Friday, January 22, 2010

Like Minds

I have old friends that I don't talk to for months, and when we finally sit down together, it's like no time has passed at all, like we're still in high school finishing each other's sentences. I expect that from them...we've known each other for ten or fifteen years, we were there for every embarrassing moment as well as most of our life changing experiences.

Tonight, though, I went to dinner with someone I've only known for less than 18 months, who I should not actually be able to do that with, and yet we were finishing each other sentences and sat for three and a half hours talking non stop. Why do we have such a great connection when we've known each other a comparitvely short time?

It's simple, really. Her daughter is deaf, too. In fact, Andrea was literally an answered prayer for me not so long ago. I still remember the day I first returned to church after Seth was born. I was talking to a friend who was actually a deaf communications major in school and telling her about how Seth failed his hearing screening in the hospital. Everyone around me was saying how they knew of so and so who also failed their screening and they hear just fine, or how the test can be faulty, etc. etc. I went on to explain about how I was fairly certain that Seth could not in fact hear, regardless of the test, since he had never startled or reacted to a noise at home, which was remarkable because Jace was going through a drumming phase at the time. They all basically told me I was being paranoid, but at the end of the service, my friend approached me again.

She told me that there was a family visiting the church that day who had a deaf daughter with a cochlear implant, and that she had tracked them down and asked if I'd like to meet them. I jumped at the chance, and that was the first time I met my friend Andrea. Her daughter, Jillian, was born profoundly deaf and at the time, she had only had her first CI for a few months. In an extremely rushed meeting, we exchanged numbers and she told me to call her after Seth's follow up hearing test.

Two weeks later, Seth had a repeat ABR test done and we found out conclusively that he was deaf. In the next few days, I remember finding Andrea's card and calling her. She answered the phone and said "I've been thinking of you so much since we met!" We talked for a long time...I don't even remember about what, but she was great. It turned out that she had only visited our church that day, on the very first day we returned after Seth's NICU stay, because another family happened to invite them. They had a home church and that was the only Sunday they ever attended. Crazy.

A few weeks later, I had the opportunity to go to a symposium for early childhood hearing loss with Seth, and when I was waiting in line to check into the hotel, someone ran up to me and hugged was Andrea. We were both in the same hotel for the same symposium, and we spent the entire weekend hanging out and getting to know each other. Ever since then, we have been good friends. She has an older daughter who Ava and Jace love to play with, and her younger daughter is just about 18 months older than Seth. While we've served on the boards of organizations together and fundraised together and attended lectures together, the thing I love the most about our friendship is that we've both been through it. The roller coaster ride of implants and insurance and therapy and the stress it puts on every single area of your life.

We can sit in a restaurant for three hours talking about everthing under the sun from relationships to money to fighting insurance for implant upgrades. We can talk about fashion and then get into the nitty gritty details of what it's really like to have a kid who's reliant upon electronic devices to hear. With most people, I would never complain about anything because cochlear implants have been such an amazing gift to us. But with her, I can tell her about how frustrated I was when one of Seth's headpieces went out right before therapy. I can complain about how sometimes I want to just be able to pick up and go without back up batteries and parts, and she gets it without thinking I'm being petty or ungrateful for his hearing. Of course, she also gets the awesome parts better than anyone else, too. When I told her a story about a birthday party we were at when Seth turned when I called his name despite loud kids and music playing and terrible acoustics, she immediately understood what a huge thing that was, how it's such a big deal to us when things like that happen because before our kids were implanted, everyone told us we couldn't expect them to hear in noise or find our voices in a crowd.

But they do, in a whole lot of cases, and I love having someone to share that with who knows exactly what it's like to watch your baby stare obliviously into space while their siblings yell and scream and talk around them, who has wondered if they will ever hear I love you or Mama or even the word no come from their child's lips.

I know God placed her in my life to help me through the process of life with Seth and I'm so thankful for you have a friend like that?
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