Ethan and I recently were invited to be guests in an ASL class at Ohio University. The students have studied deaf culture and have touched briefly on the cochlear implant and its significance to the deaf community. They were very interested in Ethan's implant as well as his sign language abilities. They asked informed questions and showed a genuine interest in my experience as a hearing parent to a deaf child. I explained that I feel we've approached his deafness from both a medical point of view (hence the implant) as well as a cultural point of view. We're very interested in and respectful of deaf culture, especially the potentially transformative affects of cochlear implants on that community.
What I wasn't expecting to face in that class was the question of whether or not I would be interested in having more children. I believed the context of the question was based on the fact that Ethan was born deaf. I found it very hard to formulate an articulate answer, one that aptly expressed my feelings without making it seem as if having a deaf child was the end all of parenting. Inside, I'm thinking HELL NO, but in reality my reasons for wanting to stop after Ethan has nothing to do with his deafness. I think having another deaf child would seem much less daunting and maybe even exciting. That's the darned truth.
Ethan's deafness aside, he is a very high maintenance kid with many issues that involve a lot of patience, time, investigation, and above all, a willingness to accept that he will defy nature at every turn. For instance, he doesn't really need sleep - or food actually. At least that is what he thinks.
He needs all that we've got to muster. He is surrounded by people who adore him and work hard to meet his needs, but only because he has parents who can put all they've got into his care. Dividing our attention would be next to impossible. Maybe I'm just really in touch with my own limitations. I am in awe of people who can do it, whether their children are "special needs" or not. And single parents? They should be basking in the glory that is only afforded to our super-star athletes.
One of my favorite writers in the blogosphere is Rob, father to Schuyler. He writes very eloquently about this topic and many others, I highly recommend checking him out. This particular entry I'm referring to is titled Secrets and can be found at his blog, My Beloved Monster and Me. Another entry of Rob's that is beautiful and touches more on the experience of raising a "broken" child is titled Shepherd's of the Broken and is well worth the read.