Navigating Motherhood with a Disability

A mother with short brown hair holds her preschool aged son and smiles while at the beach near the water.

I have an invisible disability. Chronic ear infections at a young age caused hearing loss in one ear and now, I only remember life being hard of hearing. I didn’t think much of it growing up and did my best to adapt — the last thing I wanted to be was different than my peers.

My disability became more challenging to navigate with age. As a kid, I always did well in school because I had to sit near the front, pay attention, and read the materials. Undergrad took more intention thanks to lecture halls and virtual courses; grad school was even harder because I was studying to be a clinician. Listening is key to being a quality healthcare provider, and I struggled to hear patients.

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Becoming a Mom

After my son was born, I really noticed how impactful my disability had become.

At work, the imbalance of sounds was distracting. Headphones and music helped me focus; they also limited interactions with coworkers. DFW is a culturally diverse area – a quality I love for myself and my family. Understanding colleagues with accents was incredibly challenging and frustrating, and I felt rude asking people to repeat themselves.

At home, I struggled to follow TV shows and my husband often sounded fuzzy. Once my son started talking, I found myself repeating “Mama can’t hear you; please tell me again.” My son had strong communication skills. I felt awful that my hearing was a barrier.

As if navigating new motherhood during a pandemic with a full-time job wasn’t enough . . . I felt very overwhelmed by my disability.

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Seeking Help

When my son turned two, I decided I was tired of suffering in silence. (No pun intended.)

I’ve always known I would need hearing support with age…yet a part of me always hoped I could manage without. I started the journey of finding a specialist to help navigate my options — whatever they were. Thankfully DFW has vast medical resources and my first referral panned out. The ENT seemed comfortable managing my case and initial treatment options sounded promising.

Woman wears headphones and points up with one finger during a hearing test.


For the first time in years, I felt relief and hopeful about my disability.


I changed jobs three months into working with my specialist and paused my progress to focus on my new role. Unfortunately, my insurance changed, and the potential costs were more than I was comfortable spending. My job was grant funded and potentially short-lived, so I put my disability on the back burner (again) . . . but this time, something was different.

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What Motherhood Taught Me

My disability is more impactful today than two years ago (my son is now four), yet my outlook is the most positive it’s ever been!

Being a mom has helped my confidence immensely.

I’ve never shied away from advocating for my son; eventually I realized I needed to do the same for myself. I slowly started telling coworkers I was hard of hearing and asking them to speak a little louder or put things in writing. To my surprise, no one batts an eyelash.

When I struggle understanding someone with a heavy accent, sharing my disability often creates an ease in our conversation as we navigate together. Messaging apps are also an asset..

At my son’s school, I now introduce myself first to other parents and created a mom group text for the class. Texting isn’t as personal but it’s helpful for learning names and getting to know other families. During play dates and birthday parties, I’m more comfortable sharing my disability because the parents are familiar. Truth be told, preschoolers are loud and I’m not the only parent struggling to hear (comically).

How I Feel About My Disability Today

I still struggle following conversations and feel left out at times. Some days I don’t have the energy to ask someone to repeat themselves or fill me in. Many days I’m exhausted from listening at work. Captions are now the default setting on our TV and Peloton. My husband doesn’t mind — and we can enjoy shows together.

Living in DFW has helped me embrace my unique traits, including my disability. I continue to meet people from different backgrounds and cultures with a vast array of abilities. Once I realized we all have something to navigate, I was able to embrace the confidence I gained through motherhood and be my truest self.

One day I’ll resume my treatment options. For now, I’m content with where I’m at in life. Plus, I love knowing I can roll over to mute my husbands snoring! 😊

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Jennifer Fiske
Jennifer ("Jenn") Fiske grew up in San Antonio as the only-child from a military family. She's lived in DFW for 10 years with her husband, and their family has grown to include their toddler son and a sweet puppy. Jenn is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a master's in exercise and sports nutrition. She worked with FC Dallas for several seasons while also coaching gymnastics at WOGA Frisco. She's also worked with Medical City Healthcare, DFW Airport, and Frisco ISD. Jenn is a self-proclaimed bookworm who bakes when she's stressed. Jenn loves being active through strength training and yoga and exploring parks with her son. When it comes to family feeding and nutrition, Jenn believes keeping things simple and lighthearted paves the way for enjoyable family meals.


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