Hi. I’m Amber. I tend to define myself as a dual-purpose individual: mom and writer. But I’m also a wife to an electric-guitar-playing environmental engineer (Cody), sister to two wonderfully witty and strong women (Corinne and Emily), former basketball player (hoister of three-pointers), oldest daughter to a couple of hilarious east coasters (Barb and Greg), longtime copywriter, accomplished worrier, and obsessive questioner.
Me, the mama
My daughter, Stella, was born at 3:26 a.m. on August 17, 2008, a day ahead of schedule and after 32 hours of un-medicated labor. Notice how I don’t necessarily call it a “natural” birth. How could any baby’s birth be called “unnatural”? Besides, that much pain doesn’t feel “natural.” (I’m tempted to remove this from the “About” section, as it seems totally irrelevant now. A foot note, perhaps. Borderline problematic in that it contributed to 48 hours without sleep before Stella’s arrival. But at the time it seemed super important and worth sharing. Oh, boy. I have learned so much since then.)
My husband and I were totally unprepared for what would follow her arrival. We’re told this is normal.
Stella was breastfed for three months. The plan was to do so for a full year. This dream crashed and burned, thanks to a lovely case of reflux and probable cow’s milk protein intolerance (or more accurately “my milk” intolerance), which caused Stella pain and led her to refuse to eat. Hypoallergenic formula and an NG tube followed. For a couple of tube-feeding months, it looked as though she would never resume normal, adequate eating. But thankfully, with some wonderful support that I was very fortunate to have, I successfully weaned her from the tube.
Here, I documented our journey toward a tube-free, food-friendly Stella. There was a point when we said, “Phew! That feeding fiasco is over, and now typical, care-free family life can begin under a beautiful rainbow of blissed-out normality!” Not so much. There was always this sticky layer of stress and struggle binding us, though we could never grasp it. Cody and I blamed ourselves for our inability to find a sort of parenting rhythm. I don’t know how else to describe it at this point, except to say that our life as a family was, and still does feel, harder than it should be: Outings, trips, simply enjoying a day at home, just getting anything accomplished seemed so difficult for us so much of the time. We knew we had to be doing something wrong.
Funnily enough, though no one was laughing, Stella’s eyes started crossing at around the 18-month mark. Later, we learned that her vision issues were accompanied by motor and sensory challenges that impact her development and regulation. Stella is currently doing occupational and physical therapy to help set the stage for more vision therapy to help her gain stable binocular vision. Stella has to work really hard to use both eyes together, and when she’s tired, usually starting in late afternoon, she sees double. (Note: She already did vision therapy as a two-year-old, but we need to address the foundational issues before vision therapy can really take hold.) I continue to post updates on how Stella is doing–with her glasses, eye patching, and multiple therapies–and on how I’m doing with parenthood in this unexpectedly complicated context. The highs and lows. Screw-ups and blow-ups. Triumphs and tantrums. The big. The small. The sobbing. As much as I can make time to share, and that all depends on how well Stella naps. Oh wait–she doesn’t nap anymore. Crap!
My writer self
I’ve been a writer for over ten years. Mainly a copywriter. Before Stella was born, I was a Senior Copywriter at an ad agency. Very Peggy-Olson-ish, except my pregnancy ended on a more positive note and I told Cody about it right away. The job was a lot of fun, especially on days when the Nerf balls and screeching monkeys soaring over my desk didn’t make contact with my face.
I’m trendy. Not in any way remotely related to my un-accessorized, minimally groomed appearance, but because I’m a “work-at-home mom.” I hang out with Stella full-time and fit in freelance work whenever I can. I try not to go insane. I’ve dabbled in journalism. I’m unbeatable in the sport of dabbling.
I have aspirations. Mainly to help Stella overcome her challenges. But also, to replace our disgusting duct-tape kitchen. To someday control my cowlicks. To get a chemical peel that will even out my blotchy face. To find jeans that don’t stretch into Bieber’s version of Hammer Pants. And, as with everyone else I’ve ever met in my entire life, to write a book. Maybe? Or just an article. Or maybe just this blog. Or a napkin-based series of scribbles. I want to tell a story of awkwardly yet triumphantly disagreeing with the status quo. That’s how we moved past her feeding tube and it’s how we’re navigating her strabismus and amblyopia and developmental delays. I don’t reject mainstream medical advice–I welcome it, but demand more from it. I ask a lot of questions. Our story is not just about shit hitting the fan, but about modern motherhood as I have experienced it—anxiety versus acceptance, and a strange mix of insecurity and bravery. Letting go while holding on. Peeing while soothing a crying toddler. Bribing a toddler to wear Parisian frames that most people would kill to wear. Setting up awesome pillow caves only to be told they are too lumpy. Something like that.
I’m genuinely glad you stopped by. Drop a line via email or comment sometime. Thank you for your time, interest, and (hopefully perfectly aligned) eyeballs.