When our youngest daughter Claire Harding was born in December 2017, my wife and I decided to name her after my Grandmother on my father's side. So for me, it didn't really come as a surprise to receive the news that my 5th child is not perfect. It was picked up very early that my little girl has significant hearing loss and like her namesake life is going to be challenging at times.

Instinctively I felt the need to accept this information in a positive fashion and truth be told I have always wanted to learn sign language. My reaction was to look at the most extreme case of total hearing loss and begin operating from there. That way if little Claire was granted some hearing rather than nothing at all, it would truly be a gift.

My humble belief is that people choose their life before they come down into this world, they choose the blueprint they want to work with and the lessons they need to learn. This belief allows me to find great inspiration, respect, and admiration for the people that have the strength and courage to choose a challenging life.

After numerous visits to different hearing specialists, it was discovered that Claire has moderate to severe hearing loss and would require hearing aids for the rest of her life. High pitched sounds are always going to be a battle for Claire and deep noises are going to be her strengths. I was elated with the news that my youngest daughter will be able to enjoy her own version of sound.

Then my mind flew back to my own experience at a dance party I attended many years ago at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, an event called Summerdayze. I have no idea why I had earplugs in my pocket that blocked out noise, especially at a dance party when the whole idea of the day is to appreciate sounds and noises coming from the speakers.

I took myself as close as I could get to a large speaker as the DJ cranked his hardcore techno tunes and I placed the earplugs in my ears, what I felt was an intense feeling of sensory deprivation. There was little to no noise coming through my ears and I felt the sound reverberating along the ground then up my legs and through my body. That feeling was amazing and beyond-belief.

Now here I was with my life partner getting our daughter fitted for hearing aids, my beautiful wife was overwhelmed with emotion at the thought that somehow she had contributed to little Claire’s imperfection and my heart hurt for her. She had tears in her eyes and that is when I noticed how vulnerable we all feel when we are faced with something that is out of our control.

We talked and comforted each other as the leaders of our family and my wife stared at Claire with both sadness and happiness. Claire was imperfect in the most perfect way, most parents will feel that their children are special and they have every right to feel that way. Every child is special and our daughter is going to teach us so many different lessons about our own need to be perfect.

Our little girl was brave enough to sign up for this life, to come through and teach everyone she meets that her challenges are blessings, it’s a reason for her to inspire, achieve and overcome, so for that I am thankful. There is this feeling when I look at her, a feeling of deep softness in my heart which means our imperfect little girl has started helping us embrace our own imperfections.

The ongoing support and guidance we have received from the hospital, doctors and ear specialists has been outstanding. I cannot speak highly enough of the health services we have access to in this incredible country. It makes me very proud and appreciative of this place I call home, Australia. Unfortunately, not every country is able to provide that level of care for their people.


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