Thank you so much to everyone for your honest comments and for sharing heart-wrenchingly personal experiences here. This post is dedicated to Sofia Madyson, my hearing 5 year old drama queen of a curly-haired, independent daughter. She could never have known what awaited her when she was born into this f'in crazy family:).
A couple of days ago I was sitting outside of the Bar Stiacciole (bar is not pub, it's cafè) waiting for my friend to talk. A seventy year old man walks out of the bar looks at me, keeps walking, then suddenly turns around and walks back towards me. He looks me in the eyes, and says, "Buongiorno!" (Good morning!)I look him square in the eyes and reply, "Buongiorno!" (thinking...what the hell does this old man want?)Then, he smiles and says, "Le belle donne vanno sempre salutate." (One must always say hello to a beautiful woman.)I'm like, bring it on old man! So, I shyly smile and said, "You have a great day." He turns on his heels and goes about his life. You just never know how you can make a person's life with one nice word.
As I glowed and started thinking, hell yeah, I am ALL that, Sonia arrived and sat down. Her daughter Federica is in the same class as Sofia (her son is Jordan's best friend) and she proceeded to tell me the following: "Jodi, Sofia told Federica that she has a cochlear implant because she is deaf." News flash: my hearing daughter is now deaf. She then told me that Federica really thinks that Sofia is deaf because whenever she tries to talk to Sofia, Sofia says, "Eh, Eh, I can't hear you, what did you say?" Sonia knows I've been so busy with the book and blogging and that my world is revolving around the whole deafness issue right now. She also knows that I have my iPod in my ears 24/7 and that I am so totally in my own head. She was basically laughing at me.
What she didn't know was that the other day, Sofia walked upstairs and asked me to fix her cochlear implant (processor)because it was falling out of her ear. She handed me this pink Barbie behind the ear telephone attachment toy thingie to put back around her ear. She said, "Mom, I'm deaf." I said, "Sofia, do you know what deaf means?" She said, "It means I need a ci to hear." I said, "No,Jordan's ci helps him to hear, but without his ci, he can't hear sounds...his ears don't work like yours. For example in the morning when he wakes up and you both go and watch tv, you always go to get Jordan his processor because you know he needs that to hear the television." She looked at me and said, "Is he blind, too?"
Choosing to have another child when your first child is born deaf is exactly that, a choice. When you love your child unconditionally, the choice in the whole process vanishes and you just get down to business to create that new baby. Driving in my car with Jordan in his carseat, I always felt that there was a body missing in that other passenger seat. That empty seat missing another child, my daughter - hearing or deaf, was screaming to be occupied. When we finally got pregnant, I called my mother-in-law to tell her the incredible news...the first words out of her mouth, "God, I feel so sorry for Jordan. I don't know why you've gone and done this, but Jordan has too many needs for you to dedicate yourself to another child." Shit was that hard going down. As idealistic as this may sound, I firmly believe that "love conquers all." Had Sofia been born deaf, I would have loved her just like I loved my son and in respect to taking something away from Jordan, what greater gift in the world to give him than another person in his world to love him unconditionally. When I was pregnant, I prayed, not for a hearing daughter, for an affectionate, loving, intelligent and compassionate child. That is what God gave me and she happens to be hearing.
The fact that she is hearing is so strange. I was so used to raising Jordan in Italian that I would say certain things to Sofia in Italian instead of English. I had to relearn how to speak English to a baby...so bizarre. Jordan received his ci when Sofia was two, so her English was at a point where Jordan's ability to hear with the CI has enabled him to follow along in learning spontaneous English with Sofia. The whole thing is just so overwhelming to watch and live. The other day the tv accidentally turned off and I was looking for the flicker, Jordan picked up the flicker and said, "Oh, it's my fault, Mom." IN ENGLISH! I have been "Mamma" for eleven years, now I'm suddenly "Mom" and "Mommy" (when he wants something - conniving brat)I have never taught him how to say "It's my fault" so I said, "Jordan, how do you know how to say that?" He said, "I hear you say it all the time." Floored.
Magical sibling moment...Jordan reading a bedtime story to Sofia.