February 24, 2009

To Work or Not to Work

I have always been that person who loves her job, whether it was working at a beach house restaurant or advising graduate students on their job search. I had a truly great position at the Boston University School of Management, and a boss who really valued balancing work and home commitments. I expected to be a parent with a job outside of the home; we had excellent daycare and a flexible work schedule arranged. I felt a responsibility to maintain my job, as my own mother had. Between my maternity leave and Dan's family leave, one of us was at home with Hadley for the first six months. As we thought more about her hearing loss, the number of appointments, the commitment to therapy, and all that went in to raising a speaking child with a hearing loss, we began to question our decision to both return to our jobs.

Logistically, one day of every week was needed for auditory-verbal therapy. Our two hour sessions were held in Gloucester, at least a 75 minute drive from us, in each direction. Looking at the calendar, we had at least two additional appointments every week, for audiology and Early Intervention. We also knew how critical the first months of listening were, as well as beginning therapy. We just didn't want to risk that time. So, with some trepidation, I left my job and focused on being an at-home parent.

I treated my role at home as my full-time job. "Work hours" were focused on creating a world full of sounds and rich language for Hadley. I left each AVT session with Lea with a list of things to do: research to review, books to read to Hadley, weekly focus words and sounds, toys to use, activities to do. For the first few months, I was in project mode. This was familiar territory for me.

(Since then, I've met any number of AV families who have balanced work, therapy sessions, and family life all very admirably. The beauty of auditory-verbal therapy is that anyone can do it. All of your interactions with your child can be rich with language and meaning. You can find caregivers who are willing to understand the fundamentals and implement them with your child; a good caregiver will recognize these as beneficial and necessary to any child, regardless of hearing status. It's all about making AVT work for your family and your circumstances.)

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