by Virginia Urquieta Manzo
I am a mom of a deaf 5 year old and his name is Anthony. How did I feel when the audiologist told me that my only child is deaf? Well I felt a lot of mix feelings and different thoughts went through my head. I felt sadness, frustration, depression, loneliness, and scared. Then I started asking myself, ‘How is he going to talk? What’s going to happen to him when he gets older? People are going to make fun of him. Will he be able to get a job? Is he going to be fine in school? Are hearing aids good? Is the Cochlear Implant the best option?’ Honestly I did not know what to do.
There was a time when I thought the Cochlear Implant was the best option for my son but it wasn’t. My mom was very upset because her only grandson is deaf and so I opted for the Cochlear Implant to make her happy. Later I thought about it really good and I thought to myself, ‘Is this what I want for Anthony? What if I decide to put him through the surgery and something goes wrong?’ I felt like I was doing something that I really did not agree with just to make my mom happy. So I decided to sit and talk to my mom about it. I told her how I felt and that I had cancelled the surgery for Anthony. I told her he was not going to get the implant and that he was fine. Whether she liked it or not he is my son and that I was sorry. He will just adjust to his hearing aids. My mom shook her head and told me that she hoped that I made the right decision and that I wouldn’t regret it later on because this was the only way Anthony will hear and talk.
I felt so alone in this world because my parents didn’t understand and support me. They did not know how I felt at that time. I wanted to talk to someone and a shoulder to cry on. Anthony’s dad was not living with us at that time, so I felt I had not support from him either. I spent a year in denial. Always blaming myself and asking, ‘Why me? What did I do wrong?’ I always felt so depressed and I cried every night holding my baby and asking him to forgive me for being so a bad mother. I did not know I was wasting my time by not learning ASL and being more involved. I was not on the right track of understanding and scared of facing reality. I told myself many times, ‘My baby is not deaf. The doctors are wrong. They know nothing. I am his mother therefore I know he can hear me. I was so closed minded that I would do my own home tests on Anthony. I would turn up the radio as loud as it went and I would make all kinds of loud noises when he was asleep and I would see no response from him.
Then one day I woke up and told myself it was enough with the crying and the blaming myself. My son needs me and I need to be strong, learn and support my son all the way. The first step I took was calling a wonderful lady with 3 deaf sons. She told me her story and all the struggles she went through and it shocked me to hear and meet another parent with deaf kids too. Just what I really needed to hear. I was not alone anymore. I felt a huge relief. She invited me to come to her home and meet her family and other families too. When I saw the parents with their deaf kids I knew then I was not the only one with a deaf child. I felt so happy to be around people who understood and felt what I was feeling.
Sitting there and listening to their stories made me realize that being deaf or having a deaf child is not a bad thing. It’s the most wonderful gift that God can give you and to come to this conclusion I needed to meet the right people. I have learned so much from them and have received a lot of support too. I am thankful to them because they took the time to teach me how important it is to be involved and be a part in my son’s life.
Now my husband and I are learning ASL every Wednesday at the Sanchez home. I feel so much calmer and happier knowing that I am not alone and that there are people and resources that help. Now I can communicate with my son and my goal is to be 100% fluent in ASL. I want him to feel proud of his momma because it’s hard to raise a deaf child but it’s easier if you know how to communicate with them.