Beautiful mother's story

A deaf mother's story
A deaf mother's story

Motherhood is a major learning curve. One minute you're pregnant and the next you're a feeding, swaddling, diapering and soothing expert, discovering an infinite love you have for this new human being. In celebration of Mother's Day we would like to share Erin's story, which gives us a glimpse of what is it like to be a deaf mother raising a baby.

Noah with his mother and father

"Hello, I’m Erin! I was born profoundly deaf and raised by hearing parents. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Upstate New York. In case you didn't know, RIT provides a wide range of technologies and sign language interpreters for deaf and hard-of-hearing students in classroom. I met my husband through a mutual friend at RIT and he is also a profoundly deaf.

We were best friends for the first three years of college and then we fell in love with each other during our senior year. We are happily married for four years this coming September.

I gave birth to our first son and his name is Noah who is currently eight months old. We knew it was the best for me to stay at home to ensure Noah’s care is in a relaxed and nurturing environment. Staying at home has fulfilled my life more than anything else could and it is the most rewarding career ever.

During my pregnancy, we knew we had to be well-equipped with right technology to prepare us as deaf parents to take care of our first baby. We had to do a lot of research to find a suitable vibrating alert device to notify us when the baby needs us. We looked into mobile apps, smart bracelet, smart watch, and any wearable device but none of them gave us enough reliability.

Noah and his mother in a care with a mirror to see the back seat

A friend of mine recommended Graco digital baby monitor with vibrating alerts and it is what we needed to get the job done. We also had to look for a video baby monitor to watch the baby on a handheld tablet computing device when we are in a different room. Finally, we had to buy a rear facing car seat mirror in our vehicle to ensure the baby is ok while we are on the road.

We have a videophone to make phone calls at home and it is a telephone with a video display that allows deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to communicate over video telephone with hearing people in real-time via a sign language interpreter. Communication with my health care provider is invaluable and it is important for us to receive the same result, to receive the same benefit, or to receive the same level of fulfillment from my doctor’s treatment and services as any hearing patient. Before I went to my first prenatal visit at my ob-gyn, I had to make a phone call to the ob-gyn office through a videophone to confirm that they will provide an American Sign Language interpreter. As soon as I arrived at the ob-gyn office for my prenatal appointment, I developed an amazing bond with an interpreter who agreed to be at every prenatal visit.

Noah shortly after birth

On August 20th, I had my first contraction and knew it was time for me to go to the hospital. I called my ob-gyn office to notify them that my contraction started and for them to alert the hospital and to notify the same interpreter to meet us at the hospital. I was so relieved when I saw the same interpreter in the delivery room and she stayed with us through the entire process of labor and delivery. Delivery of baby was mentally agonizing and intensely painful but interpreter was there to assure effective communication between us, nurses, and doctors.

For the next two days at the hospital, I had a several different interpreters on rotating shifts and I am forever grateful for them.

After my son was born, considering the fact that we are deaf parents, he had 50/50 chance of being deaf or hearing baby. Nurses took our son to a different room for a newborn hearing screen test and nurse came back to my room to share the news. Nurse said, “I have such great news, your son passed the hearing test!”

Noah being kissed by his mother

I looked at her with a puzzled look and asked why it was good news. Nurse was baffled and I explained to her that it doesn’t matter if he passed the hearing test and as long as he is healthy then that’s all it matters.

We use American Sign Language as a primary language to communicate with our baby since the day he was born. Noah started to pick up quickly on what we were signing to him. We read books to him in sign language on daily basis. He looks at the picture in the book and then looks at our sign then back to the book. I noticed that he started to understand what we were signing to him when he was about four to six months old. Noah’s first sign was “daddy” when he was 29 weeks old and it was very exciting time for both of us. The other day, Noah signed “finish” after he finished his meal. It melted our hearts when he started to expressing himself to us in sign language.
Noah reading a book Noah and his mother with a camera

Naturally, we are concerned about his possible lack of speech development. We agreed to take Noah to local library, once to twice a week, for story time and musical activities with other hearing kids. Also, I rent some children’s audio books from the library for him to listen on daily basis. Noah absolutely loves listening to classical music, actually we played classical music while he was in my womb, and his favorite composers are Bach and Mozart. My husband and I meet with our deaf friends once every month for some adult time so Noah can interact with their kids. We strongly believe that it is important for us to expose our son to both hearing and deaf worlds.
Noah in a Polar Bear Charlie Banana Reusable Diaper Noah laying on a sheet in a Charlie Banana Reusable Cloth Diaper

We are trying to raise Noah just like everyone else, but the fact that we use an American Sign Language to communicate with him, adds unique challenges. There were a few times, maybe too often, that we forgot to charge our Graco digital baby monitor so we had to take turns to stay awake at night to check on Noah via video baby monitor while the Graco digital baby monitor is being charged. Or when we are on the road at night time, it is pretty difficult for us to see rear facing car seat mirror so we have to turn on the lights in the vehicle to check on Noah. Otherwise, we wouldn’t know if he cries or sleeps during the trip. When we go for walk in the park, one of us has to take turns to walk in the front of the stroller to check on Noah. Those are minor things, but they are very important to ensure our son’s safety.

Noah in a Goodby disposable Hello cloth Charlie Banana Reusable Cloth Diaper

Noah pushing a toy in a blue Charlie Banana Reusable Cloth Diaper

We were about to settle on disposable diapers but until my husband introduced me to cloth diaper world. At first, I was skeptical about it because wringing out diapers in the toilet and endless loads of laundry had no appeal to me! My husband took the time to show me a bunch of videos of how cloth diaper works and a few of them were from Charlie Banana® on YouTube.
Noah crawling around his stash of Charlie Banana Reusable Cloth Diapers

After watching countless videos online, I was completely hooked with the idea of saving the environment and saving money. I hated to think of the nonbiodegradable diapers sitting in a landfill for hundreds of years. In case you didn’t know, there is a LOT of chemicals in traditional disposable diapers!

For my 8 month old, I can put double inserts in his cloth diaper and he can go all night without it leaking and without it irritating his skin. I absolutely LOVE Charlie Banana® cloth diapers and, not just me, my son loves it too!"

Happy Mother's Day!

Charlie Banana® team