I was folding laundry the other day. As I was separating the sock from the woolen scarf, I heard this crackling noise. I froze, looked around, a bit confused (because I hadn’t heard that sound before) and continued on. I finished separating the two and heard that sound again. Could it be? The crackling sound was coming from the sock and scarf???? I did again slowly, the sound got slower and then I did again faster, the sound got faster. Aha! Mystery solved~ static does make a noise! But, goodness, it sounds a little loud. How could I not have heard that before? Anyway, just a little reminder to self that there are probably still many more sounds that I’ve never heard before
I’ve got a round plump belly now. Thirty-one weeks pregnant with who knows what s/he is. It’s all going to be a lovely surprise. I’m sure not only will having a baby this time around be so different with my new family and all~ but the sounds will also be different. I had two behind the ear hearing aids with my first child and now two cochlear implants with this new one. And, already there are some things that sound a bit different.
Each time I visit the doctor, she checks for the baby’s heartbeat. I can hear the fuzzy sound the heartbeat monitor makes as it looks for the baby. The minute it finds the baby, it’s such a strong, healthy sound. Boom boom boom boom. 155 beats per minute. So clear. It makes me so proud as a mother. With my first, I did hear her heartbeat but it wasn’t nearly as clear or as strong so I didn’t get that glowing pride.
I can’t help but wonder how much difference the sounds will be between the two babies. I know with my first, I didn’t get stressed when she would scream~ the sounds didn’t pierce through my soul (research shows that a mother’s blood pressure spikes up really high when her baby cries). I really can’t think of any other examples right now because I probably haven’t experienced them yet. Only time will tell.
I gave myself a rare treat of a latte at Starbuck’s~ and I went in unaided (get it? No hearing aids There was a lot going on there. I can almost hear the clanging of the coffee pressers, noise of the steam, people ordering~ and so on.
I ordered my drink in silence. I know I have the tendency to talk really loudly when I don’t have my processors on~ I feel the need to feel the vibrations in my chest when I can’t hear myself at all~ if I talk softly, I can’t feel the vibration~ whereas if I talk loudly, I can feel it reverberating all over my chest~ and that is the feeling I like to have. So, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was shouting~ because I certainly was feeling the vibrations.
I stood near the pick up table to know when my drink is ready~ as I was waiting, one of the baristas suddenly looked at me and said, “Do you go to a Zumba class at 24 Hour Fitness?” Because, I was watching so intensely, I was able to catch someone talking to me~ and I responded back to her. She and I had a little chat about the class~ meanwhile, I wondered if I sounded different~ and then another worker asked me, “YOu go to 24 Hour Fitness? Oh, have you tried the yoga class? I just looooove it….” Then I found myself conversing with two other people solely by reading their lips. I found the whole thing somewhat funny~ and somewhat secretive~ they had NO idea that I couldn’t hear a word, let alone, I was reading their lips the whole time. For some reason, I found the whole situation quite funny.
I have this big, brown comfy couch in my mediation room. That room is super clean, super quiet and super peaceful. It’s got a sliding door that faces the backyard where you can see birds hopping, squirrels skittering and bees aflying. Not too long ago, I was lying on the couch listening to many different kinds of tweeting from the birds. It really is sweet that I know now that it’s possible to tell what kind of bird it is just by their singing~ although, I’m not able to name them yet. Nevertheless, the sounds of bird brought a funny memory for me.
You see, in this photo is one of my closest friend, Julia.
Julia is a total bird lover. You can be having the most philosophical conversation with her, and then, suddenly her eyes will thwart upwards to look at the birds. Birds do that to her~ make her freeze mid-sentence anytime she hears a tweet~ and then she’ll name that bird as if her long time friend.
She’s also my brave traveling partner~ we’ve traveled to many places that people wouldn’t dare to tread on.
We were on the beach in Costa Rica~ and I didn’t have my hearing processors on and talking to her through lip-reading. Of course, through one of our conversations, she stopped mid-sentence to look up and pointed at some large birds~ she seemed so excited, “Look, they’re friggin’ birds!” I thought that was such a weird thing to say so I repeated after her to get clarification, “Friggin’ birds?” Oh how, she laughed~ those birds are called “frigate birds”. It’s so easy to misunderstand words when you’re only lip-reading.
On another trip, in Panama, we went hiking up a very steep hill that was overrun with wild, yet beautiful green plantation to look for a coffee shop. Along the way, there were many sounds~ but they all seemed to be one big sound and I wasn’t aware that they were really many different sounds happening at the same time. We did eventually find the coffee shop~ and there was a sign that said to go back in the opposite direction we had come from and look for red tree frogs. They would be by a tree. Well, there were many trees and these frogs are so small, you wouldn’t really notice them just by walking. I asked Julia how we were supposed to find these frogs~ she explained that you have to listen for them. I asked further by finding out what they sound like. She made the sound, “Brrup, brrup, brrup…” A few steps later, I was able to recognize the sound~ and I stopped to squat down. Sure enough, there it was!!! My first time ever finding something by sound! It was an awesome, awesome feeling~ especially because I found it before her.
Then, I had a deeper realization~ what if this blob of a sound has more to it? I asked Julia to tell me all the sounds that were happening at that moment. You could see the look of concentration on her face, “That’s the wind….that’s the leaves moving…that’s the horses neighing…that’s the ocean…” As she would point out one sound at a time, I was then able to slow take the one sound apart into many different components. It was a pretty powerful moment~ a sudden realization that all these years, it was never a blob of one sound. That new awareness has opened my eyes (or ears) to a whole new level of life~ this would be the blessing of hearing noises.
My child is the one who has had to make many new adaptations all through her young life.
First, somehow, she figured out that she would have to raise her voice to get my attention. When she was a baby, a friend noticed that this is what baby Elyza would do while in the other room: ”ma…(wait)…Ma, Ma….(wait some more) MAAA, MAAA…” It would by the third call that I would respond to.
I don’t ever recall having to tell her to look at me so I could read her lips.
When I got my first cochlear implant, I remember the when she first called for me, “MOMMY!” It was so shockingly loud. It was so loud~ I once described it as feeling like a cat with that terror frozen look with furs sticking straight up. I had loss so much hearing by the time she was two (I hadn’t even known that I lost my hearing~ it happened gradually). I remember telling myself to remain calm and explained to my sweet, little child, “Mommy has a new kind of hearing where you won’t have yell out my name anymore.”
Now that I have two working ears (well, not quite working, but ears that work with the help of processors), I find myself becoming so aware of how my child sounds. I can some of her sassiness, her gosh-you’re-really-gonna-ask-me- that tone, her sweetness of love, her tone of kindness and gentle, ever so gentle voice. However, I have often mistaken a sassy tone for one that really wasn’t as well~ poor kid. She now speaks in a soft tone, doesn’t shout out my name, unless she’s in a different part of the house.
I’ve noticed that she’ll tap me gently on the arm when she wants my attention, instead of calling my name when we are right next to each other. That must have been one of her accommodation that she used to get my attention in my past hearing life. I asked her why she does that~ and she didn’t have an answer other than, “I didn’t realize that I was doing that. I guess it’s a habit.” Whether or not I need the tapping, I love those warm little fingers on my arm~ I think that’s a habit I will not ask her to change.
It must have been quite a ride for my child~ one from when her mother had behind the ear hearing aids, to losing almost all her hearing, to getting one cochlear implant to finally getting two.
Anyone have any questions they would like to ask her about having mum with a hearing loss?
Part of my job is to teach struggling readers how to read~ often these readers lack fluency and expression. One of my favorite thing to do is model the reading and have them repeat after me. I tend to be very dramatic anyway~ so I will read in a very eXpResSIve way~ I believe that the more dramatic you are in reading, the more the children will pay attention and will catch on. This is one of those moments that I truly love having two hearing~ it brings on such a smile when I hear the students repeat exactly the way I read a line. I love it because it sounds so melodramatic and cute~ the pitch of voices go up a bit when there’s a question mark; stretch those words when necessary; get a little loud with excitement when those awesome exclamation point comes along. I make them all feel so proud of themselves and encourage them all to become actors and actresses. You should see their faces beam with pride!
“Shhhhh…..you’re being too loud,” was a common response when I’d try to whisper.
“But, how can I be too loud? I’m whispering,” I would ask dumbfounded. Everyone around me would give me “the look” to be quiet.
How confusing~ everyone whispers and they don’t get in trouble~ and others don’t seem to hear them. Yet, when I whisper~ the whole world could hear me~ and I would feel as if were singled out. No secrets.
That was when I wore behind the ear hearing aids. I could never hear a person whisper, ever~ and yet, when I would try, I needed to feel the vibration in my body as I would try to whisper. apparently, that is too loud. But, if I didn’t feel that vibration, people would tilt their head towards me and ask me to repeat myself because they couldn’t hear me. It was a damn if I do, damn if I don’t situation. Talk about annoying. If only they could read lips where there are NO sounds at all~ and it’s so much easier~ AND, it’s a great way to communicate without having the person nearby hear parts of your secret.
It wasn’t until I had two cochlear implants that I heard a whisper for the first time. The first time was, shall I say, magical? Awe-struck? It was pretty early on in our relationship when I believe, Dan, accidentally whispered in my ears, “I love you.” When I first heard that, I froze somewhat, “Did I really just hear that? Naw. I don’t hear whispers.” I doubted myself~ what I heard. But, it was so clearly enunciated. Since, it was what I believed something that slipped out, something he hadn’t meant to say, and he acted if nothing happened, I didn’t want to embarrass him by saying, “Did you really say what I think I just heard?” So, I let it go. I asked him recently~ and of course, he doesn’t remember the first time he told me (or whispered) that he loved me. But, the first time hearing whispers of loving words is not something to forget.
Besides, being enthralled with my first whisper~ I find it fascinating. A blessing and a curse.
A blessing because I can now hear it and is now another way to communicate on the spot and quickly. It helps me at my team meetings that we have weekly, “Did they just say what I think I heard?” I get an immediate reply and I’m not interrupting people or asking them to repeat what was said. Even better, my whispers are not so loud anymore~ I can hear myself very well. Although, I do worry that it may be too loud~ I still don’t know what the appropriate volume is so I rely on facial expressions from people. Actions say a lot without ever having to speak.
But, you know what? The whispers don’t sound very quiet to me. They sound rather loud. I may be at a staff meeting and someone would whisper something to another colleague~ and I’m so sure that the person from another table can hear. I’m always a bit horrified with how rude the whisperer is~ yet, when I look over, there doesn’t seem to be a response from the other table, which means, he or she didn’t hear anything. How is that possible~ when I clearly heard it without having to strain my ears. I also find it disruptive when I trying to listen to something else~ I can’t filter out that sound~ I so badly want to turn to that whisper and give him/her “the look” to quiet down. This is the curse. I can’t block it out when I need it to.
Do you have memories of someone whispering something beautiful to you? Or, is it mostly bothersome?