I can go into his room and talk normally with no problem, which has been great at times when he’s been in the hospital. The neighbours can party all night long, fans can rattle, his feeding pump can beep, the phone can ring – none of that disturbs him in the least. But if I touch his bed or shine my cell phone in the wrong direction because I’m looking for something, and he’s wide awake. For anyone babysitting, it takes a bit of getting used to. As it will for me, if I ever look after someone else’s child.
My A to Z theme concerns the joys and challenges of being the hearing mother of my Deaf son, Alex. To learn more about his beginnings in life, click here to go to my first A to Z entry.