Where do you look when someone doesn’t have eyes?

8 Feb

“what you need and what you want aren’t the same things,”

― Cherise Sinclair, The Dom’s Dungeon

Three weeks after we took Oli to LA to get her first pair of conformers we took her back to get her second pair. She was very fortunate because her right eye (the empty socket) actually stretched a considerable amount. The ocularist was able to fit her with a conformer twice the size of the first one. Sometimes conformer therapy just doesn’t work and kids are never able to wear them.

“So. . .Mr. Haddad, when are you going to lose the awful pegs and put flat painted conformers in? Next month? A couple of months at most, right?” I am incredibly impatient.

“No. It will actually be 2-3 more months before I can put a flat conformer in that right eye. It’s just too small. I wouldn’t be able to get it in or out of her eye without that peg. And she will probably be close to her first birthday before we put painted ones in that look like real eyes.” He explains quietly.

“Oh. That long huh? I guess that’s okay.” I almost start crying.

I was screaming inside my head,

No. No. No! That’s is absolutely not okay. I want to look into her eyes! Fake or not. I should be able to look into her eyes!

Where do you look when you are speaking to someone if you can’t look into their eyes?

To me, eye contact was very important. It showed people that I was paying attention, interested in what they were saying, and respectful. I could gauge their feelings and reactions to what I was saying when I looked into their eyes.

I had to learn with Oli that I could still do all of these things with her, in a different way.

I learned the delicate map of her facial expressions. The raise of her eyebrows and the little bit of furrow between them when she was listening. Her toothless smile, scrunched up nose and the turn of her head when she was happy.

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Her tightly pursed lips turned down at the corners when she was sad.

I learned to look at her whole face and body language to gauge her reactions and feelings. I learned to read her without making eye contact, but with the complete confidence that I knew her emotions.

I learned that I really didn’t need to see her eyes to make a connection with her.

I learned all of this. . .but it never changed the fact that I wanted her to have eyes. Real eyes, fake eyes, glass eyes, plastic eyes. I didn’t care. I wanted her to have them.

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3 Responses to “Where do you look when someone doesn’t have eyes?”

  1. Valerie February 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    What a beautiful little girl! I love her smile!! 🙂

  2. Alicia June 6, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

    Our daughter is 9 months old and has clinical bilateral anophthalmia. She’ll be getting her first pair of painted prosthetic eyes in 2 weeks. She’s had clear conformers with handles since she was 2 months old. I read this post and I cried. This is exactly how I feel. This is exactly what I’ve wondered about since she was born. This could easily have been me writing. Thank you for sharing your story.

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