Wednesday 29 April 2020

Deaf motherhood: baby sleep

I was never going to be one of those people who rushed moving my baby into their own room. The anxiety I had about hearing FFB started long before he was born, and a bedside crib was the only place I wanted him at night for the first 7 months.

As well as being deaf, I am also extremely short sighted. So from the moment FFB was born, I've slept with my glasses on every single night so that my vision will help me hear him. When FJM is away, I also sleep with my hearing aids in.

When FFB was in our room, it worked well. Somehow, his cry was enough to wake me, and if it didn't, then FJM would wake me.

I also bought two different monitors for when he slept in the day - one was a video monitor so that I could watch him and see how he was doing and the other was a vibrating wrist band. This one works less well as it goes off with every sound including what I can only assume are police sirens and noises from outside the building. So I don't use that much.

However, at 7 months, FFB got really mobile and frustrated at the complete lack of space available to him in the little bedside cot and so we took the plunge and moved him into our study/spare room/nursery.

The first night, I'm not going to lie, I was petrified. I kept my hearing aids in and lay awake looking at the screen to check he was OK until eventually I fell asleep from sheer exhaustion. And then I discovered that even with my hearing aids in, his cry was not enough to wake me. In fact, I couldn't even hear him crying when I was awake. The only sign that he was crying was the red bar on the baby monitor - muted because FJM said it created a horrific echo - and his furious little face staring straight at the camera (he learnt fast that we were spying on him through that funny thing attached to his cot).

I was devastated. And slightly worried. Until now, I had been able to jump out of bed and comfort FFB quickly enough that it didn't wake FJM. Now both of us were getting a crap night's sleep and FJM had a tonne of work and long hours each day.

Fast forward two weeks and we are gradually working it out. FFB is learning to self settle a bit more without us there - he has two hard working Jellycat Bunnies who spend much of the night being wrangled left, right and centre around the cot and who need some serious washing machine TLC - but that's a whole other story, and he's learnt that while I might not come straight away, I will come if he needs me but that at 7 months this is a whole lot less than when he was really little.

For reassurance, I got some advice from Calm & Bright Sleep Support to make sure that even though I couldn't hear FFB, I was doing the best thing by him to help him get the best night's sleep. And, after chatting to one of them on Instagram, they're also looking at captioning their stories on Insta - where they offer lots of free advice - to make them more accessible to deaf mums like me.

When I wrote my last blog about deaf motherhood, I had some amazing people get in touch to remind me of the amazing adaptability of children and how FFB would also adapt to having a deaf mother and even at 7 months, he's doing that already.

He's using baby sign language - milk is his favourite - and he's fast learning the sign for 'gentle' as he keeps swiping my glasses from my face. We also sing songs with baby sign included in them as well. The wonderful Ettie Betty Baby Signs' online classes are invaluable and he loves them. And they're definitely keeping me sane during lockdown.

He also has a really low cry - something that FJM swears is because I respond to it whereas I don't hear high-pitched screaming. He comes right up to me when he wants something and he's incredibly expressive with his face. All this might have been exactly how he'd have turned out if he didn't have a deaf ma, and either way, it doesn't matter.

He's amazing. I love him. And I hope that he'll love me, even if I don't always hear him cry.

Happy Wednesday peeps


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