You Can Do This


This past week I received this newspaper in the mail and realized that my article was in there! It was a great experience collaborating with Hands and Voices. The article is currently only available in the paper edition but I will be sharing it here for all of you! Fun Facts:

  • This is the first printed article where I got to include a photo of my whole family!

  • Coming up with the title was a reminder of my journey through my hearing loss. Shortly after losing my hearing, the world told my family and I the many things that I would not be able to accomplish in life. Today, I am here to motivate others, as my family did, "You Can Do This."

  • David's story is also featured on the Hands and Voices blog: HERE

You Can Do This

by David B. Cluff

In March I witnessed my wife, Heather, give birth to our second boy, Henry. I watched our midwife and nurses encourage Heather throughout labor and delivery. Phrases such as, "You can do this," or "Trust and listen to your body; you are capable of doing this," were expressed over and over. After a few hours of hard laboring, Henry was born. Heather was holding him in her arms and looked up at me with relief, saying, "I did this!"

This experience reminded me of the times I would often think about… "What if I wasn't born with CMV (cytomegalovirus), deaf or different from everyone else??" I lost all my hearing at age six and was fitted with my first cochlear implant shortly after. I remember feeling frustrated about feeling left out because I could not always hear everything. When I was about 13 years old, certain doctors, audiologists, and friends were placed in my life and they reminded me, "You can do this and be you." That is when I began to realize that I CAN be me and I don't need to compare myself to someone else or wish for things that define who I am today. I began to focus all my energy on living rather than dreaming about the what-ifs in life. When I was 16, I began working on building a website for deaf teens called "," a place where teens can connect and share their story. This project is a passion of mine and continues to be a big part of me.

Today, I am a proud father of two boys. Being a deaf parent and wearing cochlear implants is not always easy. My wife is hearing and so are our two boys. This lifestyle is very familiar as I grew up being the only deaf person in my immediate family. Before I got married, this question often crossed my mind, "Will I be a good enough parent even though I can't hear everything perfectly?" Heather and I spoke about this topic many times. She reminds me of my core belief:  "Be you and don't compare yourself to others."

In today's world, you and I experience many voices telling us what we should do or become, which often can get really confusing especially when it comes to choices that affect our families. Parenting really does not come with a handbook. I've learned that my two boys are very different from each other, as are most children. We can rally around others who have similar experiences and learn from each other. Through these individuals, we can take the lessons they learn and create tools that will work for our own families. Be open to help offered but remember, "You can do this and be you."

Editor’s note: The author, David B. Cluff is a photographer and motivational speaker based in St. Louis, Missouri who loves how photos are moments in time with a display of emotions and no sound. It is a reminder to take joy in every moment that life throws at you. Learn more about the author at including a regular blog about "silent moments" at