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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Deaf American Prose: 1980–2010
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The man just doesn’t get it. When I’m taking care of the twins, my hands are a little busy. I was pissed at his cluelessness but texted back, “Home. Kids fed and sleeping. Doc visit fine. More when U get home.”

The afternoon was typical. The twins slept, and then when they woke up, they were fussy. I fed and changed them and then put the twins in the stroller to go for a walk. I was trying to work exercise back into my days, and I had found that a stroller walk usually calmed both twins. Patrick usually fell asleep almost right away. Julianne kept her eyes open, seeming to look around—at me? At the trees? At the shadows? Whatever it was, she was mesmerized and perhaps hypnotized into finally sleeping about 30 minutes into the walk.

Well, the stroll. We couldn’t go too fast because the stroller was designed for smooth surfaces, not the bumpy and frequently cracked sidewalks in our neighborhood. Even so, by the time we turned into our yard after walking for about 45 minutes, I was tired. The twins both woke up when I brought them inside, so I tried to put them down for some tummy time, but they both wailed. Diapers were fine, so I tried feeding them, but neither one would eat. I swaddled them so that they looked like large burritos, but that didn’t help either. I decided to just sit in our recliner and hold them until Matt got home, which should be in half an hour or so. It didn’t help the shrieking, but I felt like I was doing something.

Matt took his hearing aids off as soon as he walked in the door.

“Better?” I signed as best I could since I had a baby in each arm.

He nodded. “You’re lucky you can’t hear them at all sometimes.”

“Take one.”

Matt walked over and picked up Julianne. I shifted Patrick to lie in my lap and shifted the chair upright.

“I paged when I was getting ready to leave work. How come you didn’t answer?”

“Because I’ve been sitting here holding them for like 45 minutes.” Are you blind or just stupid? I thought. “They’ve been pretty fussy this afternoon. I wonder if they’re sore from their shots?”

“Tell me more about the doctor’s visit.” Matt shifted Julianne to his right arm after he finished signing.

After I filled him in, Matt started singing to Julianne a song he had made up about her and her mommy—me! It’s real doting daddy love when a deaf dad makes up songs. Even with his hearing aids he can only hear some noises, enough to clue him in to some things in the environment and enough to help a little with lip-reading, but that’s it. He does remember a lot of songs from before he became deaf at age seven.

Mommy had a Princess Jule
Princess Jule, Princess Jule
Mommy had a little Jule
Her eyes as blue as sky.

Everywhere that Mommy went
Mommy went, Mommy went,
Everywhere that Mommy went,
Her Jule was sure to go.

I sang along with him, though I’m sure I must sound horrible. Like Matt, I had been born hearing, or possibly hard of hearing. No one really knows, except that by the time I was two I was diagnosed mild-moderate hearing loss that progressed to profound by the time I was five. Years of speech therapy helped me learn to speak what is apparently off-the-charts well for a deaf person, but that’s no singing voice.

Amazingly, this song usually works to calm both babies. Unfortunately, when they are in high fussy mode, they start right back up again when we stop singing. My voice just won’t take singing it more than a couple of times straight—it feels like my vocal cords will tear or something, and I choke. Matt made up a song for Patrick, too, but sings it less. The twins also like it less. I wonder if it sounds worse or if they like the Jule song better because they hear it more? Patrick’s song goes like this:

My name is Patrick.
I like to kick.
My mom’s a chick.
My dad’s a hick.

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