I honestly can’t even describe the pain I’ll feel if it turns out my newborn daughter is diagnosed with hearing loss. There is nothing I want less in this world than for Elly to inherit the deafness I was born with on my right side.
Not many people know this, but hearing loss is hereditary. My father lost his hearing on his right side, and unfortunately, I was born with that same lack of hearing on the right.
It’s been a damn hard road. I’ve managed for 34 years, but I don’t wish it on anyone. I also want to be clear in saying there are certainly worse ailments that people deal with in life. However, those things don’t make having 50% hearing any easier.
Growing up with single-sided deafness was challenging. You get picked on. You get bullied. You get mocked. Kids can be cruel. I think I did an OK job most of the time of having thick skin, but I can certainly remember certain moments that really got to me.
A kid once kept yelling at me from the back of the bus — “what? what did you say? what was that? what?” If I recall correctly, this is the only time I completely lost my cool. I guess I had enough that day and wasn’t having it and I walked back and punched him square in the face.
Side note: I ended up being suspended (justifiably so). I also had to write him and his parents a letter of apology. My question is — where the hell was my apology letter? I got bullied and made fun of, so I retaliated, and I’m the only one writing a letter? It always seemed a bit backwards to me. Oh well.
Beyond all of that nonsense though, you just plain can’t hear well. You constantly miss things people say. You struggle to hear quieter voices. Hearing teachers in school was always a huge challenge. I have sadly missed out on learning a ton of information and knowledge throughout my life that can be directly attributed to, well, I didn’t hear it. Better yet, I couldn’t hear it.
Moving into adulthood, the struggles are only enhanced. People expect you to hear them during conversation or in situations where someone with normal hearing would be able to hear, so when you can’t, it often causes frustration or awkward moments. After all, you don’t want to explain to every single person you come in contact with that you have single-sided deafness.
Hearing someone in conversation in a noisy room? Good luck if they are on my right side. I’m either left nodding my head pretending to hear them or cranking my neck around like a crazy person (or if the situation allows, I can slowly maneuver around to the other side).
When I’m going out to dinner with a group or somewhere I have to be seated, I really have to plot the situation to give me the best seat that offers the best chance of being able to hear. Same goes for business meetings.
The list goes on. Basically, if I could sum up being deaf in one ear in three words? It really sucks.
The thing is, I can manage. I’ve done it all my life. But when you add my daughter to the mix? Not so fast.
It’s incredibly scary even thinking about the fact she could potentially have to go through those same struggles. It leaves me sad and emotional.
The love I feel for my daughter is like nothing else in the world. I can’t even begin to fathom having to see her go through what I did with my hearing loss. And I know I shouldn’t do this to myself, but should she be diagnosed, how can I not feel like it’s my fault? It’s all really hard.
At this point, the hearing situation for Elly is still to be determined. Her preliminary hearing test at the hospital went well, but her more advanced once ended as more of a toss up. She didn’t do so well on those tests, but they also said she had built up fluid in her ears which likely was resulting in an inaccurate test.
We’re headed back in three weeks for another round of testing.
I am so scared. She doesn’t deserve to be deaf and I can only hope with every ounce of me that she’s fine. I’ll be completely devastated and heartbroken if she’s not.
No matter the results, I will give everything I have to try and provide for her the best life ever—but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope it’s with two ears of hearing.