Maladaptive Practices

Tears, I hide my face under the blanket, don’t want Fiona to know I’m crying. We are laying in bed, Sunday afternoon.  We rarely, if ever do this. Maybe that’s a mistake. Alan and Jack are watching T.V. in the living room. I’m going to read Fiona some books, she’s not feeling well today. The tears came out when I have a flash in my mind of putting Fiona on the bus in the morning. I think of the bus drivers face and smile and laugh as we talk about gardens and kids and politics. A moment in time, that almost stops as I strap Fiona into her seat on the bus. I am crying because this school year is almost over, Pre-K. The bus will come one last time in the near future. I won’t have my morning chat or my sweet delicious hug from my daughter, as I say, “I love you, have a good day, I’ll see you soon”. I cry because this has been such a perfect school year, even with the stress, that’s unfortunately brought me one step closer to my end, even with my healthy life style, the stress has gotten to me.  I cry because of this, time is moving by so quickly and I don’t know how long I will have. My Mom’s death haunts me as I get blood tests back that reveal I am exactly like her even though I fight so hard not to be. I want to live longer, I don’t want to die when my kids are teenagers. All these things go through my mind, making me sad, making me cry, wasting time, precious time.

Time that looked infinite the day Jack and Fiona were born. So tiny, so much life ahead of them. The nurse came in, I can’t remember how long after the birth, maybe hours? Maybe the next day? It was after the Newborn Hearing Test. Fiona didn’t pass the test, the nurses told me, with what seemed to be both sadness and optimism in the way they continually delivered the message.  Alan and I didn’t know what that meant. I can’t remember hearing the word Deaf. We didn’t care, we had two precious newborn babies, alive, hearts beating fast. I looked at Fiona’s face, her little nose, eyes, her tiny ears, I didn’t think about what Fiona could hear, if she could hear our voices, I didn’t see the failed test as a imperfection. Fiona was perfect to me. The following days in the hospital the nurses repeated the hearing screening several times. The nurse would come in to retrieve our baby girl, wrap her in a soft blanket, and take Fiona to repeat the test. The nurse would come back and say their machine must be broken. It was as if the nurse didn’t want to believe that this perfect little baby was born different. That her perfect little baby ears were, possibly, not working like her brother Jack’s were.  The test came back saying the left ear was inconclusive.  But the day before it said she couldn’t hear, so there must be something wrong with the test, there must be something wrong with the machine. This was the narrative I left the hospital with. I held Fiona close, I didn’t care about the test.

Last night at dinner Jack stood in front of our sign language ABC chart. He practiced the alphabet in sign, quietly, gracefully. Fiona has acquired a few “Maladaptive strategies”. One is called using someone else as a human hearing aid. This is shunned, considered a bad habit that children with hearing loss start doing. This morning I called to Jack in the kitchen to tell Fiona she needed to get dressed, that the bus was here. I was finishing up exercising. I do this all the time when I’m in another room and need to tell Fiona something, I tell Jack to tell Fiona. I heard Fiona ask Jack this morning about a show they were watching, and Jack told her what they had said on the show. I started thinking yesterday, maybe Jack and Fiona should be in the same class in Kindergarten? I was afraid she would depend on him too much, copy him. Now I wonder if instead, Jack could act as her interpreter? There will be many times throughout the day Fiona will miss stuff, especially transitions from one activity to the next or when its loud and chaotic, which a Kindergarten class must be? Would it be so bad for Fiona to have her brother to give her gentle cues? I don’t know. I don’t know much. I just know that things are transitioning right now all around. My children, my body, it’s all happening at once.

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Thoughts on Motherhood Through the Eyes of an Artist