Then the emotions hit. According to the Kubler-Ross model I should be undergoing denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I seem to be making up my own stages as I handle my son and his hearing loss. I never went through denial or bargaining. The doctors showed me the results from four different tests and I can't argue with scientific proof. There is a small part of me that says "are you sure?" But the larger part of me wants to take action, it says "what do I need to do?"
Instead I go through anger, blame, guilt, frustration, and acceptance.
Anger - I'm angry with the doctors for not listening to me sooner. I was the one who initiated contact with an audiologist, no thanks to my pediatrician. I am angry with the health department and their not-accurate hearing test. Fluid on the ears?! HA!
Blame - this is the hardest one for me. I blame the doctor (see anger). I blame my husband, maybe he shouldn't have tickled our son so hard, thrown him up in the air, wrestled with him, the list goes on. As time goes on I blame him for working while I handle the doctors, insurance reps, babysitters, and therapy. It's a silly blame, but I often feel so alone in this. But mostly, I blame myself. Was there something I should have done differently? I had a rather perfect pregnancy, but maybe I should have drank more water, refrained from having that corn dog, been more careful about heating up my deli meat. Then there is the whole issue of the labor and delivery. Did his hearing loss occur after being in labor for 28 plus hours and pushing for two? Should we have opted for a c-section sooner? I can't bare to think about it. Or was it when my milk supply started to dry up and I didn't know it, not until he started losing weight? So many things go through my head. The geneticist reassures me that unless I was abusing drugs or alcohol or deathly ill during pregnancy, there was absolutely nothing I could have done differently.
Guilt - you would think the guilt would come from the blame, but this guilt hits me on my blindside. My son has only mild permanent hearing loss, as I start to talk to other families I realize their child's hearing loss is much more severe. They are going in for surgeries and wearing cochlear implants. I suddenly feel guilty for taking this so hard, for stressing out over the day-to-day maintenance of it all. It could be so much worse, who am I to complain?
Frustration - this one is much more complicated. It's the every day routine we are now in. It's the struggle to keep a two year old from pulling out his hearing aids, of searching the store for size 13 batteries, of cleaning and maintaining the hearing aids. It's the hours I now spend in the car as I take my husband to work, my daughter to the babysitter, my son to therapy, home from therapy, pick up our daughter, pick up my husband. How do I know when my son is being a two-year old and ignoring me or simply can not hear me? It's the application of the newest technique they've taught me at therapy, the phone call from his mother's day out when they can't get his hearing aids back in, the exhaustion of it all. It's the opinions I get from all sides of what I should or should not be doing. Sign language or no sign language? It's the realization that grandparents now seem to be afraid to take the kids for the weekend because the hearing aids intimidate them. But mostly, it's the frustration that both my son and I receive when communication fails. I can't understand him and he can't make himself understood.
Some days are rough. My husband comes home from work and takes over the bedtime routine. I curl up in bed, hiding from the stress that threatens to crush me. My husband comes in and holds me till it passes. He somehow transfers some of his strength to me. With a good night's rest, I will be as good as new to handle a new day.
Acceptance - it comes little by little as we fall into a routine. The hearing aids are staying on more often than not, his speech is progressing slowly, and we are making progress. I am learning as I go and have quickly learned to take it one day at a time. Line upon line, precept upon precept. I turn to the Lord in my thoughts and prayers more often. Our son will never remember a life without hearing aids and for him it will become second nature. I hope that one day soon it will become second nature for me as well.