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Why I Stopped a Cycle of Family Shame About Hearing Loss

When I became a parent, I was in denial about my hearing loss even though it had started almost 10 years prior. I hid it from everyone except those closest to me. I learned this behavior from my father. He had hearing loss too, but never acknowledged it. We all knew — it is a very hard thing to hide — but it was never discussed. An unmentionable.

My family was not supportive of him. My mother would whisper to my sister and me behind his back, saying, “Don’t worry, he can’t hear us.” Her attitude taught me that hearing loss was shameful and that my father should not expect any help from the family in dealing with it. I look back on this behavior with regret.

So when I started having trouble hearing as an adult, I was appalled and ashamed. I hid it the best I could, following in my father’s footsteps.I remember my mother’s horror when I finally broke down and got hearing aids. “Do you really need to wear them?” she asked. Unfortunately, I did. I shouldn’t have been surprised by her lack of support since she treated my father’s hearing loss the same way, but her attitude reinforced my need to hide. This went on for many years.

Until I had children. Since my loss was genetic I worried that I may have passed it onto them, just as my father had done to me. I could feel my children’s eyes on me, watching me. Every action, every word, every emotion was observed and assimilated into their view of the world. It was up to me to set an example of understanding and compassion. I refused to continue the cycle of contempt and shame.

I would not allow my children to see me denying my hearing loss or feeling embarrassed by it. I asked for quiet tables at restaurants or for someone to face me when they spoke or to repeat something I didn’t hear. Every day I beat back the stigma of hearing loss in hopes of creating a better world for them, should they develop hearing issues later in life.

It wasn’t easy at first, but almost every time I revealed my hearing loss, someone would tell me about his or her personal struggles with hearing loss or that a close friend or family member had issues with hearing. I realized I was not alone and that I could make a difference for people like me. 

I became a hearing health advocate, volunteering on the boards of two leading hearing loss organizations: Hearing Loss Association of America and Hearing Health Foundation. I also started to share my hearing loss story publicly, through writing and speaking.

And I changed my family dynamic. My hearing loss is not an unmentionable, but a regular topic of discussion, just like what’s for dinner. My children and I talk about how they can help me hear my best. I’m confident they will be better prepared to cope with the ups and downs of hearing loss should they experience it themselves.

I’m not sure why my father felt the need to hide his hearing loss. Was he afraid we wouldn’t love him if he were not perfect? Acknowledging my weaknesses helps my children see that nobody’s life is perfect. We all have struggles, but if we work together with respect and love, we can overcome almost any challenge.

I stopped hiding my hearing loss for my children. I thank them for helping me become a stronger, braver, more loving person, and for forcing me to embrace myself as I am.

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When you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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