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 has done a lot of occupational, physical and vision therapy. We’re in a city with many renowned experts, thankfully. But we’ve flown to Cleveland to see specialists, and I’ve consulted with people around the world in order to find the best path for Stella.
I’ve been a writer for over 15 years. Mainly a copywriter. I’m currently employed at an agency. I feel lucky that I get to tell stories for a living.
I have aspirations. To complete a bathroom renovation. 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. About being not-quite-neurotypical and making peace with that.
Questioning the status quo is how I helped Stella get past the feeding tube and it’s how we’ve navigated her strabismus and amblyopia and sensory issues. I don’t reject mainstream medical advice. I welcome and seek out evidence-based approaches and research from pubmed.gov all the damn time. I LOVE VACCINES. When at first, no “experts” had real answers for Stella’s feeding or vision issues, I started asking 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.
I’m genuinely glad you stopped by. So much has changed since this blog began. We got through some really dark times and if you’re here during a tough time, know that you’ll reach the other side, too. Drop a line via email or comment sometime. Thank you for your time, interest, and (hopefully perfectly aligned) eyeballs.