My Battle Call | The Bean
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The Bean

It turned out that there would be more to this Battle Call…affectionately known as The Bean. And she was born perfectly petite.

My mom says I shouldn’t be surprised. Like the apple that doesn’t fall from the tree, she’s kept us on our toes from the get-go. Some might call it spirited. We affectionately call it fierceness.

But, the journey of being thrown for loops with this squirt began long before she entered the world outside the womb.

Even though we only had a lengthy list of boy names, when we found out we were pregnant with a baby girl, we were stoked. Harper would be her name.

Despite our firstborn baby having hearing loss and all the challenges, the idea of having another child, who probably would be born hearing, had us on cloud-9. Mind you, I never studied statistics. 1:4 seemed like good odds to me. I guess I chose to gloss right over it.

Whatever we were dealt, I told (convinced) myself, we would deal with. We decided to wait until her birth and go from there.


Three days before our first-born’s cochlear implant surgery, while four months pregnant with the Bean, we got the call. The routine quad screening results came back; it suggested a high probability of Down Syndrome. Naively, we hadn’t even researched what our baby was being tested was for.

It was routine, after all.

We decided not to wait to find out conclusively. We wanted to know. Then, we could prepare for what it.

There was a silver lining. Now, opting for an amniocentesis, we could also do the genetic testing to check for the syndrome that was the cause for the hearing loss in our son.

Easy-peasy, we thought.

We figured we would have peace of mind that this baby would be born with hearing.

I don’t even remember the procedure. I suspect I was too overwhelmed to comprehend it all.

<Sigh> Our unborn child did not have Down Syndrome.

The genetic testing for the other would take longer.

Weeks passed and we were consumed with our son’s post-surgical complications. Nausea. Literally bringing home a human weeble-wobble. Next, came an infection, followed by hospitalization. Lab coats. IVs. Hell.

Too distracted even to think twice…”did she or didn’t she have hearing loss?”

Then the call came while driving, returning from auditory-verbal therapy with my newly implanted toddler an hour from home.

“Can you schedule a time to come in for the results,” the softly spoken genetics expert asked? I pulled over. Sitting in a parking lot: “JUST. TELL. ME!”

The rest of the conversation is a blur.

An overwhelming feeling of grief washed over me. From the inside-out. How. Could. This. Be. Happening? AGAIN.

I knew what it meant. I couldn’t play dumb. The doctor’s visits, surgeries, infant hearing aids. The worry.

I wasn’t the poster child for hearing loss just because of how well versed I had in IT all. We were all living in the fog and now… we would have to experience it all over. Again.

I immediately began a process of grieving. The loss of the life I had imagined for her. For us.

Big stuff. Sure. But the small…

A kid in the bath or pool or ocean that could hear a splash, the rain, a wave. Little eyes that would track and turn to my voice. Hear my lullaby. A whisper. A bird. The baby I would take out, without stares, curious to figure out why this little-bitty-baby was wearing those huge things on her ears. The sideways looks…

What was wrong with her?

I felt grief about not being given a chance at mainstream motherhood. The normal way. The motherhood experienced like most people I knew.

And then Labor Day came. The little Bean was born. Entering the world with complete gusto. And, we rolled up our sleeves and charged on. Ass down, chin up.

With retrospect, I was able to be grateful for having that screening which led us to the testing. We got to know before any action other than digesting the diagnosis needed to take place.

I was able to let go of the things I had imagined, or wished, or longed for.

And accept.

She was designed perfectly, imperfect in a petite little package. 

She was our Bean and I wouldn’t change a thing.

You can read more about Bean in my new book!

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  • Jo Ann (Omi Jo)
    Posted at 17:21h, 02 February Reply

    Sitting here with tears streaming….even knowing “the rest of the story” reliving it from your perspective as a new mother when what I observed at the time was a brave face and a strong mother dealing with challenges that were heart breaking. You really have talent as a writer and I hope when your world slows down a little that your will publish your journal so the “world” can embrace your unique motherhood journey. Love you and thanks for sharing.

    • vallig
      Posted at 02:30h, 03 February Reply

      Thank you! I know I’m not a Carter Girl, but I feel like every woman in our family has a little warrior in her! Thank you for being there during many of those tough times. Love you.

  • Kristy
    Posted at 02:23h, 03 February Reply

    Love this , I didn’t know you when the kids were small and you were going through all of this, so amazing for you to share , so many people hide there emotions instead of putting them out there, good for you ! By time I met you family all I ever saw was a confident mother , an amazing advocate and so much LOVE!

    • vallig
      Posted at 02:29h, 03 February Reply

      That means the world to me! The team at a beach kids was literally a lifeline for us! Thank you!

  • Susan
    Posted at 15:44h, 15 September Reply

    I really loved reading this. I wish I had asked my mother how she felt raising a child with hearing loss. She always made me feel like everything is normal and that I was normal. I went to regular school and had hearing friends all my life. My mother has passed away now. But I’m sure she probably worried as well. I’m sure she was also happy that I turned out just fine! And By the way We are fortunate for this day and age for cochlear implants!

  • My Battle Call
    Posted at 16:56h, 15 September Reply

    Thank you for reading and sharing! I am sure like most mothers, we worry because we want the best for our kids. I know my kids will be just fine! And yes, we are blessed the technology is available to provide the gift of sound!

    • Ellen Dean
      Posted at 23:55h, 16 March Reply

      Wow. Tears streaming as I read your words. You have an amazing ability to bring others to sit beside you and understand the depth of your feelings. I tell my daughter often that God gives special childten to special people. My dear Valli you were chosen for your children. You are special. Battle and Bean are such treasures. God chose you to be their Mother. Some day when they are reading your words as adults they will understand how blessed they are.

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"Through the Fog: navigating life's challenges while raising kids with hearing loss"

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