When the doctor delivered the news that my ten-month old daughter Bette was hearing impaired, I was stunned.
How could that be? She makes noises. She is playful. She laughs big belly laughs. How can she not hear? There must be some mistake.
But it was no mistake. The doctor did his best to explain the diagnosis, while I sat and cried and my sweet baby girl played in my lap.
Follow up testing only brought more bad news. Not only was she hearing impaired, but profoundly deaf. She did not have the ability to hear any sound, at any decibel level or at any frequency. My daughter had been living in a world of silence the first year of her life and I had missed it.
I was devastated. I was devastated for her and about all the extra challenges she would face. It broke my heart that she would have to grow up being the child who was different. I didn't want her to be judged unfairly because she might have developmental delays. And I definitely did not want her to have to endure being stared at or receiving second looks.
I was also overwhelmed by what lay before us in terms of her treatment. I was astounded by how much I didn't know but needed to learn about hearing impairment.
I grieved for a long time, but I found comfort knowing that despite the late discovery of my daughter's disability, God had known about it all along. He had known about it on the day she was born and He had known about it during the first year of her life, even though I did not.
And God knew about it when He created my daughter. He formed her and shaped her in my womb. He is the one who sculpted her and made her as she is.
I do not understand why God allowed my daughter to be hearing impaired, and yet I believe He has a reason and that it is His will. God is just as in control of all the details of her life as He is of mine. And I know that He will use her disability for good, in both my daughter's life and in the life of my family.
Even already, many good and wonderful things have happened. Unexpectedly, my faith and trust in God has been strengthened. My family has also drawn closer together. And I am learning to slow down, let go of the frivolous and wasteful, and instead focus on what is most important. My life is much harder and more complicated now, but it is also richer and fuller because I have a child with a disability.
My daughter will always be profoundly deaf, but with technology, cochlear implants and a few intensive years of speech therapy, she will eventually be like every other child. She will be able to hear, speak and attend regular school, and unless we choose to reveal it, no one will ever be able to tell she is different from other children. We have a long road ahead of us, but if we persevere together, the rewards at the end of that road will be great.
Being the mother of a child with a disability is not something I ever expected to be, but I am grateful to God for granting me the great honor and privilege of raising a child with special needs. Whatever the future holds, for my daughter and for my family, I have great hope in God. I trust He has a purpose and that He will lead us, guide us, and do great and wonderful things through all the circumstances of our lives.
Taylor Martin Wise has a Master's Degree in Religion from Reformed Theological Seminary. She writes for the Atlanta Examiner and at her blog, Wise Family Living.