Sixteen years ago today, at 4:19 PM, I gave birth by caesarean section to my first child. Today’s blog is dedicated to my beautiful daughter, Amber, who has given me more joy and laughter in her sixteen short years than I’d ever hoped to have in an entire lifetime.
What can I say about Amber? Even before she was born, she insisted upon being noticed. There would be no “flying under the radar” for this girl. She would proclaim her presence to the world and make sure those around her sat up and took notice. Let’s start back at the beginning…
Morning Sickness: Obviously the person who coined this phrase (must’ve been a man!) had never experienced it! In my case, it was “All Day Sickness.” Amber was determined to make her presence known in those early days of my pregnancy, and she did so with the worst morning sickness you could possibly imagine! And not just nausea; but full-blown empty-your-stomach of every tiny ounce of its contents sickness! I lost seventeen pounds in between my first doctor appointment at eight-weeks and my second doctor appointment at twelve-weeks…all because of “morning sickness.” It was brutal!
At about the 7-month milestone, the morning sickness diminished only to be replaced by contractions! Nope, I’m not talking about Braxton Hicks; I’m talking about the real-deal! Ms. Amber couldn’t be ignored…she just had to make her presence known! Unfortunately, this meant bed-rest for me.
One week before she was born, my doctor decided to do an amniocentesis to check for lung development. Due to some other complications (specifically having too much amniotic fluid, a condition called polyhydramnios), the doctor had decided that it would be best for me to deliver as early as possible, and that my labor should be induced under controlled circumstances. Before she could do that, however, an amniocentesis was necessary to make sure her lungs were fully developed.
A special high-risk doctor was called in to do the amniocentesis, and he pulled out the largest needle you’ve ever seen. It must’ve been a full 12-inches long and a half-inch in diameter! Okay, so it wasn’t that large in diameter, but it was a really big needle! As the doctor inserted the needle, our curious little girl insisted upon making her presence known by moving toward the needle! The needle had to be removed and reinserted so as not to accidentally poke her, and – when the needle was inserted the second time – she again “swam” back toward the invading object. This happened two more times before they could finally tap off some of the fluid! Thank you, Amber! You were responsible for me being poked a total of four times for a procedure that should only have taken one poke! And now – at 16 – you’re afraid of needles??? Give me a break!
When the doctor had completed the procedure, he looked over at me and said, “Mrs. A, if I don’t happen to be in the delivery room when this little one comes out, would you be sure to spank her for me?” Haha! Awesome!
The day arrived for my labor to be induced. I’d arrived at the hospital and been prepped overnight. All of a sudden, our little Amber decided that she’d had enough attention and decided she didn’t want to make an appearance after all! Seriously? They had to stop my labor twice leading up to this date, and now she’s changed her mind?? Uh-uh! I don’t think so! After several hours, the doctor decided to break my water and give me an epideral for the pain. I returned to my room to await the contractions to begin and then – though I’d just had a shot so that I would feel no pain – the contractions started coming hard and fast.
“Wow!” I said to the nurse. “Those are really strong! Should I be feeling those that strong? They just gave me an epideral.”
“Oh, you don’t feel those,” said the nurse.
“Ummm…oh yes I do!” I responded.
With a look of impatience, the nurse began walking over toward the contractions monitor saying, “Well, that’s highly unlikely but let’s take a look.” She glanced at the monitor for a second and then said, “Um…I’ll be right back.”
That was the last I saw of the nurse. Within seconds my room was descended upon by what felt like every doctor and nurse on the entire delivery floor. Without any real explanation at all, I was rolled back to an operating room where, within minutes, an emergency c-section was done and our little girl was brought into the world. Poor Troy! This whole thing happened so quickly that he barely had time to change into scrubs and, by the time he did, he had to go searching for the operating room since every single medical professional was in the operating room with me! He arrived just in time to witness the first incision; the doctors were in such a hurry that they didn’t even take the time to put up a “curtain.” It was that fast! To give you some perspective, when I returned to my room from receiving the epideral, I noticed that Oprah had just come on. That would’ve been 4:00 PM. Amber’s official time of birth was 4:19 PM. That means that I returned to my room, had time to feel the discomfort of the contractions, bring them to the attention of the nurse, have her nae-say that I was feeling contractions, change her mind, have the staff notify my doctor and rush me to the operating room, make the necessary cuts, and remove the baby…all in less than 20 minutes. That’s pretty danged quick!
Sixteen years have passed and each day has brought more joy, fun and drama than I ever expected to experience in this life. Our Amber has grown into a beautiful young woman who is athletically gifted, academically brilliant, and completely fun in every sense of the world. And the years have left us with many stories to tell to our grandchildren at some point down the line.
For instance, as a toddler Amber acquired her mother’s love for Garth Brooks. It wasn’t uncommon to see my sweet little 2-year old daughter using her bed as a stage and – with a hairbrush in her hand as a microphone – singing “Longneck Bottle” at the top of her lungs. Only, it sounded more like “Wong Weg Boggle!” And the names she came up with because she couldn’t pronounce them properly! Garth Brooks became Boo Bocks, Trisha Yearwood was renamed Tishi Airwood and Shania Twain somehow became Shania Twanni. Go figure! In fact, one of her earliest pieces of artwork was a portrait of Garth Brooks! Over the years, Amber continued to be a Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood fan and has been fortunate enough to meet Trisha once, and Garth on at least four occasions that I can remember off of the top of my head.
Apparently our little girl is still a Garth Brooks Fan, as evidenced by a recent trip to the Target Center in Minneapolis to attend a Lady Antebellum concert. While there, she located Garth Brooks’ star and just had to have her picture taken next to it. Yes, her mommy trained her well!
When Amber was 3 1/2 she begged for a dog, so we bought her the sweetest boxer imaginable. We allowed her to name the dog and – since she was into the Madeline books – she decided to name our new family member Maddie. Oh what an amazing dog, was our Maddie! Patient, kind, gentle…she was a little girl’s best friend. But that little girl was ornery and one day near the completion of a very long car ride from Oklahoma back to Minnesota, our Amber got “bored” and decided to see what would happen if she bit the dog’s ear. That’s right, folks! Most people have to worry about their dogs biting their children. Not us! We had to worry about our child biting the dog!
“Amber! What did you do?” I yelled, knowing that she must’ve done something to the dog to make her cry out like that.
“I’m sorry, Mommy!” Amber cried! I just wanted to know what would happen if I bit Maddie’s ear!
Seriously? Any other 75 pound beast of a dog would’ve hurt her, but not our Maddie. Like the rest of us, she loved our Amber to distraction.
Her creative mind didn’t end with the dog. One day in 1st grade, Amber convinced her entire class that she’d done some “hocus pocus” and caused her teacher – who’d just stepped out of the classroom for a moment – to disappear forever. A few of her classmates cheered, but more than half were really concerned about the teacher. Yes, I got a phone call from the principal for that incident.
Around 2nd grade, she received the “Gray Hair Award” from her gymnastics coach for causing him the most stress and worry. As a team gymnast, she spent a lot of time at the gym working out with older girls but, by being so much younger, she often lacked the common sense to stay out of their way. Keeping her from getting killed because she didn’t think to not walk in the path of an oncoming tumbler, for instance, became the #1 goal of her coach during those days.
In 3rd grade, she made plans to produce a music video. She’d written out invitations and sent them to all of her friends to participate, all without my knowledge. Oh, I knew she was thinking about it, but I thought it was all talk. That is, until the day I got a call from another mom just wanting to confirm what time she should pick up her son the next day.
“Ummm…I’m sorry?” I said. “I didn’t realize we had plans to have him over tomorrow.”
“Oh,” said the mom. “I guess I’m glad I called. Tommy said he was going home with Amber from school tomorrow so that they could get organized. I have a hand-written invitation in my hand – looks like maybe Amber’s writing? – inviting the kids to your house tomorrow afternoon at 5:30 to make a music video. You didn’t know anything about it?”
“Oh wow! No..not really! I heard her mention it, but didn’t know she’d planned it and that I was getting all of these kids at my house! How many did she invite?”
The other mom wasn’t sure, and so I let her know that we were going to need to cancel the “video shoot” and that we’d see what we could do about maybe rescheduling it. After conferring with Amber, I discovered she had invited her entire class and a few kids she rode the bus with! If not for that phone call, I might’ve expected about thirty kids at my house with no notice whatsoever! I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be mad. I don’t recall how I handled it at the time, but today it sure seems pretty danged funny!
Over the years, Amber had become a very talented gymnast; but, in 6th grade, she decided to take a break from gymnastics to try hockey. She’d been a gymnast for eight years and a team gymnast for five, and not once did she have an injury from the sport…until her gym class at school did a unit on gymnastics and – doing a simple cartwheel – she broke her foot. Seriously? In gym class? I knew she’d hurt her ankle, but I just assumed it was sprained and so it was three days before I finally took her in for an x-ray. Wow! Bad Mom of the Year award goes to me on that one!
The ankle healed, she finished her trial with hockey and went back to gymnastics. The next year, she broke her toe while walking across her bedroom floor. Word of caution to the kids out there: There’s a reason why your parents tell you to clean your room!
Fast forward another year or so to 9th grade and she sprained her ankle badly in…gym class! Yup…all of these years with gymnastics and never a single injury; but put the child in gym class or her bedroom and we have to deal with broken bones and bad sprains. This latest injury would take her out of gymnastics for a full 6 months!
As you can imagine, these days we refer to all “ridiculous” injuries as “Doing an Amber.” If one trips walking up the stairs, we might call that “Doing an Amber.” The most recent “Amber” occurred in the school cafeteria when she pinched her finger between the wall and a chair, badly spraining the finger and requiring three stitches. “What’d she do?” people would ask me. “Oh, ya know,” I’d reply. “She just did an ‘Amber.’”
These days Amber spends most of her free time with her boyfriend, Cory, and hanging out with her best friend Sarah – who deserves a blog (or at least an article) all of her own! She has expanded the circle of our family to include several wonderful kids – her friends – and watching her interact with them and plot all manner of hijinks has given us all even more joy. The only thing better than being a teenager, I think, is watching your own child and her friends being teenagers.
Recently Amber has taken to saying (with completely teenage attitude), “I’m sorry I’m not your ‘perfect’ daughter,” as a response to my disappointment at her attitude, or a drop in grades, or just a lapse in judgement. To that, I can only say this: Amber…I’m so glad you’re not my “perfect” daughter. You’re absolutely perfect as you are and my life would be extremely boring and lack all joy if you were “perfect” by the definition you’re using. You are absolutely the perfect daughter for me and, if I could’ve hand-picked every single thing I wanted in a daughter – the good and the bad – you are exactly what I would’ve selected. Never forget that!
There are so many more things I’d love to say about this beautiful girl, but for now I’ve roasted her enough and will leave it at this: To Amber, I love and adore you. I’ve been so blessed to have you as my daughter these last 16 years and am greatly looking forward to the next 16 years. Most especially, I’m looking forward to the day when you have a 16 year old daughter of your own. Bwaaaahhhaaaa!