Lianne Herbert: The loneliness of being a new deaf mum

Posted on January 17, 2017

I’m a new mum, well not so much now that my child is two, but before at times I have felt loneliness. Especially when forced to go to Mother and Babies groups in my local area.

Before I gave birth, knowing I would be a single mum, I searched for Deaf Mother and Babies groups in Leeds. The results were laughable. No such thing seemed to exist. It was all ‘teach your hearing baby baby signs’.

When I gave birth, being at home with a brand new baby was exhausting and demanding. I lived at my parents in the first crucial months to adjust to the demands of a newborn. Not being able to differentiate his cries was difficult too. Was he hungry? Did he need to burp? Was he in pain? I simply didn’t get it right one hundred percent. But then who does? This was made worse by the fact of having a depression of some sort. I was already on tablets before my son was born, continued them throughout the pregnancy and after he was born.

Getting help from my family helped stave off the loneliness but when work demanded their presence I had to find ways to interact with the world again.

I joined one baby signing group but even I could tell the teacher couldn’t sing. She had the enthusiasm though but I felt even more isolated from not knowing all these nursery rhymes! The other mums knew all the actions, signs and melodies off by heart. I just felt out of place, yet again. I only stayed at the group for a few months.

I needed to lose weight as I was comfort eating, but where could I take my baby with me to exercise? Luckily I found a Mother and Baby pram exercise type at my local park. It all sounded scary. Going to the park in the freezing cold, exercising whilst your child is in the pram or, if older, running around. The instructor often had to look after Babies whilst the mothers did challenging routines or went for a quick run. It was here I made friends that went on social outings outside the class. I feel they will be friends for life!

As my son has some sort of hearing loss, meaning he may need a hearing aid to detect high pitched frequencies, I was invited to join a group that the Teachers of the Deaf ran in Leeds. I met a few parents, some hearing, some deaf but as it wasn’t every week I didn’t always get a chance to attend – I suffered baby brain badly!

I still felt a group of deaf parents meeting with deaf or hearing children was something I missed out on. I detested going to hearing events where music, games and stories were done. It was often in church buildings meaning the acoustics for me were terrible. I’d be doing the smile to show I’m ‘listening’ to other parents nattering away. My son loved those environments but I did not. Slowly I avoided going to such places which wasn’t good for either of us.

I already felt alone as a deaf person, so why heighten that feeling by going to such Mother and Baby groups?

It does get easier when your child is able to communicate with you but the first year or so are the hardest. Especially when you don’t already have friends with children.

I feel Channel 4 news on the ‘Season of Loneliness’ December 2016, have once again not concentrated on disabled people who experience loneliness. Unless they did and I haven’t seen the video for it. You can watch the video about new mums experiences which prompted me to write this article. For the video with subtitles click on the link below:

Lianne Herbert is a deaf professional writer. Lianne is also on a Copywriting course to enhance her freelance prospects. She is currently involved with the West Yorkshire Playhouse on a Playwright course.



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