For me what made it start to make sense was the analogy to queer culture - also not something passed down from Mum and Dad traditionally, but you can't ignore the existence of it as a culture.
Since then, I've read books, I've taken language classes, I've started a parents' group, I've quit my job in television to go work for a non-profit Deaf services agency. We have a whole new set of friends, other families in our situation. Not a month goes by that someone doesn't contact me, saying hey, we just found out our baby is deaf, now what?
But it's still a struggle. Every activity - karate, gymnastics, swimming - is a whole new minefield of communication agony. My son's spoken English skills are off the charts excellent, and his reading is years ahead of his age of 5. So people forget, people have unrealistic expectations. His "word discrimination" rate is 95% with context and lipreading; 55% without. And that's in a soundproof booth. The real world is a bit of a nightmare. He gets targeted by bullies in the schoolyard, and singled out by teachers - even the principal - because he doesn't hear them coming and run away like the other boys.
And the worst part? I have a friend with two adult daughters, in their early twenties. One is Deaf, the other hard of hearing. The same battles I am fighting, she fought 20 years ago. And she is still fighting for her daughters, so I know I have another 20 years to go.