Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Deaf vs. Hearing: Don't Judge me and I won't Judge You

Within the first 24 hours of Riley's life we found out she was deaf. Well, that's not 100% true. Riley failed her newborn hearing test twice and had to go to the ENT for more testing. If you have been following this blog, October 31, 2012 we found out for sure our baby couldn't hear. She was profoundly deaf in one ear and severe in the other.

There was a small window of time when I was in shock. I didn't understand how this happened. I didn't know what to do or where to even begin. Josh and I were in complete and utter sadness. Once that initial shock wore off, we got to work.

Cochlear implants were never even a "should we" discussion. We found out that our deaf daughter would have access to sound and could have the opportunity to develop spoken language; that was really all we needed to know. I don't think there was once where we wondered if we were making the right decision. We still don't have any regrets.

With Nyle DiMarco (Dancing with the Stars) coming into the picture and being a deaf celebrity with a huge advocacy for ASL, the war on deaf vs. hearing continues. I have seen so many articles on social media about the Deaf community and their view of cochlear implants. I don't judge any parents for not getting their children cochlear implants so why do they judge me? There hasn't been one time where I think of DiMarco and wonder why he never got CI's. I am amazed by his ability to sense sound through his body movements and appreciate the work he has put into making his life successful. However, we put in work too.

I something think learn ASL would have been easier than the therapy we do with Riley. We choose AVT ( Auditory Verbal Therapy) which concentrates on auditory (listening) and verbal (spoken language) to learn to listen and speak. Every morning I do a Ling check with her; if you're a parent of a hearing child you probably don't even know what that is. We talk, ALOT in our house. We wait. We wait for Riley to produce sound to tell me what she wants or need. She can't point, she can't wine, she must use her words at all times. She gets frustrated.  Usually about one time a day we have a breakdown of communication and someone ends up in a tantrum; sometimes that person is me.

Riley is coming up on her 3 year hearing birthday and still behind. We continue to advocate for her with the school systems and community resources. Riley is deaf (period). Some of the deaf culture doesn't think of being deaf as a disability, but more as an identity. Below is the definition of disability.

Disability is the consequence of an impairment that may be physical, cognitive, intellectual, mental, sensory, developmental, or some combination of these that results in restrictions on an individual's ability to participate in what is considered "normal" in their everyday society.

Based on this definition, do you think deafness is a disability? Hearing loss is classified as the #1 birth defect in America. I don't want to cause any problems with the war on deaf vs. hearing, but being born deaf is considered a disability in American society. 1% of Americans can use ASL and ASL is the sixth spoken language in America. More people know Spanish and German than ASL. Currently Riley is stuck between a deaf community and a hearing couture. She doesn't hear like we hear. Listening doesn't come easy for her. When Riley doesn't have her CI's on, she can't hear anything. Nothing.

I don't really care what your language of choice is. I don't wonder what went through your mind on making decisions. We chose not to use sign language with Riley. If you ask me one month, the next month it's going to be the same. One day, Riley might want to learn sign language and I am fine with that. If she is up to her language goals and has a good grasp on spoken language, the world is her oyster. She can do anything she wants!  That's what parents do.

My job is to make decisions for her now, as her parent. Parenting is not easy and sometime you have to make decisions that society doesn't always agree with. I felt (and still feel) like I wanted to do whatever I could to give her all the opportunity in the world. If she was born without sight, I would research any technology to make it easier on her. If she was born without limbs, I would research and get any medical enhancements I could to make her life easier. I'm a mom; that's what we do. You consider your values and beliefs (whether spiritual or religious) and make a sound decision that is best for YOUR family. I don't judge you for your decisions so don't judge me for mine.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

25 Things May Not Know About Your Mommy....

 Here goes nothing....

  1. My favorite color is red.
  2. I like to listen to music in the car REALLY loud. You probably already know this though.
  3. I don't wear shorts. Even to bed.
  4. I don't use a flat sheet on our bed because I absolutely hate making the bed. I see no point.
  5. I have never mowed grass.
  6. I eat peanut butter every day. Every single day.
  7. I love wine. You will soon find out.
  8. I have very thick skin but care deeply what people think.
  9. I regret not playing sports in high school.
  10. It took me five years to complete my undergrad.
  11. I love fruit- especially watermelon.
  12. I try to drink two gallons of water a day.
  13. I can't stand flowers. If you want to win my heart use chocolate. I will always fold for chocolate.
  14. Garth Brooks was my first concert.
  15. I need eight hours of sleep to function properly.
  16. I can't do math. I hope one of you are really good at math in high school because you won't find me much help. I got you when it comes to English.
  17. My favorite meal is breakfast. I never skip breakfast. Ever.
  18. I love wearing heels. I know, weird.
  19. I had my gallbladder taken out in grad school.
  20. I have no directional sense. Please never use words like east when telling me how to get somewhere
  21. I love a good gel manicure.
  22. Sharks are my worse fear.
  23. I love the first glass of milk. Every time I buy milk I like to drink the first glass right away.
  24. I have never broken a bone.
  25. My favorite movie is Legally Blonde.
Some of these things you will soon find out; others, like my obsession with cheese and my fear of the ocean will be things that you will soon love about me!

Love Mom

Thursday, May 5, 2016

If I'm not here when you read this....

To My Girls,

I don't think a day goes by that I don't hear on the radio, news or social media that a mom was taken from her children in the blink of an eye; or maybe even over time. I like to think I will be around forever, like immortal, but what if I'm not?

If I'm still around by the time you read this blog, probably around 16 or so, you will either hate my guts because I wouldn't let you spend the night at a boy girl sleepover, or we are like best friends. I like to think I will be around for both of these situations but If I'm not, I wanted to give you some advice for your future. I'm not the best at everything. I don't know everything there is about success, marriage, children and careers, but I know enough to keep give you a little piece of your mom that you will have forever. Here goes:

  1. Character is who you are when know one is looking. Character is something you want and need in your life. Character makes you succeed.
  2. Ask lots of questions. Never EVER assume anything. Asking questions will get your answers quicker and will make any process shorter.
  3. Take care of your teeth. Like forever. Always brush, floss, or whatever your dentist wants you to do. Do it. You will thank me later.
  4. Friendship is so important. To have good friends, you must be a good friend. Being a good friend means putting someone else before you in certain situations. Caring about other people enough to not be envious, to be supportive even when you don't want to and having someone to talk to in the silent if you had to. Your friends will be there throughout your whole life- they are great at holding your hair also.
  5. Plans will get broken; live with it. Don't be so inflexible that you can't function without everything being planned out. I had my whole college, getting married, having a kid thing planed out and none of it turned out how I thought. Move on.
  6. Forgive. Forgiving is more about you than the other person. I always say "time heals, give time time". Forgive for you, not for the other person.
  7. Choose a career that makes you happy. I absolutely love working in higher education and it shows. You won't love everyday but you will spend most of your time working when you are an adult; make it enjoyable.
  8. Negativity is contagious. so it positivity. Be positive. Happiness is really a choose. Plain and simple.
  9. Be free. You live in America and that is a privilege. You can be anything you want to be and do anything you want in this country. Exercise your right to vote; freedom wasn't free.
  10. It's okay if you are different than everyone else. Don't feel like you have to fit in with everyone and do things that you know go against your values. Different is beautiful.
  11. Stay close to you sister. Having a sibling is such a gift. Stay close to each other because in the end, you will always have each other to lean on.
  12. Your education is important. This doesn't mean you have to take the same road as me, or your father. It just means to read up on things, educate yourself. Keep growing and gave the urge to be a better person.
  13. Love you more. I know that sounds totally selfish but it is probably the most important one on this list. No matter how much you love your husband, your partner, your kids or anything; love you more. You can't let yourself go and always put people ahead of you. You will soon loose yourself and then others will loose you soon after. Trust me.
  14. Drink lots of water. What you put in your body matters. Enough said.
  15. No matter what the situation: Get up, dress up, and show up. I heard this quote from a good friend when I worked at Ball State and it has gotten me through the toughest of situations. Don't let the situation take over your life. Take a day if you need, but the next day; GET UP, DRESS UP, AND SHOW UP.
There are so many things I could put on this list, but for time sake and typing, know this: God put you in our family because you belong there. He made you who you are because he loves you. There are no accidents, no coincidences. Everything is supposed to happen the way it does. Always remember that.

Love- mom

Monday, May 2, 2016

To Emerson- On her Second Birthday

Dear Emerson Marie,

It's crazy to think that two years have gone by already. Just yesterday we were in the hospital loving on my little baby- now you're toddler. The last two years you have brought so much joy to our lives; I'm so happy the God chose me to be your mom.

As I have said in the first birthday letter, you are the best gift that I your father and I could have given our family. The way Riley loves you and protects you makes my heart melt. The sister bond you both share was inevitable from the start.

Sometimes I look at you and wonder how this sweet, dimple faced, bright smiled girl is my daughter. You have a way of lighting up the room when you walk in. You have an innocence about you that makes even the greyest of days go away. You love life.

Sleeping and eating are still your favorite. You will run a mile for food if you had to. You don't love vegetables but you make up in gold fish what you lack in veggies. You love your Eeyore; you won't go anywhere without him. He is your best friend (besides your sister).

Since you have turned two, you have started climbing out of your crib, you have your own objections to things and want what you want. You love to go on the potty (with your diaper on) because that's what your big sister does.

I can't really think of many things you don't like because you are such a easy going, happy kid. I never have to use the same tough love that I use on Riley with you; you feel horrible when you do something wrong. It melts my heart to see you cry.

You are a total daddy's girl but love to hang with mommy when she is putting on her make up and doing her hair. I hope our bond continues to grow as you get older; I know that you will be my girly girl that loves dance, tutus, dress up and more. I can't wait for the days we go shopping and you talk about all your friends and boy troubles.

Our lives have changed over the past two years: We moved to Ohio, your uncle Corey got married to aunt Cassidy and now you are going to have a baby cousin Braxton. Life goes fast and  sometimes you get lost in the mix of Riley's therapy and mom's crazy schedule but always remember Baby girl, you are the light in our family that shined and made us whole. I will forever remember the feeling you gave me during your first year of life that no one could ever replace.

I love you to the moon and back. I love you more then Netflix; more then bananas and peanut butter and more then Panera coffee.

Love, Mom