In this excerpt from Miracles in Tough Times a mom learns her newborn is deaf and miraculously discovers the many blessings to be found in every part of God's plan.
- Posted on Jun 3, 2015
He came into this world chubby, bald, beautiful, and with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. After a very difficult delivery, he was born perfectly healthy, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. We named him Noah and it seemed to fit.
The day after Noah was born, the nurse came into my hospital room and told me it was time to take him for the newly implemented newborn hearing screening. I thought this was a good idea and watched as she wheeled him away, thinking I could use a few moments to myself. I didn’t know that this simple test would forever alter our lives.
She handed Noah over to me a short time later and informed me that he failed the hearing test, but that it was nothing to worry about. Often newborns have fluid, which block their ear canals. It happens all the time. Another test was scheduled, of which I was assured Noah would pass with flying colors. A week later we returned to the hospital for the second test.
Again, there was no response. The audiologist reassured us that it was probably nothing—leftover fluid, or just complications of testing such little babies. Another test was scheduled for two weeks later.
I thought the waiting would kill me. Two weeks is an eternity when you are waiting to find out if your child cannot hear.
Returning home, I took Noah to his room for his nap. I looked around the room and suddenly everything took on a new meaning to me. The musical Noah’s ark mobile above his crib—could he hear it? The books that made sound to go along with the story—would they mean anything to him? The lullabies I sang to comfort him when he cried—did he even know?
I felt the tears splashing down my face and was powerless to stop them. I looked at my tiny, pink-cheeked boy fast asleep and wondered what his future would hold. I softly stroked his cheek and said a silent prayer that it was all just a mistake.
The next appointment came and I had to go alone. My husband was out of town on business and there was no way for him to be with me. We talked about rescheduling the appointment, but decided against it. We had waited too long already. With shaking hands, I took him in and watched as the audiologist once again hooked the machine up to his ears.
He was silent as he tested Noah, not giving me any indication of what he saw. Finally, he unhooked Noah, and without looking at me said, “It appears that your son is deaf. You will need more tests to make sure, and I am scheduling you to see a specialist.” He never once looked at me, but just wrote in his chart as he delivered the news.
I stared at him in shock. This wasn’t real. It just wasn’t happening. I felt numb as I tucked the appointment card into Noah’s diaper bag and carried him out of the hospital and to our car. Like a robot, I got in and started the car. Deaf. Deaf. Deaf pounded in my head and I couldn’t make sense of it.
My phone rang and it was my husband. Hearing his voice finally made it real. I pulled over to the side of the road and just sobbed into the phone. “Noah is deaf” was all I could get out.
I heard my husband’s voice on the other end of the line crack as he tried to comfort me and then broke down in tears himself. “I’m coming home now. I’ll get on the next flight.” We cried together for a few moments and then hung up. He was on the next flight home, and we spent the following few days in a numb, disbelieving state of shock. We never imagined that we would have a child born with what other people call a disability, and it brought us into a world that we hadn’t planned on and that was completely unfamiliar to us. We felt simply helpless.
Having a child born unable to hear was not what I had dreamed. My visions of the future were forever changed with the diagnosis. “Noah is deaf” rang over and over in my head until the words finally sank in. My heart broke for the things he would miss—things like the sound of a bird singing on a warm summer morning; the way music can fill your soul; the sound of his own children’s laughter. My voice. And the things that would keep him safe—a fire alarm, a horn honking, the doorbell. I couldn’t stop focusing on what he would miss.
Then I began to pray. My prayers, which at first were full of self-pity, fear, and anger, began to take on a new sense of peace. Prayer can do that to you. Hope filled my soul like a sweet melody.
The thought came to me that there had to be programs, schools, something for deaf kids. We immediately decided as a family to learn sign language. I had taken two semesters of American Sign Language in college and had never known why I had such an impulse to learn the language. Now I knew why.
I began to search the Internet for programs for children who are deaf. My search began to bring one delightful surprise after another. I met a woman named Shirley, who became my very dear friend. Shirley is deaf and also very active in the deaf community.
She was a Godsend. She introduced me to people, told me about programs and schools and other families with deaf kids. E-mail began pouring in from all over the country. People who were deaf wrote words of encouragement, told me of this program or that program. I began to see that Noah had a bright, promising future ahead of him. I felt like spring inside. I met and became friends with many people who became my lifelines. Any questions I had, they answered. Any fears, they allayed, openly and honestly.
Knowing so many deaf adults who were very successful in their chosen careers showed me that the possibilities for Noah were endless. I began to grasp that the only thing Noah couldn’t do was hear. Everything else was possible.
God sent so many people into our lives to help us find the way for Noah. Once I began to pray and ask for help, He sent it in tremendous blessings. Noah now has a best friend his age who also is deaf. Her name is Renate. They will grow up together and be lifelong friends. When they are together, they have their own little language—half sign, half Noah/Renate special lingo. The tiny hands flying, expressions animated, it is a sight to behold.
There is nothing more beautiful, no language more complete. In order to become more proficient at signing, our family instituted new routines to help us. Tuesdays became “no voices” day. We simply turn off our voices and only communicate in sign. Each and every night, without fail, we sit together as a family. We do not talk; we only sign and we discuss our day with each other.
Each family member takes a turn telling the best things in their day and the worst things. It has brought our family incredibly close to one another. The children tell us things they never used to, and they also learn a little more about their parents that they wouldn’t have known before we instituted nightly “family time.” We did this primarily to become better at talking with Noah, but the extra closeness and blessings are more than we ever expected to gain from it. We end every night with family prayer, and now that Noah is old enough, he frequently offers the prayer. To watch his chubby arms and hands give thanks to God for his blessings; to watch him say “thank you” for his mom, his dad, his brothers and sisters, his fishy crackers, for trains, his cat; to ask the Lord to give us good dreams—all are a work of art to me.
Often my eyes fill with tears and my heart overflows with gratitude for this amazing child. None of us would change Noah in any way if we could. His deafness makes him who he is. He is happy and beautiful, and he brings blessings to everyone he meets. A new world of wonderful and amazing people, and a beautiful flowing language began to open for us.
Our family united in a way that we never would have, had Noah been born “normal.” Our faith in God was rewarded tenfold. Noah’s jubilant spirit brought us into a world of great beauty; it gave us an appreciation for living, for family, for our faith. They say that trials in life will make you stronger. Having Noah was the epitome of that and more. Our faith increased by the small miracles along the way. Our hearts were opened and filled in a way that could only have come from this great gift in such a tiny package.