Differences and Deafness


I really hope I never utter, “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” to either of my boys. It sounds disparaging. But nevertheless, in these new and novel days of having two children, I can’t help noting the differences between them. Similarities are few, in regards to their personalities, but I do find the below comparison image fascinating. (Granted, many new babies look just like any other new baby of the same ethnicity, but let me enjoy my fascination.)

Timmy last year (left) and Daniel now (right).

Timmy last year (left) and Daniel now (right).

I expect I won’t get many more pictures of Daniel sleeping on his belly, because unlike Timmy, he generally hates it. That makes me more relaxed when various baby workers — midwives, Plunket nurses, etc — come to visit, because they won’t accuse me of attempted infanticide for defying current ‘Safe Sleep’ mandates by sleeping a baby on his tummy. I’d been very fearful of those attitudes with baby Timmy, especially as he was my first baby and I was desperate to be doing everything ‘right’. But what’s a mum to do with a baby who won’t sleep or stop screaming in any position but on his tummy? Safe Sleep disciples will say that sleeping a baby on his tummy is bad for him, but I don’t imagine making a baby suffer sleep starvation is very good for him either. Perhaps that was the beginning of the formation of my own parenting philosophy: I do what works. If Timmy would sleep only on his belly, I let him sleep on his belly. (Although, I did get him up for cuddles on the couch shortly before every scheduled child worker visit. I pick my battles.) If Daniel’s happy on his back, he can sleep on his back.

Their sleeping pose preferences are only the beginning of their differences — some are personality quirks, some just babyisms.

Feeding skills are reversed. Baby Timmy had no problem with latching, but his snack-like intake would demand me up to eight times a night, whereas Daniel often made feedings a painful experience, but at least he takes a decent amount.

Timmy shies from sunlight. Daniel’s happy to relax in it.

Timmy’s a morning person. Daniel’s a night owl. (This was detectable in utero, for both of them.) I anticipate this will be a barrel of laughs later when they’re sharing a room. At the moment Daniel’s bassinet moves to the home office overnight, so his night wakings don’t wake Timmy too.

Timmy had colic. It seems we dodged that bullet with Daniel. Cutting dairy from my diet (a huge sacrifice) helped ease Timmy’s colicky pains, but Daniel’s allowing me to still have whipped cream on my coffee, and all the M&Ms or Whittaker’s Peanut Slabs that I want.

Timmy would go from deep sleep to wide awake in approximately 0.3 seconds (this is still the case), and immediately let me know he was awake and required attention. Often I don’t know Daniel has woken at all because he’s happy to lie quietly in bed and just look around. When I have observed him waking, I’ve noted it’s a process that seems to take at least quarter of an hour. I imagine Daniel will be the hardest to get out of bed, in adolescence.

Those are just the differences I noticed in the first few weeks of having two children. I’m interested (and a little afraid) or what else will come to light, with time.

I’m hoping that the differences don’t include Daniel being half deaf.

Baby Timmy had passed his hearing screen in both ears, on the first attempt. I didn’t expect anything different with Daniel. What would be the odds of having a hearing impaired child? So I wasn’t apprehensive when the scan started. The process was just another box for me to tick, it would all go easily and successfully, and be a non-issue.

Except it didn’t.

His left ear responded just fine to the little screening earbuds, but not his right. Not on the first attempt. Not on the second.

Instead of using the earbuds, which measured responses in the ear, the screeners then tried Daniel with a more elaborate setup. They fixed little plastic cups over his ears, and put three sticky sensors on him — one on his forehead, one behind his neck and one behind a shoulder — and connected them to their machine via clamps and wires. It looked like he was about to be jump started. The sensors would detect responses from his hearing nerve. That would likely pick up hearing responses for his right ear that the earbuds had missed.

Except they didn’t. Not on the first attempt. Not on the second.

Now we have an appointment next week at the hospital’s audiology department, for diagnostic testing. The screeners ‘reassured’ me (that is, they tried) that the failed screens didn’t necessarily indicate hearing loss. Daniel may just have fluid still in his right ear, from his birth.

Okay, he may do. Or he may be half deaf. And now my paranoia notices anything that feeds that fear. It noticed that he turned his face to me at the sound of my voice only when I was standing on his left. It noticed that the white noise playing from my iPod didn’t settle him at all when I held it next to his right ear, but its settling effect was instantaneous when I held it to his left.

I have to wait until Tuesday before I can find out what the real reason is. Until then, I can only plan contingencies. So far there have been two, if it turns out Daniel is deaf in his right ear:

When asking him to do dishes, stand on his left.

When granting him permission to borrow the car, stand on his right.



1 Comment

  • Rachel
    18 Sep 2013

    Yep…. definitely brothers. You could easily convince people it was the same child.

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