“Think positive, Laura,” my husband told me. “That sort of negative thinking isn’t healthy for you or the baby.” He took a big sip of his morning coffee and stared at me over the ceramic mug.
“I can’t help the way I feel, Mike.” I patted my pregnant belly. “And I feel worried.”
“The doctor says the baby is growing like he should.” He stood up and grabbed his car keys. “Your worrying is doing nothing but stressing you and me both.” Mike set his coffee down and walked out the door.
After Mike’s reaction, I kept my fears to myself, but they didn’t go away. I prayed about the baby’s health, and I asked God to get rid of my anxiety, but it only got worse. Finally, the day after his due date, Joshua was delivered. He was a beautiful, eight pound, pink skinned, baby boy.
Mike kissed me on top of my head, then tenderly stroked Joshua’s tiny feet as he lay sleeping in my arms. “I told you everything would be fine.”
At that moment I was so puffed up with happiness; it felt as if I’d shatter into a million pieces if I tried to fit one more perfect moment in my life.
Josh kept me occupied day and night, so there wasn’t much time to think. I was exhausted, but I couldn’t believe the love I felt for this miniature human. Mike and I were both thrilled to be parents, and yet, whenever I slowed down long enough to think, I still had this nagging worry. Something wasn’t right with Joshua. One morning, after a particularly rough night, I couldn’t keep silent any longer.
“Josh doesn’t act like he knows me.”
“My God, Laura, don’t be ridiculous; he is only three months old,” yelled Mike. He was so loud that I thought he’d wake Josh up. “He isn’t old enough to recognize anything but hunger, or wet diapers, or a belly ache. Even I know that! ”
I had told myself the same thing over and over. I had no concrete evidence of a problem, but I was scared.
Mike had dark circles under his eyes, matching mine. Joshua hadn’t been sleeping much at night. “Why do you have to worry all the time? You are driving me crazy!” Again, Mike stormed out of the house, and I cried.
I tried harder to put my concerns aside. Most of the things Josh did were normal – he ate well, he was holding his head up, trying to roll over, but he wasn’t responding to people or his toys unless you were right in his face. He didn’t react to noises. Once, when I dropped a heavy pot on the floor near his bouncing carrier, he didn’t even startle. By his four month visit, his doctor also noticed the differences.
“I want to do some tests, Laura.” said Dr. Cheryl Stewart. Her pretty face looked worried. “Josh hasn’t met some of his developmental milestones and I want to rule some things out.”
It didn’t take long before Dr.Stewart had some news for us. Mike and I were both there for that visit.
She didn’t pull any punches. “I am pretty sure Josh has some form of congenital deafness.”
“How? Why?” Mike looked crushed.
“It could be genetic, or it could have happened in utero. We will have to do further testing to know more.”
Mike and I were stunned into silence.
“Depending on the severity, there are things that we can do to help Josh lead a normal life. I want to schedule him with a specialist right away.” She paused. “Best news is his deafness has been discovered early.”
When we returned home from the doctor’s visit, Mike and I sat on the couch with Josh lying on my lap, his feet pushing against my belly.
Mike put his head on my shoulder and choked back a sob. “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you.”
I kissed his forehead. “It doesn’t matter. “ I didn’t even try to stop my tears, but let them fall on my baby’s toes. “Josh may never hear me singing him lullabies, or hear me say ‘I love you’.”
At that moment, Joshua looked up, caught my gaze, and smiled.
Mike placed his large palm across his son's tiny chest. “You are wrong about that, Laura. Love is heard through the heart, not the ears.”
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