Navigator

Now that I’ve alerted my family and friends about my pregnancy, I’ve thought and thought about what, from my baby journal, (yes, from the day I found out, I’ve been keeping one), I could publish here. Some people are braver than I am and put it all out there. I can’t do that … yet. But here is one entry I feel relatively comfortable unearthing.

I am reminded of interviewing Elaine, a woman who is about my age and who was raised by blind parents. She said she constantly grew up with people being impressed by very ordinary things. It’s happening already while you’re in utero. I’m glad there is a small period when you’re immune to it. Even after birth, it will be a few years still until you fully understand what goes on for me every time I encounter random strangers. People either ignore me, which is sometimes preferable, sometimes not; try to help, whether I want the help or not; or ask weird questions. I am cringing about the days when you’ll have to witness one (or several)? Of these conversations.
During my first trimester sequential screening, which consisted of an ultrasound and a finger sticking, the Hispanic receptionist thought for a second I was in the wrong place. “How could she be pregnant?” She did not actually say this out loud. I think she just asked what I was doing there or something like that.
“I have an appointment,” I told her calmly. I could hear myself, the way I sometimes can in dreams, this calm, faraway self, asking her for assistance with yet more paperwork, telling her that yes, I’m employed and work fulltime in technical support. (This last is a slight exaggeration. I do help people with disabilities to use their technology, but there is a point of brokenness beyond which I can’t go). All of this happened in a sort of serenity I had not thought possible, but I can take something from my mother, a woman who is slow to anger and even slower to reveal her anger. If you’re calm, then you’re not starting anything, and if you’re not starting anything, chances are people will leave you alone. While I know that mindset won’t always work, that it didn’t for her and won’t for me, that there were times she had to advocate and not hide, just as I’ll have to, I can understand its benefits. If I’m calm, maybe no one will tell me I’m not allowed to raise you?
Anyway, I got into the ultrasound room, and the Caucasian tech said, “You get around pretty well, don’t you?”
“Yes,” I said. I never know how to answer that question. On that particular trip, the white cab driver dropped us off at the wrong building, so I had to ask for directions from a kind African-American receptionist in the main building. She promptly abandoned her post and walked with me to the right building, the right floor even. She didn’t ask why I wanted to be in the maternity area, and she disappeared tactfully after I thanked her without announcing to the entire room that she “brought” me there. I wished she could stay. She probably would not have almost said, “No, right?” after asking the employment question.
But my point is that I didn’t really travel well, or at least without help. Then again, I depend on people to read signs, even if I’m traveling alone, and some of them get it wrong, so that I have to undo, not only my mistakes, but theirs with the help of mistake undoers. There will be a point when you’re privy to these escapades. There might even be a point when you start reading signs for me at age six or seven, better than the adults around us. You will interrupt my asking of directions to point out that you know exactly how to get wherever, and you will actually be right. I do not want you to be ushered into the world just to be my reader, my navigator, and yet this might happen from time to time. I still want to be the parent, and I still want you to have a “normal” childhood. That won’t entirely happen, but I’ll cling to that dream as tenaciously as I can.

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2 comments

  1. I am so happy for your good news! You know, “normal” is over-rated. Your child may not have a “typical” childhood in some ways but he or she will have a wonderful one. I am very excited for you!!! Can’t wait to read more about your journey!!

    • Thank you for your support! Your journey with Madison has been an inspiration for my own parenthood journey. From interviews with blind parents I’ve read, there do seem to be many positive aspects to having blind parents for kids: they often seem to develop a capacity for empathy more quickly, they’re more used to diversity and difference, and unless the kids themselves have disabilities of their own which affect this, they’re often highly verbal at a very early age out of necessity. It is an exciting journey, and no matter whether I blog about it or not, I’ll keep you updated and will probably email questions too!

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