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Sounds Like Two Deaf Parents in Here

April 30, 2009

I went out with a guy once who looked great on paper — talldark&handsome, architect, motorcycle, lots of wooing. We’d go swimming at night, he’d leave notes on my car, he made me a bouquet made entirely out of roasted corn. (Listen: the bouquet of roasted corn was better than it sounds.) But our chemistry was off, and we broke up, and finally, we both realized that he was gay. Is the gayness the punch line? It is not.

While it lasted, I also thought that his parents sounded very interesting because they were both Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were also both deaf.

Where the heck is this going?

Well, whenever he told people about his two deaf parents, they’d comment that his house must’ve been very quiet. He would reply that to the contrary, his house was QUITE LOUD — that deaf people are far less aware of how much noise they are making, especially if they have started a household with another person who is immune to loud noises.

I think about this a lot lately because when I wake up in the middle of the night, the baby, who is 10 weeks old, is making about as much noise as I imagine two deaf parents might make.

I’m not talking about crying. There’s a loud suctiony pop that happens when he’s sucking his wrist or fingers but isn’t yet coordinated to quite get purchase on them before he jerks his arm and the thumb goes flying out. POP! This is in addition to slurping, gurgles, grunts, clucks and snorts. He sighs and lets out yawns that have a little vocalization attached. And, HICCUP! HICCUP! And he has started to talk, in a manner of speaking. “ahhh, ahhh, ahhh,” he says.

The one-man band is punctuated by the occasional prolonged fart. He’s sharing a room with us but is completely matter of fact about the farting situation, which I admire, at least in someone so tiny.

There is also the noise that only a twelve pound human zipped into a little fleece blanket bag could make, which is achieved by the flinging of legs up into the air. He can’t flip over or move much on his own unless his legs are pushed against something, but he’s sort of at sea in the middle of the cradle. The idea behind the flinging, I think, is that the legs come down in a slightly different position, and if he flings them high and hard enough, he can dislodge himself from the little foam mountains we wedge him between in order to keep him on his back, or wiggle the whole package — body and mountains — towards the bars of his cradle.

If it were your roommate or spouse or two deaf parents making these noises, it might be aggravating, but when it’s your baby making them, holy moly, it’s just delightful.

He used to cry or not cry and that was about it, but as the weeks have gone by he’s become far more active, noisewise, and the best way I can describe it is that he’s more colored in. It’s a developmental thing I’ve witnessed in other babies as well.

First, it happens physically. A friend had a baby last summer. Eli was sweet when he was born but had the appearance of the very new or the very old. At the time wasn’t thinking that so much but it was clear when I saw him a few months later, and his lips had bloomed into red and his cheeks were rosy, eyes bright and focused, skin more jelled on his face. I was amazed at the change, and Henry has seen the exact same trajectory, physically. I thought he was pretty handsome when he was born but look back at pictures and he looks comparatively squinty and gray and collapsed. Henry would grasp his hands together and hold tight and glower with the air of an aging male Russian politician.

These days, with smiling and laughing, he seems a lot more like a baby.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 11, 2009 1:57 am

    I love the way your mind works and am impressed it is working so beautifully after 10 weeks of new motherhood. Thanks for finding time to write and share!

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