Gull

Chapter Six continued...
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When I was pregnant I had premonitions that something bad would happen. When my son was born he looked so handsome and intelligent my anxieties were swept away. But when my son was six months old, he wasn't reacting to sounds.…I didn't dare test my suspicions. I couldn't bring myself to go to the hospital. I just prayed. I just waited for another miracle to happen. So day after day passed. Other children the same age as my son were saying "baba" and "mama."…Finally one day during Spring Festival, the year before last, we went to Hebei Medical University.

When parents did decide to consult doctors concerning their child's hearing, they might not have had access to good quality medical care or the necessary hearing tests. Several parents mentioned unsatisfactory encounters with doctors: examinations were perfunctory and inadequate, misdiagnoses were made, or parents were told to come back when the child was old enough to have a hearing test. Some parents responded by traveling to larger cities with better facilities where they could get a proper diagnosis. Even when parents did manage to get access to good medical services, several reported being given only the bare facts with little explanation or discussion of what deafness implied for their child.

The diagnosis of deafness came as a terrible shock to parents. When they recalled the time preceding the diagnosis, it was to remember the happiness they felt at their child's birth and contrast it with the misery they felt now—the following passage is quite typical:

Last August I gave birth to a baby girl. With the arrival of our daughter, our whole family was full of happiness. My husband and I showed our love to her in every possible way. We devoted ourselves to her. But by and by we began to notice she wasn't reacting to sounds.

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