"My hearing dog has stopped me feeling like I am failing as a mother."

My name is Debbie, I’m 37, and I am deaf. My hearing dog has stopped me feeling like I am failing as a mother.

Here is my story.

Debbie with her children and hearing dog Clover

As a mother, my deafness constantly made me feel like I was failing. I always felt guilty. Guilty that I couldn’t hear my three children crying or calling for me, guilty that I wouldn’t be able to protect them if a fire broke out or if an intruder broke in.

My husband works night shifts, so I was alone with the children at night. I was too scared to go to sleep in case I missed an important sound. I would lay awake all night worrying, every single night. I felt physically and mentally exhausted, alone and miserable. Every parent probably feels like that now and again, but I was feeling it every single day and I felt like things would never change.

It hurt me that my beautiful children had to help me so much. ‘Shouldn’t it be the other way around?’ I thought. My oldest was only three years old when he had to first help me. He told a nurse that she had to “face my mummy because she can’t hear”. I burst into tears, as I was so proud of him, but also heartbroken that this was the shape of things to come.

Things that are simple for other parents are impossible for me, which also breaks my heart. I can’t do things like call the doctor when my child is sick, talk to their teachers on parents’ evenings, phone their schools, understand what is going on in school plays, and I can’t have conversations with other children’s mums and dads. These are just some of the barriers I face every day.

I try not to dwell on the things I can’t do, but it is hard. Things like hearing my husband whispering sweet nothings in my ear or being able to speak on the phone to my elderly grandmother who lives 500 miles away. I’ll never be able to do these things.

It is hard to explain the isolation and loneliness you can feel if you can’t hear. It cuts you off from the people around you; the people you love. It makes you too scared to speak to people for fear of embarrassing yourself or causing confusing. Because I can’t keep up with conversations, it was too difficult to take part in social occasions, of any kind. Christmas was particularly hard for me. Not being able to enjoy my children’s excited shrieks was really hard, but also watching everyone else go out to parties or spending time with friends, and not being able to do this myself, was really upsetting. Despite having a loving and supportive family, I couldn’t properly take part in Christmas because I couldn’t hear what was going on, so I always felt most alone at this time of year. I began dreading Christmas.

When Clover, my hearing dog, came into my life, everything changed. I finally feel like I can protect my children. Clover will alert me to sounds like the fire alarm, an intruder breaking in, or my children crying if they have an accident or a nightmare. I don’t have to worry. I can finally sleep. I’ve had the best sleep of my adult life since Clover became a part of our family.

Debbie and hearing dog Clover

When I am out and about with her, she gives people a reason to speak to me. I am getting more used to talking to people and not shying away. This has made me more confident and I am even going to a Christmas party this year, for the first time!

Clover helps me in so many ways. If I am feeling low, Clover will come over to me, put her paw on me and nuzzle her head into me. She’ll stay there for ages doing nothing but giving comfort. This may sound cheesy, but I swear she knows exactly when I need her most. She’s always there. Never needing conversation, never judging, never expecting me to understand her or expecting me to try harder to keep up with what’s going on. She’s just there, and that’s all I need from her. She came from Hearing Dogs for Deaf People as my ears, but she has become my best friend.

Please consider donating to Hearing Dogs and change the life of another deaf person just like me.