On Monday, I attended Austin's birth with my friend Beth and her husband. During the twelve hours of labor, various nurses, the doctor and family members came in and out of the room.
For a couple of moments throughout the day, I briefly wished I could hear.
Don't get me wrong. I feel quite comfortable with myself and I'm assertive enough to ask people to repeat what is being said. So it's not a matter of accepting that I'm deaf. I was comfortable enough to feel that I didn't need an interpreter.
However, there are always situations that come up where asking to repeat things can't happen. For example, one of the husband's friends came into the room and a lot of conversation was flowing. I couldn't join in, since it was moving far too fast for me. A new nurse would come in every couple of hours and I would have to get used to lipreading a different person all day long. Those are the kinds of situations that deaf and hard of hearing people face on a daily basis and frequently get left out of, because there's no polite way to join in the conversation and comprehend everything that's being said.
I've attended two of Beth's births previously and felt quite comfortable supporting her. We've been friends for fourteen years. When it came time to push, I was on one side holding one leg, the hubby was on the other side. Pushing was moving alone routinely.
In the middle of Austin's birth, all hell broke loose. The doctor called a code and suddenly the room filled with doctors and nurses. I, of course, couldn't hear what was going on. Beth's husband mouthed the words, "They're calling for a cesarean!" Austin was stuck.
For several frightening minutes, there was a lot of yelling. I saw the doctor go in with both hands, and I knew instinctively that there was little time to spare. A nurse jumped on top of Beth and applied pressure. I knew those were emergency measures and something inside of me made me lean over Beth and urge her to push.
And somewhere during the moments of praying, watching, and holding my breath, a thought suddenly popped into my mind.
I wish I could hear what everyone is saying.
The thought quickly disappeared as the events unfolded. Austin was brought to the baby warmer and for several heart-wrenching minutes, we didn't know if he was going to make it. It took a few minutes to get him breathing and he pinked up.
It wasn't until today that I reflected back on all that had happened and about that thought that had popped in to my head.
Why in the world, in the middle of all that was happening, did I wish that I could hear?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized why: when I urged Beth to push, I was operating on instinct. There was no way for me to hear the doctor's instructions.
What if I was wrong? What if pushing at that moment was not the right thing to do.
What if my lack of hearing and understanding had hurt my friend?
So it had me wondering about deaf and hard of hearing doctors and nurses-- there are several of them around the U.S.-- how do they handle emergency situations when a code is called?
Stay tuned as I find out more.