It is extremely hard to raise kids when you are hard of hearing.
I was raised in a family where hearing loss was common. My grandfather was hard of hearing and my dad suffers from a significant hearing loss. In this environment, hearing loss was seen as normal and no‑one really understood or questioned it. We just lived with it.
When I was 20 years old, I had my first hearing test. That was when I was told I had a hearing loss. At the time, I had a chronic ear infection while I was pregnant with my daughter.
When my daughter was born was when the struggles really started to show though. I wouldn’t wake up to her crying and I would have my partner kick me in the leg and tell me “it’s time to wake up. Baby is up. You’ve got to feed her”. My hearing loss got worse a few years later, when I had my son. I went back, had another hearing test, and they then told me that it was permanent.
Communicating with my children at the best of times can be extremely difficult. If they come running up to me when I’m cooking dinner and they’re calling my name, “Mum, mum, I’ve hurt myself”, sometimes I don’t hear them.
There are also times where my language skills are not exactly the best. When my kids started kindergarten, the education system picked up that they didn’t pronounce words very well either, as they pronounce words the same way that I do. That was the point when I really started to educate myself on my hearing loss.
Going through that journey with my children by my side has been very interesting. I connected with a few hard of hearing mums in my area and I started to realise how much our hearing loss affected us raising our children. These mums are very supportive and it made me feel extremely happy that I’m not alone.
Up until recently, I hadn’t made the connection that if I had a hearing loss, my kids might too. When I started working for HAPEE in Hearing Australia I got my kids looked at. Turns out two out of four of my kids had middle ear infections at the time they were tested and one of my sons has hearing loss. He has some speech delays because of this, but it’s been really amazing to have HAPEE programs supporting him to access the care that he needs.
Let’s get our babies’ ears checked and looked at. That’s the biggest thing I can say.