We’ve been praying for a different outcome, but God seems to have another plan in mind. I know He won’t give me more than I can handle, but today was hard.
There’s a series of responses that occurs upon hearing the words, “Your daughter suffers from permanent hearing loss that is worsening.” First is utter devastation. You can’t compose yourself. After all the heartache of having her in the NICU for 7 weeks and the fear that it entailed, you’d hoped that there would be no further issues. You cry. A lot.
The second phase is false hope and denial. Maybe the doctors are wrong. Maybe there’s fluid in her ears. Maybe the canals are just too small to get a good reading. Maybe… I actually took it upon myself to conduct my own test after I was convinced the doctor’s tests were wrong – mine was super sophisticated. It involved a frying pan and a metal spatula.
False hope generally leads back to devastation. She’ll never hear my voice. She has to go through life as different. She has such a hard road ahead. We have such a hard road ahead. She’ll never know what the Beatles sound like, or Elvis. Or Otis Redding. She won’t hear Hard Candy Christmas every year and remember dancing to it with her mother.
After that step, you have to bite the bullet and tell family. That leads to this weird numbness. You spend those days not hungry and just wanting to sleep. Several times you imagine that this is a bad dream that you’re going to wake up from. So, you sleep more, in hopes that the nightmare will end.
Guilt is the next step. I wanted a child so badly that I chose to pursue IVF. I did this to her. My body couldn’t handle pregnancy, and caused me to have an emergency c-section. I brought this tiny baby into the world and forced her to do it without hearing.
After guilt comes anger. Why did this happen to me?? The hospital did this. I contracted the flu while there and took a turn for the worst, resulting in an emergency c-section. They gave my baby antibiotics that might have caused this (according to Google). They never warned me that this might happen.
Working your way through anger, you exhaust all options: audiologist tests, ENT appts & tube surgery, hoping in vain that the tubes will miraculously remove fluid and result in her being able to hear. When the audiologist enters after surgery to tell you that, not only did the surgery not help, but her hearing has actually worsened, you cry again for a bit (wishing you’d never gotten your hopes up a second time).
Finally, after circling this field for what seems like an eternity, you resurface and stumble upon the last phase, which is real hope. The hope that you will provide the most wonderful life this little thing can possibly experience. The hope that you will learn sign language and that your daughter will experience life to the fullest, with two parents who can communicate with her effectively. The hope that she will inspire others to do the same. And, the hope that you will move past this experience and learn to measure your life by the extent to which you’ve been given, not others.
In the end, you enter acceptance. The road we’ve been given to walk is not paved. But beauty can be found in the broken, rocky places. And no matter the road we’ve been given, our only option is to keep walking and find out where it leads.