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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Alandra’s Lilacs: The Story of a Mother and Her Deaf Daughter

Tressa Bowers

from Chapter Two

It was the first week of May 1967 when I first brought my daughter home to my mother’s kitchen. The whole family, even my maternal grandmother and my great-grandmother, gathered in the kitchen to witness the homecoming. The reunion of five generations of women, all alive and well, was a momentous occasion! It was a wonderful spring day and the breeze entered the room, carrying the smell of lilacs. The huge old bush grew right outside my mother’s kitchen window and the perfume of the lilac has always filled the room in the early spring. I have always associated family in good times and bad-with lilacs, because the kitchen was where my family gathered and spent the day. As I remember those times, my mind smells the wonderful perfume and the memory fills my heart with a longing to share those times with my family once again.

The loss of Lyn Alan the year before had been the most heartbreaking experience I would ever have. Yet life had more or less picked up where it had left off. At seventeen, I was still a child myself. I was naive enough to truly believe love would make everything turn out right. I wanted another baby right away to fill my empty arms. Sug wanted another baby, too. Partly because he wanted to be a husband and father, and partly to avoid the draft.

Before getting pregnant this time, I went to Dr. Frank Morrison, an obstetrician specializing in difficult pregnancies. The prescription he gave me helped me become pregnant within a few months. When he told me I was indeed pregnant, I quickly left his office, eager to tell Sug the good news.

Yet this pregnancy was quite difficult. I had to be confined to bed for weeks because my last baby had been born two months premature. Dr. Morrison told me that all pregnancies were different so I tried to separate the two pregnancies in my mind; yet I constantly feared losing this child. For weeks I lay very still in bed, waiting to feel the first tiny pain signaling my body’s betrayal. I was certain I would have a girl. I sometimes allowed myself to dream of a beautiful daughter, only to find myself terrified of losing her. I passed the long hours in my bed alternating between overwhelming fear and sweet dreams, as I waited for my husband to come home. But Sug stayed away as much as he could, probably avoiding fears of his own.

Because of my extreme loneliness and impending due date, I spent the last month of my pregnancy living in my parents’ home. My doctor’s practice was in a neighboring town, and Sug and I found a house to buy. Daddy even helped get Sug a job at the Alton BoxBoard. I thought everything was going to work out. It was nice being home and getting a little spoiled by all my family.

One night, as the ten o’clock news came on, I went into the living room where my parents were watching TV. I had been to the doctor for a check up just that afternoon. “Mom, I think maybe I need to go to the hospital,” I said. She was settling down to doze in front of the TV, as was her nightly habit. “Are you having labor pains, did your water break?” she asked. I answered no to all her questions. I told her that I felt like I was sitting on an egg, and having contractions but no pain. She laughed, “Well, you’re probably having false labor. Why don’t you go back to bed, the hospital would just check you and send you home.” I agreed and went back to bed. A few minutes later Mother came into my room, where I was trying unsuccessfully to get comfortable. “Daddy thinks I should go ahead and take you to the hospital,” she said. I got out of bed and quickly dressed.

During the fifteen-minute drive, I decided I would sure love a root beer float, so Mom and I stopped, bought one each, and brought them with us.

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