‘Grief becomes a sadness that enables parents to appreciate what they have; anger becomes energy to make changes; guilt becomes a commitment; recognition of vulnerability becomes a means by which parents reorder their priorities; and the resolution of confusion becomes motivation for learning.’ 5
When a baby is diagnosed with a hearing loss, parents feel a myriad of feelings and hundreds of illogical thoughts race through our heads. This is all quite natural. We may feel sad, angry, confused, vulnerable and guilty. Most of us cry. The thought of what may lay ahead for your baby can be overwhelming. Fortunately, most of us are very resilient and these feelings turn into positive action. We start coping with this new reality.
The support of family, friends and professionals is so important in coming to terms with your baby’s hearing loss. Don’t try and do this alone.
Having a baby with a hearing loss affects the whole family. Parents may feel and react differently. Talk to your partner about how you are feeling and be aware of their needs as well. It can also be beneficial to share your feelings with family and friends you trust and love. Being honest and open with family and friends will help them understand that it is OK to talk about your baby and his or her hearing loss and help you to better deal with the situation. If you have other children, be aware of their feelings and needs.
In the first few weeks after your baby’s diagnosis, it can be difficult to concentrate and ‘get your act together.’ Accept help from family and friends. A good meal, babysitting or taking your other children to school are all things that will help you and allow them to show you that they care.
Take care of yourself. Eat well and get as much sleep as you can. Exercise is a wonderful way of relieving stress and providing a sense of well-being. A walk each day is good for you and your baby!
If you are finding it difficult to come to terms with your baby’s hearing loss, talk to a counsellor. All the newborn hearing screening programs have social workers or counsellors who can listen to you and help you work through your feelings and overcome any obstacles.
Many parents of newly diagnosed babies also find it helpful to talk to other parents who have walked the road before you. The bond between two parents with similar life experiences can be quite special. We realise we are not alone – there is someone else who understands. You can ask the newborn hearing screening team about parent mentoring or parent groups in your area. Aussie Deaf Kids has an online group for parents whose children have a unilateral hearing loss.
We do tend to continue to ride the roller coaster of emotions throughout the life of our child although there are many more highs than lows. Times of transition and change, particularly, can bring back some of those feelings; it is part of being a parent.
Myths and facts about grief6MYTH: It’s important to ‘be strong.’
FACT: Feeling sad, confused and overwhelmed is a normal reaction to finding out your child has a hearing loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to ‘protect’ your family and friends by putting on a brave face. Showing your feelings can be a help to you and them.
MYTH: If you don’t cry, it means you are not sorry about the diagnosis.
FACT: Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it is not the only one. You may feel just as sad as others but have other ways of showing it.
15-Nov-2015 8:27 PM (AEST)