Life as Amber knows it

"An adventure in the making…"

8 Acts Of Chivalry To Bring Back

Amber Jerome~Norrgard:

A-fuckin-men! This guy gets my vote for beyond fucking awesome and a gem in the world!

Originally posted on James Michael Sama:

The more women I talk to, the more I realize that the gentleman is a rare breed. The mission of the New Chivalry Movement is to bring men (and women) together who strive to be the best versions of themselves and love and respect those around them.

As the gentleman has become less prominent, so have the respectful acts that define him.

Here are 8 acts of chivalry we often overlook and should work to bring back.

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Giving up your seat.

Whether on a bus or on a crowded subway, giving up your seat to another is a rare but great sign of respect. I always cringe a bit when I see a woman or elderly person forced to stand while young men remain distracted by their phones. It all comes down to being aware of your surroundings and acting accordingly.

Only one in seven men will offer their seat…

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Thirty~Seven Things I’ve Learned in Thirty~Seven Years of Living

And we’re back to that time of year in which I reflect on what I’ve learned both throughout my life and in the past year.

1.) My whole “ugh” response to my birthday coming up has nothing to do with turning a year older. It does however have everything to do with how something always goes painfully wrong in the weeks before my birthday each year.

2.) Holding your guard up around people is both a pro and con. Because while you might be protecting yourself, you’re also running the risk of missing out on some incredible experiences.

3.) There are some hurts in our life we never heal from. They stay with us. All you can do is take a deep breath and remind yourself that you’re through it, and keep a pint of ice cream in the freezer for the times the memories are too much to bear.

4.) Most excellent stories start with the words, “So I was drinking tequila…”

5.) It’s alright to ask for help.

6.) Your past does not define you any more than the road you took to a new city defines that city. It’s just the path you took to your destination. What you do with the destination itself is what’s most important.

7.) Don’t waste your time on people or things that give nothing back to you.

8.) Never underestimate the power or the importance of a well deserved “fuck you”.

9.) I’ve found that I have absolutely nothing to say to anyone who pays more for a weekly rental on a vacation house than I spend in rent a year.

10.) It can be exceptionally painful to love someone who does not want that love.

11.) I’ve found that more often than not, when telling someone what I’m going through, all I want to hear is, “That sucks” and have them take my hand.

12.) I’ve spoken to people in groups of twenty-five. I’ve spoken to people in groups of over a hundred. I’ve interviewed for jobs I want badly. But nothing, and I mean nothing is as nerve wracking as standing up in front of your nine-year-old’s daughter class to read your poetry to them.

13.) The best line ever? “Because fuck you, that’s why.”

14.) The second best line ever? “Because squishy, that’s why.”

15.) You don’t have to understand it. You don’t have to like it. It doesn’t have to be something you yourself would do. But if it works for me and makes me happy, please support it. Thank you.

16.) At a certain age, booty shorts and crop tops are just sad.

17.) Never trust a woman who’s wearing more jewelry than clothing.

18.) Never trust a man who’s wearing more jewelry than clothing.

19.) If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

20.) It’s a sad commentary on the world that we live in that honesty has become the exception and not the rule.

21.) Ladies, occasionally put on that little black dress, that special necklace, and those rockin’ heels for no reason other than to celebrate yourself.

22.) If people don’t recognize you without your make~up and hair done, then you’re doing it wrong. And if the only non-photo shopped photos of you online are those other people post, I have no interest in talking to you.

23.) I have no problem saying I love my sweat pants.

24.) God was a bit busy when he was creating me. Which is why he gave me an awesome tattoo artist, to finish the body art he didn’t have time to complete.

25.) There is nothing quite as enjoyable as the look on your children’s faces when you inform them it will be a pajama day, and there will be breakfast for dinner along with lots of movies and junk food all day.

26.) If I can beat infertility three times, I most certainly can kick ass at anything I choose to.

27.) Hipsters piss me off because they only like what they’re told to like. Like something because it appeals to you, not because everyone else likes it.

28.) If you don’t know my birthday without Facebook telling you when it is, clearly, we’re not that close.

29.) One of the greatest things about having children is passing the phone over to them when a telemarketer calls and instructing them to talk about their latest bowel movement. I’m a bit surprised we haven’t gotten any calls recently.

30.) No matter how much time passes after we lose them, there are people we never get over.

31.) Sometimes, it’s best to clean house, not only literally, but metaphorically. That means if something or someone is no longer bringing anything useful or positive to your life, it’s time to let go.

32.) Editors are some of my favorite people. Because they’ve mastered the art of telling me I’m wrong without pissing me off, which was unheard of until two years ago.

33.) If you pay more for a purse than I do in rent each month, I’m not going to be able to talk to you because I’m going to be laughing too hard.

34.) The only dogs that need a fugly sweater are the ones who unfortunately do not have hair.

35.) My children have forever changed me in the best possible way. And I can never thank them enough for that.

36.) I’m at the point in my life where a good cup of coffee, some comfy pajama bottoms, and a good conversation is the highlight of my week.

37.) And I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

 

Much love (from a much older place),

 

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

 

 

“The Eve of Leaving”

EveOfLeavingCover.jpgJanuary 4 was a big fat deal for me: I got two new tattoos (well, the same one actually, except reversed under the words “courage” and “faith” on my wrists, which I’ll have done as spacers in between the words I’ll have placed there in the future), I celebrated the second anniversary of publishing my first book, and I, drum roll please, published my twenty-first book.

And it’s amazing how much things change in the space of twenty-four months. Back in January of 2012, I sat with my  hand hovering over the “publish” icon for hours before finally gaining the courage to take the final step to becoming a published author. Two years later, my hand hovered, but only for the reason I was being a smart ass and saying, in a very annoying voice, “Should I? Should I do it?” over and over until the friend I was having coffee with rolled his eyes and hit the button for me, not so I’d publish, but so I’d shut the hell up already.

But looking back over the past two years, it is amazing how far I’ve come. Used to, publishing was something that terrified me: I actually would have someone talk me into it, and I’d worry that my work wasn’t good enough, or that the work sucked, or that people would hate it. And people have hated my work and told me so in reviews. And what I learned from that is that while not everyone will like what you put out there, and you’ll feel disappointed (or massively depressed as I was with my first one-star review), there’s something to be learned from things not going how you hoped.

Such is the subject of The Eve of Leaving.

Love is one hell of an emotion. And one that is talked about and written about more so than any other emotion we feel. Songwriters wax poetic about falling in love and scream harshly about the same love when it ends. There are genres and sub~genres on the subject. Card companies always make budget due to the idea of love.

I myself am a writer about love, but more often than not, I focus on the idea of steering clear of the hearts and flowers aspect of it. I’ve written poetry and essays about the love between parent and child, long~time friends, life, and of the written word.

And I’ve written about the end of love. But I’ve never focused on only that.

So The Eve of Leaving is a collection of poetry written from the point~of~view of a person at the end of a relationship, during the falling~out~of~love period, during the heart~wrenching time after the break up. I drew on my own personal experiences, both good and bad, as well as those of loved ones after I asked them if they minded my using their stories for inspiration.

And as hard as it can be when we lose someone we love, still it’s a beginning. Because from each loss there are lessons to be learned, things to take with us. And eventually, the hurt will hopefully fade into something sweet we can look back upon and smile.

If you’ve never experienced the loss of a soul~mate or lover, than you are one of the lucky ones in this world. And if you have, I hope my words are a balm to your hurt.

You can snag The Eve of Leaving at Amazon.com and Smashwords.com and sooner (hopefully) than later, through CreateSpace.com.

Much Love,

 

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

 

Year-End Review and a ginormous thank you!

It has been one incredible year.

I began a non-profit organization, started my own publication company, published twelve books (and another two I collaborated on), scored the awesome job of adjunct professor with Collin County College, traveled, and put together IndieVengence Day, bringing seventeen Indie Authors (and several of their friends) together in Dallas, Texas for a huge-ass book signing.

There have been medical problems, bullies to contend with, and very hard decisions to be made. But there has also been a ton of laughter, love, and absolute pure joy.

And I am grateful for every moment of the past year.

And I’ve been so busy that I’m flying by the seat of my pants to get this post written and published, because it’s New Year’s Eve. The last day of 2013, a year that was impacting on my life in many ways. But it wouldn’t be right for me to not make mention of those who have made this year so wonderful, and who made the rough bits bearable with their support and love.

My readers: thank you for your continued support. I wish there was a way I could take each and every one of you out for a drink to tell you thank you in person.

Emily Bruce from Half-Price Books (and the crew at the HPB Flagship Store) as well as Alicia Auping and Jamie Laughlin from the Dallas Observer for all their help with promotions for the IndieVengence Day event.

My amazing kids for giving mommy five more minutes to finish up more work.

The Cafe Brazil Cedar Springs Crew for always brewing me my favorite blend and never once batting an eye at my odd choice in food requests: Tyler Hunt, Lauren Landreneau, Josh Lloyd, Christine Matz, Mychael King, David Tamayo, Bunnie Love, and Antonio Barrera.

My incredible friends that are still hanging around, even post-publishing psychosis: Sissie, Teak, and Ella Abarrerra, Erica Travis, Stephen Post, Marc Rainville, Thomas Licate, Ellen and Steve Bedford and Becky and Dan Loughin.

And these awesome bad asses, who make my life in the Indie Author Arena that much more hilarious and are always ready with a hug (or a threat to kick someone’s ass) on those days where I’m pulling my hair out and screaming into a pillow: Dionne Lister, Russell Blake, Barry Crowther, Derek McPhee, Charity Parkerson, Scott Morgan, Ben Ditmars, Melissa Craig, Ciara Ballintyne, Cinta Garcia de la Rosa, Julie Frayn, Sean P. Farley, Tracy James Jones, Mike Rogers, James and Claudette Peercy, Susie Clevenger, Justin Bog (oh great love of my life!!!), Michelle Franco (snort count winner of IVD), Deena Harrison, Natasha Head, Donna Cavanagh, Damien Boath,  Melissa Zaroski, and Helle Gade.

And a huge-ass thank you to Kim Stapf and Staury Papadopoulou for their continuous support and just being two incredibly awesome individuals I don’t know how I survived my life without.

If I  missed you, I apologize profusely.

Now? Now I’m going to go get ready to ring in the New Year with a dear friend.

Much love, and I’ll see you next year….

 

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

The Ten Books that Influenced or Stayed With Me.

After being tagged multiple times on a Facebook.com post Ten Books that Influenced or Stayed with Me, I figured, why not write a blog about it. Hard as it was to choose, after several days hard thinking, I came up with a list. So here they are. The ten books that have most influenced me and have stayed with me, long after I turned the last page and closed the book.

My first love...

My first love…

1.) Where the Sidewalk EndsShel Silverstein

This is the book for me, as in he is the one, the one book that brought me to the wonderful world of literature, of losing myself in the written word, of an addiction and love affair that has gone on for more than thirty years. Silverstein is also know for work such as The Giving Tree, A Light in the Attic, Falling Up, and Where the Sidewalk Ends, to name just a few of his many works. I can remember years ago, someone telling me that when they heard that Elvis had died, they sobbed, and not understanding why the person telling me the story had been so affected. When hearing in 1999 Shel Silverstein had died, I finally got it, the feeling of loss at an incredible creative in our world passing on and the knowledge that never again would there be more new work from someone so talented. But love is often eternal, and thirty years after coming across this wonderful piece of literature, I still enjoy reading it, most especially to my three children, who have been given a love of silly poetry by their dear ol’ mom.

standlead2.) The Stand, Stephen King

The book that holds the title of most copies owned by Amber goes to The Stand. Upon seeing the cutest boy in the eighth grade reading the book, I shyly asked him what he was reading. He loaned me the book and then later gave me my first kiss. The kiss lasted twenty-heart-pounding-seconds, but the love of this book has lasted much longer. To date, I’ve owned a total of eleven physical copies of the book, and of course the e-book version, which was the first book I purchased after I received my Kindle in 2011. The Stand might be a book about good versus evil, but what I took from reading it is that faced with the world falling apart and the bottom dropping out, people still came together, still fought for what was right, still worked to rebuild, despite the obstacles in their way.

fatal-exchange-cover-small3.) Fatal Exchange, Russell Blake

Say what you will about John Locke, he had a hand in bringing me to the Indie Author Arena. Back in 2011, Amazon made a suggestion based on other titles I’d bought for my Kindle. After reading Saving Rachel I emailed the author to tell him how much I enjoyed the book. Locke responded very graciously, and asked me to follow him on Twitter. Until that point, Twitter was just something I had signed up for as a way to pass the time while I was recovering from my partial hysterectomy. Sending a congratulatory tweet to Locke when he sold a million e-books resulted in Indie Author Russell Blake following me on Twitter, and having read his bio, I downloaded and devoured Fatal Exchange. Blake’s first book was so exceptional, I reviewed it and began speaking with the author on a regular basis. My friendship with Blake led to two friendships that were monumental in the final steps I took to entering the Indie Author Arena as a published author: Dionne Lister, my co-host of the TweepNation Podcast and dear friend, and Barry Crowther, the man who would read four of my poems and respond to the email with the words, “How much of this do you have? We need to get you published yesterday.” To date, Blake has published a total of twenty-five books in thirty months, as well as very kindly writing the foreword for The Quillective Project’s 2013 collaborative effort of Four Paws.

Tuesdays_with_Morrie_book_cover4.) Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom

My father has a knack of picking out excellent reads that are also life lessons. Tuesdays with Morrie was no exception. Touching, honest, powerful and relateable, this book had the effect of making me re-examine my life, how I was living it, and what is most important in the world. Ten years after reading it for the first time, I still pull it out and read through its dog-earred pages when I need a reminder of what matters most in this world. Tuesdays with Morrie is a damn good example of living while you’re still alive, and of saying what needs to be said before it’s too late. Much like The Stand, this is a book I’ve owned more than one copy of in print.

Albom’s  inspirational retelling of the last months of Morrie Schwartz’s life is a powerful lesson in what matters most and how life should be lived.

waiting for birdy cover5.) Waiting for Birdy, Catherine Newman

Back in 2004, I became pregnant with my oldest child, Amethyst. Unfortunately, due to the high-stress nature of my job, I found myself a Stay At Home Mother much sooner than I’d anticipated. And while baking a human bun in your oven is a very important job, it’s one that can take part in a multi-tasking type situation. Along came the message boards of BabyCenter.com, and with it, Catherine Newman’s most excellent parenting blog Bringing up BenNewman’s flat out honesty of what really goes on when pregnant, during and post labor (2X4 to the crotch anyone???)  and with a newborn in the house had me laughing hysterically. Two years into the blog, Newman published Waiting for Birdy, and I immediately snagged it. It has also been my automatic gift for friends expecting their first children, thus making it the book I have purchased the most in my life. When Newman ended her run on BabyCenter.com, I felt like I lost a dear friend.

evil-twin-stories-small6.) Stories my Evil Twin Made Up, Scott Morgan

You could say that Scott Morgan makes this list because he’s a sometimes-writing partner of mine. You could say that he’s made this list because he’s one of my closest friends. But then you’d be illustrating the fact that you  most likely don’t know me that well: Morgan is my partner in crime on certain projects because he’s excellent at his craft, and because he is one of my close personal friends, you know I’d never blow smoke up his ass (or anyone else’s for that matter) about their talent, most especially when it comes to the written word. The fact is, I’m a huge fan of his work, whether it’s the editing he does (and boy can he edit), his non-fiction, his teaching or his creative fiction. His style of poetry writing so impressed me that shortly after he and I met via Twitter, I emailed him to ask him to look over my own poetry. Stories My Evil Twin Made Up is  a prime example of pure awesome in that Morgan doesn’t stick with traditional story telling and instead does it in a way that is fresh, honest, and all his own. Morgan’s stories (whether penned by him or his alter ego Francois) play more like a movie in your mind than a story you’re reading on the page.

YesDay7.) Yes Day, Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I came across Yes Day thanks to the book fair at my oldest child’s elementary school. It’s a simple story really: the main character has one day a year that they’re given where everything they ask for: Ice cream for breakfast, staying up all night, you name it is a “yes.” My oldest daughter Amethyst was so charmed and enthralled by the story that when she asked me if she could have her very own yes day, I agreed, which led to several excellent memories with my first born that will live on long past the day we shared together. Never mind scoring massive points as the coolest mom ever, there was quality time with my daughter when we read the book, and memories she’ll look back on years later that I wouldn’t trade for anything, and I hope that one day, she buys this book for her own children and gives them the experience of never being told no, if only for a single day out of the year.

smallest narrowest places cover8.) The Smallest Narrowest Places, Derek McPhee

I met Derek McPhee like most of the author friends I’m blessed to have in my life: via Twitter. Derek replied to a tweet I’d posted with a hilarious comment, earning “Tweet of the Week” on the TweepNation Podcast. After I linked him to the show, I found out Derek was an aspiring author himself. I bought his book, started reading it, and liked it so much I invited him to be interviewed on the TweepNation Podcast. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until months later I’d get a chance to finish his book. When I did? I closed the book with an exhale, completely blown away by McPhee’s natural talent of pulling the reader into his story. I had to restrain myself from emailing the author to ask him about the character’s in his book, remembering I was reading fiction, not about real flesh and blood people.

I-Could-Pee-On-This-And-Other-Poems-by-Cats-19.) I Could Pee on ThisFrancesco Marcuiliano

I’m known for my laugh. Okay, that’s an understatement: my laugh is something people use to identify me. Related to that is the fact that I have a sense of humor that’s skewed and off-kilter: a friend saying a word in a certain way can have me howling for hours (and weeks after), my biggest problem as a parent is not laughing when my children do something horribly inappropriate which is none the less hilarious, and episode thirteen of the TweepNation Podcast is the episode that’s my go-to when I need to laugh like a braying jackass. A book of poetry that’s written by cats and how they’re going to terrorize their humans? So fucking funny (yes, I needed to drop that f-bomb in there to get my point across, dammit) that I pulled out my smartphone at a coffee shop and yelled at a friend to read it until he did (I’m nothing if not determined to get my way at times). The book is so frickin’ funny I actually stopped writing this blog post to go read it again.

operating instructions cover10.) Operating Instructions, Anne Lamott

Back in 2004, expecting my first child, I found myself unable to work due to high blood pressure (among other craptacular pregnancy woes). And reading has long been a means to escape for me, as well as being my favorite way to pass the time, although I’ll admit lately playing Candy Crush Saga while bullshitting with the servers at my favorite coffee shop has jumped to the top of my list. But back before I spent most of my time formatting other author’s books, teaching social media networking and giving creative development feedback to other authors (seriously, would you do your day job in your free time?), reading was numero uno for ways to spend my time. And being pregnant with my first child, I wanted a heads-up, so I began reading mom-centric writing as often as possible. More often than not, Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott was mentioned, quoted, and referenced, not to mention recommended by other mothers I’d speak with. Lamott held nothing back while writing about her son’s first year: not the pain of labor, not the exhaustion that accompanies the newborn phase, not the feeling of wanting to just chuck it all and give up. But one constant throughout her book, no matter the downsides of the newborn phase was the great and powerful love she felt for her son. And I can tell you, having had three children, the youngest of which are a short eighteen months apart in age, those simultaneous feelings of impotence and elation are the rule, not the exception.

Why are you still here? Go grab one of these excellent books and get reading!!!

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

Love at First Sight…

amahospital

Love at first sight…

At age twenty-seven, I fell quite deeply in love at first sight.

The object of my affection was short, fat, had no hair except for a dark brown mullet at the back of their head, was happiest when I’d pop out my boobs and only communicated by screaming holy hell at me.

But despite all that, my first-born Amethyst was a total keeper. I’m happy to report that today she’s tall (almost to my shoulders when we stand side by side), has beautiful brown hair, is able to make her own snacks, and loves nothing more than going out for a hot chocolate to talk with her mother in the low tones she most often employs due to her natural tendency towards shyness.

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Amethyst’s first Christmas at one week old.

Amethyst is the greatest dream I have ever had in my life, and with her birth, she gave me a name I’d longed for my whole life, “Mom.” And while the dream was one I’d wanted, the dream was hard to achieve: at age twenty I was diagnosed with Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, and at twenty-five with Endometriosis, both fertility issues that on their own can keep a woman from achieving biological motherhood. To this day, I can still remember the way the sheets of the hospital bed I was laying on felt in the recovery room at the hospital I’d had my first laparoscopic surgery at when I came to and my doctor told me he had found Endometriosis. My own adoptive mother had suffered from the illness, and the course of treatment for her was a complete hysterectomy at age forty. What followed my diagnosis was pain, both physical and emotional, tinged with fear at the possibility I might never know what it felt like to carry a life within myself.

amaoneyear

The “Oreo Cookie Incident”

I can remember a few weeks post-surgery, thick in the middle of hormones dropping and fears over riding every waking though, praying to God: “Just give me one healthy, happy baby. Just one. Let me have this one dream.”

It turns out God was listening. Six weeks after marrying Amethyst’s father, I found myself holding a pregnancy test in the bathroom at my work, watching the second line form and staring in disbelief at it.

amayear2

Age Two

And pregnancy itself was a battle: morning sickness that lasted well into the second trimester before giving me a month’s break before starting up again in earnest in the third trimester, blood pressure issues that caused me to stop working, insomnia, low progesterone levels that required medicinical treatment that only added to the exhaustion and nausea. But still, every moment was worth it. I’d lay in bed at night, one or both cats wrapped around my belly, and I’d feel my baby shift within me.

I was certain I was pregnant with a boy. So certain that I bought several skeins of blue yarn and crocheted several blankets (there wasn’t much else to do since I was unable to work). On the day of my twenty-week ultrasound, I waited excitedly to be told I was carrying a boy. When the doctor told me I was actually carrying a girl, I felt as if I’d been told I was pregnant again for the first time. The idea I might have a baby girl had never occurred to me.

Amethyst’s birth lasted thirty-eight hours, the first twenty-five of which were unmedicated. It took me over two hours to push her out into the world, and I was so exhausted by the final push I had a mental image of her hanging on to the umbilical cord for all her worth shouting, “Hell no! I won’t go!” She was born covered in meconium, and it was ten minutes of terror while I watched the NICU team work over my daughter to ensure she suffered no ill effects from meconium inhalation.

amayear3

Third Birthday

When they finally brought her to me, despite years of having infant cousins and friend’s babies to practice on, my arms shook and my mind insanely thought, “If I don’t hold her right, are they going to take her from me?” I held her, finally, finally, after years of wanting and waiting, looked into her perfect face, and lost my heart.

About a month after her birth, I saw the movie Kill Bill. And at the end, Uma Thurman’s character lays on the bathroom floor, sobbing over and over again, “Thank you. Thank you.”  That’s what it felt like. Joy and gratitude, tears and hope, life in all its beautiful glory wrapped up in a chubby ten pound gift of a miracle I was blessed with.

 

amayearfive

The very awesome Mrs. Berkline

With a younger brother and sister I have affectionately named “Things One and Two” due to their incredible ability to work together to get into everything under the sun, Amethyst is the one I refer to as “My Well Behaved Child.” Amethyst can be somewhat shy (although not so shy that she shouted, “I’m hiding in the car because I’m SHY!” at a friend when he said goodbye to her after meeting her, a story that still has us laughing almost a year later), but is thoughtful, considerate, kind, and compassionate. She loves arts and crafts projects, loves music and reading, and has dreams of becoming a veterinarian, a clothing designer, an author, and a ballerina. Amethyst is also extremely courageous: after a summer of stating quite emphatically she was absolutely not going to Kindergarten, she squared her shoulders, walked right into her classroom, and sat down at her desk. It probably helped that her teacher, the incredible Mrs. Berkline sent her a letter before the first day of school welcoming her to Kindergarten. And since she was brave, I kept my tears in check until I had cleared the classroom door and then sunk into a puddle of She was just my baby!

As a child, I’d ask my father who he loved the most, my brother or I. And he’d respond that he loved us both the same, just in different ways. I never understood that until Amethyst became a big sister herself: you love your children differently because they are different, and you yourself are a different person with each child that comes into your life to expand your heart farther than you thought it was possible to grow.

amafinal

I think you can guess her favorite color…

In June of 2012, I reconnected with an old friend. After attending a writer’s workshop together, we went out to lunch. And he asked me what I had learned from being a parent. “That I have far more patience and love than I thought possible,” was my response to his question. And that is what the grace of motherhood has taught me: that there is no end to patience or to love when your heart has been stolen from you. I look at my daughter, at her beautiful, perfect face, and I see the miracle I was given nine years ago.

So many people take for granted the gift of parenthood. They consider it their right. But the fact is, as parents, we’re the guardians of the souls of future adults who will inhabit this planet. We are given the precious gift of the continuation of ourselves in our children, first as they grow within us, then as they enter the world and take part in it. They learn by watching us, how we act and how we react.

I look at my daughter, and with every hug she gives me, with every time she takes my hand, with every conversation we have (and you have to listen closely, because Amethyst is soft spoken, but well spoken, even at the young age of nine), I rejoice in this precious, precious gift I was given. If anything, I hope I give to her the gift of knowledge, not only of life, but that of the fact that I love her, more than I thought was possible.

She is the miracle of life, and she is the miracle of love.

Happy Birthday Amethyst. Thank you for giving me the gift of motherhood.

 

~Amber Jerome~Norrgard

 

Knowing “No” is right….

Last Friday night, after a particularly rough, emotionally-draining week, I had planned on going out with friends to blow off steam.

Instead, I found my ass planted in my desk chair, purple pen in (horrifically aching) hand, scribbling poetry in my notebook. And something I’ve never experienced before happened: I couldn’t stop. I even responded to an email to a friend saying, “Hey, eat something for me, I can’t stop writing.” I’ve been inspired to write short stories and cranked them out over two days. But never have I felt compelled to write my heart and soul out on the page like I was on Friday night. Empty stomach and exhausted body could wait, my passionate muse could not be ignored.

What resulted from that heartbreaking week was a book of poetry I wrote in under five hours. Thirty poems, all stemming from hurt, fear, loss, and the healing power of renewal and love.

And I’ll never publish it.

As authors, we find inspiration in different places: seeing a couple in a restaurant on what’s clearly a first date that’s going very well, something someone says to us, a song we hear on the radio, personal experiences, both good and bad. Ten months ago, I made the decision to not publish Searching for Ellen because it wasn’t right for me to do so for various reasons. And today, I made the decision to not publish One Night,
despite the fact it contains the most personal and powerful poetry I’ve ever written in my life.

But despite One Night being so powerful, again, it’s very personal. It means something to me due to the nature of the subject matter. It’s precious, and it’s my heart and soul being laid bare. But it’s also mine. It’s the summation of blessings and gifts and something I never thought I’d be so lucky to experience. And to share it would be to diminish what the poetry within it symbolizes to me.

It’s enough to know I wrote a book of poetry in under five hours. It’s enough to know that I had passion in those hours to write about something that has forever shaped the way I see my life, and more importantly, myself. My ego does not need to be elevated by my publishing something so beautiful for the sake of people being amazed I did something so rare.

It’s mine, and like a large chunk of my life, I’ll be holding what’s mine close to my heart without allowing it viewing for comments and criticism.

 

Much love,

 

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

Much~Wanted

The night before Autumn blessed us with her life...

The night before Autumn blessed us with her life…

Five years ago today, I was hugely pregnant, unable to get out of my chair or roll out of bed without assistance. I no longer was able to walk, instead, I waddled like a duck to balance the fifty-pound annex on the front of my body in an effort to keep from tipping over.  Sleep was nearly impossible, because if I didn’t need to pee, I couldn’t breathe from the baby squishing my lungs, and if I could breathe and wasn’t peeing, Autumn took that opportunity to kick my internal organs in alphabetical order.

And I loved every minute of it.

Autumn was a hard-won, three-year long battle with my body. Three failed rounds of the fertility drug Clomid, one miscarriage and one surgery finally resulted in a pregnancy that had long been dreamed of. And it was a pregnancy tinged with the fear of loss due to the miscarriage of a baby that will forever in my heart be the son or daughter I did not get to meet.

autumn 007

Finally!!!

I didn’t care if the second baby I had was a boy. I didn’t care if it was twins or triplets. I didn’t care if the baby came out purple with pink polka dots and had to live under water. I wanted a second child to love, to experience more of the sheer blissed out joy I was blessed with in my first born child Amethyst.

Scheduled for a induction, I laid down the night before at 11:30 p.m., grateful I’d get sleep before my second child arrived. True irony was discovered an hour later when my labor began at 12:30 a.m. on November 25, 2008. My contractions hit every three-and-a-half minutes, and this time, rather than focusing on the fact I was in labor, I focused on my oldest daughter and what was best for her: my water hadn’t broken, the contractions were steady and not increasing in intensity, so there was no reason to wake her up and take her to my brother’s until things began to speed up.

First Birthday

First Birthday

I walked for several hours (years later I’d retell the story to a friend who laughed when I referred to that part of my labor as “walking it off”) around our apartment, made certain everything was ready to go, blogged, looked at jeans online I’d be able to wear after I got my pre-baby body back. I took a long, hot shower, and unlike my labor with Amethyst, took the time to put on make up and braid my hair back.

But like her big sister, once things started going, there were terrifying moments during my labor, the worst of which was when Autumn’s heart rate started dropping and my labor stalled out. But shortly after my sister-in-law arrived (god bless my younger brother for taking on two boys and my daughter so his wife could be there to support me), a change in position cranked everything back up, Autumn’s heart rate returned to normal, and it was time.

Unlike Amethyst’s birth, there was no released meconium to contend with, no rushing around in silence of the NICU staff trying

Love at first sight. Among the many people Autumn loves in this world, her younger brother is at the top of the list.

Love at first sight. Among the many people Autumn loves in this world, her younger brother is at the top of the list.

to protect my child from infection. With Autumn, I pushed four times, and she came into the world, perfect, pink, screaming and glorious. There was no rush to cut the cord, no taking her from me immediately to be worked on. Instead, she was placed on my belly immediately, and I held her close to me, tears coursing down my cheeks at the miracle that she, this child I so desperately wanted, was finally with us. There she was, this beautiful soul, so very much like her sister in size and features that my heart was seized with nostalgia and gratitude.  “Thank you,” I kept saying over and over to God, to the doctor who had battled just as hard as I for this life, to the nurses, to life itself for such a gift.

Autumn Morgaine came into the world loud, and she lives each day the same way: Loud, outrageous, glorious, gorgeous, amazing, and miraculous. She captivates everyone who meets her, even those who claim they can’t stand children. Taking her with you to run errands is like being the part of a movie star’s entourage: everyone wants to meet her and chat her up. Out of my three children, she is the one who is most like me: in ten years, if she were to dye her hair red, she’d be

Mini~Me

Mini~Me

just as I was at fifteen. She is kind, and generous, and loves passionately everything from family members to friends to arts and crafts and food. She tells you exactly what she’s thinking when she’s thinking it, and she makes certain you know what she wants.

She’s loud, brash, full of life, and one of the most amazing souls I’ve been blessed with in mine. I was given a miracle when I was given her. Her smile captivates, her eyes sparkle with mischief, and she encompasses everything I find wonderful about the world: generosity, kindness, unconditional love, passion in all things, joy, and a sense of humor that never fails.

Being Autumn’s mother has taught me more than I ever could have imagined. That it’s important to fight for what you want, that there is nothing more enjoyable than laughing for the sake of laughing, that the hardest won gifts are the ones we cherish the most. And that love can heal most hurts.

I believe we’re blessed with people in our lives at the times we need them the most. Autumn has been my blessing for not just the five years she’s been living in this world, but since the moment the second line on the pregnancy test showed up. Because I learned from my experience of trying to conceive a second child that it is important to cherish all the moments, good, bad, morning sickness induced, loud, exhausting, painful, beautiful and long-awaited.

Autumn, thank you so much for being one of the most precious parts of my life, of teaching me daily how to love more fully and

Best reason to get up every morning... Her amazing smile.

Best reason to get up every morning… Her amazing smile.

patiently. For gracing me so often with your smiles and hugs and your sense of humor. For being so happy when  you hear someone tell you that you look just like your Mommy. Thank you for the messes and the art work and the unplanned for pancake dinners you always ask for. Thank you for being a miracle I’ve been blessed with. I love you more than I can ever tell you, and I can’t wait to see the woman you become.

 

Much Love,

Momma.

 

Flashback: Why I’m celebrating the anniversary of my hysterectomy

Three years later, I still celebrate the day I lost my uterus. For me, it was a decision I made on my own terms, and one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made, and one I have never once regretted. Originally posted on Indie Author Barry Crowther’s website, this essay was also the first guest post and my first foray into the Indie Author Arena. It is also an essay I’m still proud of today, and one that also appeared in my book, 4 a.m., a collection. It is also the essay that has received the most feedback from readers. I hope you’ll indulge me as I repost this again this year:

 

 

Why I’m celebrating the anniversary of my hysterectomy

Once upon a time, there was a little auburn haired girl with big green eyes. When people would ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up, her answer was always the same, “A mother.”

Okay, so that may be cheesy, but it’s the truth. The only thing I have ever wanted desperately was to become a mother. I always figured my life would go something like this: Go to college, get degree, meet guy, marry guy, buy a house, start feeling a big sick to my stomach, go to the doctor and be told, “Congratulations! You’re pregnant!”

Of course, in my life, nothing EVER goes according to plan.

To being with, I pulled out of college at the last minute. For me, it was a necessary decision: I had no idea what I wanted to do other than be a mother. Wasting four years and my college fund, not to mention the scholarships I earned for my writing, would have been a gigantic waste. So, I continued with my job in the retail market, and the truth is, I really liked it. I was damn good at it, and got promoted to management, which I loathed. I liked being a grunt and getting down and dirty with putting stock up on the shelves.

At nineteen, I made the mistake of marrying a man who I knew was the worst thing for me. But I wasn’t strong enough to break free. What followed was four and a half years of being humiliated, treated like shit, and spending most of my time alone and depressed. What finally opened my eyes was him breaking my ribs throwing me against the wall after I became angry to find out he had, once again, cheated on me. But that final time, not only had he cheated on me, he had gotten the other woman pregnant. I left for good, filed for divorce, and watched from a distance as he lost his job, sunk even deeper into alcohol abuse, and got arrested for a DUI.

I had been diagnosed with Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome at age 20, and right before my 25th birthday, was literally bitch-slapped with shock when a pap smear turned up abnormal results. After further testing, I found out I had the beginning stages of a very aggressive cervical cancer. Fortunately, it was caught very early, and I underwent the LEEP procedure, which in layman’s terms means the OB numbed my cervix, shot it with a laser, and then removed the cancerous tissue. Three days later, I was back in the doctor’s office, suffering from pelvic inflammation. All I’ll say about PI is that any time I’ve read about it being a risk for a procedure, my first response has always been, “Oh shit… not again!” While I’ve thankfully never had a recurrence, every pap-smear has sent me into a tail spin of anxiety.

In early December of 2002, I finally agreed to have laparoscopic surgery to see if we could narrow down what had been causing me such horrifically painful periods. Just six weeks shy of my 26th birthday, I went under the knife and camera. Coming out of anesthesia, Dr. Fong was there, and he said the words that would shatter my heart: “I found Endometriosis.” I had began dating a close friend after my divorce, and we had fallen in love and just gotten engaged.

No one knows what causes Endometriosis, which is a condition in which the lining of the uterus is found outside the uterus in places such as actually on the outside of the uterus, on your ovaries, on your fallopian tubes, other internal organs, and in one horrific case I read about, they actually found it on a woman’s brain. The endometrial tissue acts just like it does within the uterus: once a month, it swells up and then sheds, but unlike in the uterus where the shredded tissue is removed by nature’s monthly gift of all around psychotic behavior, cramps, and gorging yourself on chocolate, the tissue outside has no where to go. Endometriosis is an illness where there are no outward signs: You can have the illness, and no one would know unless you told them. The only way to diagnose it 100% is through laparoscopic surgery, which also has the added benefit of treatment by lesions being removed via laser. It is one of the leading causes of infertility in women. A woman with endometriosis can undergo laparoscopic surgery to “up” her fertility (and boy, can it ever, but that’s for later). For me, having Endometriosis, before and after my diagnosis, was horrifically painful, and most months, it was debilitating.

But the worst part for me wasn’t the physical pain: it was the emotional pain. The idea I might never have a baby broke my heart. The idea I might not be able to give Brian a baby ripped me into pieces. I wanted one thing in the entire world, to be a mother, and I didn’t know if I was going to get that chance.

So I began taking a high-level birth control pill to keep my cycle under control and hopefully contain the endometriosis. Which for the most part, it did accomplish; but the further out from my surgery I got, the worse each month got. I gained 30 pounds from the birth control, not to mention the loopy and sluggish effect the pain medication I was prescribed had on my body. And somehow, strangely, knowing what the actual issue was made the physical pain that much worse. It should have been the happiest time in my life: I was engaged to a wonderful man, but I was heartbroken I might not be able to give him biological children.

Flash forward about a year: Brian and I got married in Las Vegas. I’d stopped taking birth control six months before our wedding in the hopes that by the time we got married, I’d be ovulating again. No such luck. Two weeks after our honeymoon, my period came to visit. When my next ovulation time came up, both Brian and I were horribly busy with work. I can remember that night so vividly: It was the last night of my ovulation cycle. I looked at Brian and said, “I most likely won’t get pregnant, but let’s have sex just to have sex!”

Three weeks later, feeling nauseated, needing to pee every two minutes, missing my period, and feeling like my boobs were about to explode, I took a pregnancy test. I didn’t even have time to set it down before the second line showed up. “Oh. My. GOD!” I called Brian at work: “Brian, you’re going to be a father! I’m pregnant!” To which he replied, in the most loving manner you can say the following words, “Holy shit!”

Amethyst was born on December 18, 2004 exactly on her due date. She was perfect. My younger brother, upon seeing his brand new niece, said in a reverent whisper, “My god, she’s beautiful!” We were totally, completely and deeply in love with this little angel, this miracle, this dream we were blessed with. We still are, even moreso to this day, almost seven years later.

We wanted another child. Not to have another child, but because we were so crazy about Amethyst and just loving our little family, we couldn’t imagine not having any more children. So after Amethyst turned 1, we started trying. And we tried, then tried again. I could go on, but I won’t. A year after we began trying, I started on Clomid, and went through the hell of every single possible side effect you can get. On cycle three, my period was late. But every single pregnancy test I took came back negative. Finally, fifty-eight days into what was a usual twenty-four-day menstral cycle, I went into see my OBGYN. The news was bad: Not only was I not pregnant, I had hyper-stimulated my ovaries, and had a total of eight ovarian cysts split between the two.

I went home with orders to take my prescriptions, to couch it, and to come back in two weeks. I also was resolved. I could no longer take it. Month after month of not getting pregnant was ripping me apart. I couldn’t stand what it was doing to me. I had a wonderful husband and a beautiful, healthy and happy daughter, and both were a blessing. When I got home and told Brian, he was his usual supportive self. We decided that while we weren’t going to prevent pregnancy, we were no longer going to try to achieve it.

I spent the next several months just taking it easy and healing from the cysts. My heart began to heal as well, and Brian and I began talking about the possibility of adoption. I myself am an adoptee, so I know first hand that families are made by love, not by DNA.

In July of 2007, I was cleaning out our bathroom when I came across a pregnancy test. I noticed it would expire in one month, so I figured, “Hey, why not? No one else is using it and it’s going to go to waste anyways!”

It was positive.

I was in shock. We had tried and tried to conceive with no results. I took fertility drugs, with no results. I go out and buy a new wardrobe and BAM, I’m pregnant. I was ecstatic! We called everyone, and everyone cheered with us. After 20 months, we were finally going to have a second baby.

A few weeks later, I went to the bathroom, only to discover I was bleeding heavily. I called my OBGYN but he was out of town on vacation. I spoke to the on-call doctor, and what he had to say was grim: If I were losing the baby, there really wasn’t anything they could do for me except ease my physical pain. I spent that night in denial, tears streaming down my face, and the next day, I went in to have a sonogram. I felt ten feet outside of my body, as if I were watching myself. I was dazed. I was in shock, so much so that I did not realize I had been slowly plucking the hair out of my arm.

The sonogram room at my OBGYN’s office is a dream come true if you have a pregnancy that’s progressing correctly: leather reclining seats, DVD burner for the sonograms, big scream television so you can see Little Bit so much more clearly than if you’re craning your neck repeatedly to look at the doctor’s computer screen. But when things have gone wrong? Staring at your empty uterus makes you want to scream at how unfair the whole fucking thing is. How you’ve worked and prayed and begged and practically sold your soul for the greatest gift you could ever receive, and you finally get it, only to have it ripped away from you almost immediately.

The doctor and the nurses all told me they were sorry, as well as the rest of the office staff. Irrational as it may seem, I wanted to shout at them, “Fuck your apology! Do you think you telling me you’re sorry is going to bring my baby back? Do you think it’s going to ease my pain?” But I didn’t. I held it together until I got home, but once I saw Brian’s blue eyes raised to mine like a question, I lost it. I sobbed until my throat was a raw, scratchy mess. Brian made the telephone calls I couldn’t bring myself to make, and I emailed other people that knew, telling them I had lost the baby, and that I’d appreciate it if they’d give me some time to myself and to never bring it up.

I closed myself off from everyone except for Amethyst and Brian. I felt angry. I felt empty. I felt like a complete and total failure. I knew that everyone was there for me, that they loved me and that they supported me, but I wanted to be left alone.

A few weeks later, my brother and his wife told me they were pregnant. They were very sensitive and kind, taking into consideration what Brian and I had just gone through. I had an odd mixture of emotions: I was happy and excited that I was going to be an Aunt again. But I was sad that I wasn’t going to be a mother for a second time. Not once did I feel anger towards my younger brother and his wife; how could I? They did not get pregnant to cause me pain; they did it for their own growing family. Throughout the pregnancy, though, it was a reminder of what I had lost. Every time my sister in law hit a milestone, I’d think to myself, “I would have just done that….”

By February of 2008, it was very obvious I needed to repeat the laparoscopic surgery. My periods were once again quite painful, and had become extremely erratic. I needed some relief, even if it was only for a small space of time. The surgery went fine, and my recovery was much easier than the first time I went under the knife and laser. Towards the end of March, I was talking to my sister-in-law on the phone and mentioned that I was late for my cycle, but fine for the medical community’s cycle. “Go buy a test then call me back and take it while I’m on the phone with you!” My sister-in-law was nine huge months pregnant at the time, and in total honesty, I really wanted to be in the delivery room when my new nephew was born. You simply do not piss off a pregnant woman, so I ran to the store, bought a test, got home, went into the bathroom followed by Brian while dialing, and yes, I peed while I was on the phone with my sister-in-law. Within three seconds, the test was positive.

We were all ecstatic. But I was certain something would go wrong. I spent my entire pregnancy on edge, filled with worry, wondering when the bombs were going to start dropping from the sky. To lose another baby would have shattered me completely.

On November 25, 2008, Autumn came into the world: bright eyed, gorgeous, and perfect in every single way. She looked so much like Amethyst I couldn’t stop myself from saying it over and over again. “You’re sure she’s fine? You’re sure she’s healthy?” I kept pestering the pediatrician. Now almost three years later, Autumn is the comedian of the family, full of life, and determined to find trouble if there’s none laying around waiting for her.

About six months after Autumn was born, the endometriosis came back, and it came back with a vengeance. I was furious. I had two beautiful daughters, both of which were gloriously healthy, and I wanted to spend my time with them, not spend it curled up in pain on the couch from a god-awful period. In July of 2009, I made an appointment to see my OBGYN. I told him I had thought very hard about it, and that I wanted a hysterectomy. I was tired of the horrific pain, the random periods, and exhaustion that came with it all. My doctor listened, which is why I’ve been with him for twelve years. He explained to me that while it might become a reality some day, having a hysterectomy was a huge shock to the body, and if we could hold off on it, just for a bit longer, it would be best for my health. We agreed to repeat the laparoscopic surgery, again, and that I’d continue with my super-strength birth control pills.

Surgery in August 2009 went as it should. My recovery was about the same as it had been in 2008, and I was just grateful to have a period that was what most people would consider normal. My life was going fantastic: Brian and I had been happily married for five years, and we had two beautiful, healthy daughters. One night, we were sitting in Brian’s home office, I looked at him and asked, “Would you ever want a third baby?” He looked at me and said, “If it’s that important to you, then I could get on board with it. But I’d want us to be more financially stable.” Which made perfect sense to me, but I did not even know if I wanted a third child. It seemed like we were asking for a kick in the ass to have a third when we had already been so blessed with our two girls, never mind the fact that I shouldn’t have been able to have children.

One night in early October 2009, I was trying to go to sleep when out of nowhere, my heart started racing and I broke out in a sweat. My stomach started churning, so I ran to the bathroom and vomited. “What the hell?” I said. The next day, I was horribly nauseated, and threw up three or four times. On day three, I decided enough was enough and was going to the doctor. But my GP wasn’t in the office that day, and I was miserable, so I went to a walk-in clinic. Three hours later, they took blood and had me give a urine sample. I had my head between my legs and was trying not to vomit yet again when the doctor came in.

“Did you know you’re pregnant?” She asked.

“That can’t be. I’m on the pill.”

“Well, you tested positive for pregnancy, and the pill is only 97% effective.”

“Yes, but I’m considered infertile.” And so on and so forth. I couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t believe it. I mean, come on! Three rounds of Clomid has just hyper-stimulated my ovaries. It took me ages to get pregnant with Autumn, and that took surgery to accomplish. I stayed in denial all the way to the check-out counter while I paid my co-pay, all the way out the door, and all the way to the closest drug store where I bought a pregnancy test. They had to be wrong. There was no way I could be pregnant.

I arrived home, got Brian, and stomped into the bathroom. I don’t even know what I wanted the test to come out as. Brian had always said two kids were fine with him, that we had a perfect little family. If I could choose exactly how many kids I could have, it would have been three, but not without my husband being 100% on board with it. I sat on the lid of the toilet, waiting for the test to complete.

It was positive.

I burst into tears. Not because I didn’t want to be pregnant; but because I was pregnant and that meant nine months living in fear of having my heart broken if I lost this baby, and because I honestly was not sure how Brian would react. We hadn’t planned on this, and we’d figured with my fertility history and birth control, we were free to get down to business whenever we wanted.

I took a deep breath and looked up. There stood my husband of almost six years, grinning like a kid in a candy store, which calmed me down. I made a phone call to my OBGYN’s office and left the doctor this message, “The next surgery you perform on me is to make sure I’m sterile. Every time you operate, I get pregnant.”

The next nine months were a bit of a haze. I was worried about us making ends meet. I was worried about our vehicle situation. I was terrified of what went into two under two, both in diapers, because I’d seen it first hand with my brother and his wife’s second and third children. I was worried that having back to back pregnancies would be bad for the new baby. I felt horribly guilty and bad for Autumn, because unlike Amethyst who had one on one time with me for almost four years before she got a younger sibling, Autumn would only be eighteen months old when the new baby would arrive. Would she feel neglected? Would she hate us? Would she try to eat her new brother or sister?

Delivery day arrived, and I was a bundle of nerves. I was induced, and four contractions in, the anesthesiologist arrived to give me my lovely epidural. Before the sixth contraction started, I was totally numb from the waist down. The day passed by slowly with periodic visits from my doctor. I passed the time taking advantage of the hospital’s WIFI and played games while we waited. When I finally reached 7 centimeters dilated, my sister-in-law came up to the hospital to be a second support person. Finally it was time.

My son, the greatest surprise I’ve ever been gifted with, was determined to make a huge entrance.

Right as I was starting to push, I began to feel my toes. The next thing I knew, a contraction was ripping through me, and I screamed, grabbing hold of the bed rail. The nurse looked at me in a panic and asked, “Is the epidural not working?” I shook my head no, and she ran over to the dispenser, gasped and exclaimed, “Shit!” and ran to page the anesthesiologist. Pain was ripping through me every minute, over and over again, and getting stronger with each contraction as my body un-numbed. I pushed as hard as I could with each contraction, knowing that the only way to stop the horrific pain was to get the baby out. I thought of my grandmother and how she had only two out of nine deliveries in a hospital, no benefit of even Demerol to get her through. I thought of how only I could get me through this, and reminded myself that the calmer I remained, the easier it would be. I fought against tensing up, and just concentrated on pushing the baby out. At one point, Brian was holding my right leg, and the labor and delivery nurse was holding my left leg up, and my OBGYN was telling me, “You need to push harder, Amber. Harder!” I was so exhausted and loopy from the pain that I could actually see myself pulling my leg away from Brian and kicking the doctor in the head and asking him if that was hard enough. Finally, forty minutes after I started pushing, I felt a horrific ripping pain, and my son slid into the world.

He then proceeded to piss all over everyone and everything.

Benjamin had quite literally ripped me a new one: I had a third-degree-tear and it took the doctor quite awhile to finish stitching me up. The nurse brought Benjamin back to me, told me he was beautiful, and I held him and got a very good look at my son, my surprise, my miracle. He was perfect, and he looked so much like his two big sisters that I was overcome with nostalgia. He was so tiny, but yet the biggest of all my children. He had the chubbiest cheeks that just begged to be kissed.

For whatever reason, against every single odd that was stacked against me, I was given three amazing, beautiful, gloriously healthy miracles.

Life as a family of five was rough at first. Eventually we adjusted, and things went back to normal. My uterus on the other hand, had plans for making my life a living hell. Barely healed from giving birth, my periods started up again and would come every two or three weeks with horrific cramping. And every time, I’d phone my doctor and he’d either have me come in so he could take a look, or he’d write me a prescription for pain medicine. But that was just a band-aid for the problem, and it was a band-aid that didn’t really stick. I was so very tired of it. I’d been through so much physical pain and had my heart broken so many times on the way to motherhood. How good of a mother was I, really? How present could I be if I was in massive pain, or taking a pain medication that made me loopy? Brian had been taking care of me for ten years. Ten years of doctors appointments and huge medical bills and surgeries and watching me struggle.

It wasn’t a hard decision to make. Three children was exactly how many I wanted, and I was very blessed to have the three I was given. We were done having children. It did not in any way make me sad to think I would no longer be able to have children. So appointments were made, blood tests were drawn, deep discussions with my doctor were had. He laid everything out on the table, the good and the bad, the easy and the hard, and gave me every possible option to choose from. I went with the DaVinci partial hysterectomy. I’d still have my tubes and ovaries,  but I’d no longer have a uterus, so no periods, and no longer have my cervix, so I could finally stop worrying about a recurrence of the cervical cancer. Brian took two weeks off of work to care for me and to take care of the kids since I wouldn’t be able to pick them up for two weeks.

The morning of, both Autumn and Benjamin woke up with Brian, Amethyst and I. I cuddled and hugged and held my two babies, trying to get my fill (I didn’t succeed) before we left. My in-laws were going to watch the younger two and pick Amethyst up from school that afternoon if my surgery ran late and Brian wasn’t able to. I had let Amethyst’s Kindergarten teacher know what was going on, and she promised me that Amethyst was in good hands and they’d keep her mind off of it. I didn’t doubt it one bit. I hugged my littlest ones good bye, and we took Amethyst to school. I made sure to tell her how much I loved her and to remind her that if I wasn’t able to come home that evening, Daddy would bring her up to visit me that evening.

We drove to the hospital, the same hospital I had had surgeries #2 and #3, and well as gave birth to Autumn and Benjamin. If I could have ran from the car into the operating room, I probably would have. While we were waiting for the nurse to take me back to pre-op, I sent a text to my nearest and dearest, letting them know I was about to go back, and that I loved them all.

We sat in the waiting room, holding hands, and while we were sitting there, I thought about everything I had been through. It was almost over. I’d never again have a period. I’d never again be stuck in bed for two or three days because I was having a debilitating endometriosis flare up. And bonus: I’d never again have sex with either the fear or the hope of pregnancy in mind. Sex with my husband would just be sex.

I was taken back to pre-op, and I noticed that everyone seemed to be walking on eggshells around me. They were overly kind, and it hit me that it was because of what I was having surgery for. I was thirty-three years old, and not many women that age opt to have a hysterectomy, even just a partial.

My doctor came in, and I gave him a huge smile in greeting. He asked me if I was sure I was ready to go through with it since it would be permanent. “Let’s get this party started!” I told him, and I meant it. I’d been through so much pain, cried so many tears, been heartbroken time and time again. I’d spent years in fear: fear of infertility, of not having a baby, of losing a pregnancy, of wondering how bad each period was going to be in terms of pain.

I kissed Brian goodbye, and the anesthesiologist rolled me down the hall. He injected me with something lovely to relax me, and I thought of my three beautiful children, who I’d see later that day. I thought about how lucky I was Brian had always taken such good care of me without ever complaining once.

The next thing I knew, my OBGYN was leaning over me, and I said, “Oh good. You didn’t kill me this time!” He laughed and told me everything went great, and that it was finally over. He told me he’d come back later to check on me, and I closed my eyes and rested a bit. The nurse came over to me, and I asked her for some ice, which they didn’t have. She let me have some cold water as long as I took little sips.

I was rolled into my room, and Brian was there waiting. My new nurse smiled and told me that he understood I planned on leaving as soon as I could rather than staying the night. I said, “Yep.” He then told me I had to go to the bathroom, walk across the room, and hold down some food before he’d let me go. I did all three, and after waiting for the doctor’s official okay, I was allowed to change into my pajamas, and they rolled me down the hall.

It was very peaceful on the ride home. I wasn’t worried about the pain that would set in when the drugs they gave me at the hospital wore off. All I knew was that once I recovered, I would never again suffer from the debilitating pain that had been my constant companion for years. That I’d finally be able to run, and play, and be the type of mother I was meant to be for my kids. We arrived home, and there they were, Benjamin flapping around in his grandmother’s arms, Autumn yelling out, “Mama!” and Amethyst giving me a hug and showing me what she did in art class that day.

November 5, 2010 was the day I had my uterus removed. My only regret is the doctor wouldn’t let me take it to the firing range and practice shooting at it, kind of an active therapy. But they wanted to study my uterus, see what mysteries about Endometriosis it might reveal. I hope that it helps at least one person.

I’ve never looked back and thought, “I wish I wouldn’t have done the surgery.” Not when friends told me they were pregnant again, not when my brother and his wife announced they were having their fourth, and definitely not when my youngest nephew came into the world, and I was there, so proud to be a part of watching this little miracle take his very first breath. I’m thankful I was able to make the decision before it was made for me, and that I was financially able to choose the method I wanted.

I’m celebrating the anniversary of my hysterectomy because I can. Because for years, I had to go along with what my body was putting me through, and all I could do at times was grit my teeth and bear it. I took one of the most heartbreaking and painful experiences in my life, and I turned it into a positive.

And seriously, ladies, wouldn’t you celebrate no longer needing to use tampons and maxi pads?

 

Eighteen

Me at eighteen. Yes, I actually WAS wearing pink!

Me at eighteen. Yes, I actually WAS wearing pink!

At eighteen, I graduated high school. I registered to vote. I was rejected by the Army, due to a medical condition. I spent the year healing from my parent’s divorce. I had my first adult relationship that ended and broke my heart terribly. I chose to not go to college.

Sure, graduating high school and being able to vote were positives. Other than that? To quote my producer, “Meh!”

But now, eighteen years later, I’ve come to the realization that I’ve done something few people can claim they’ve done. Back when I was a kid (thirty years ago!!!) I’d be asked, “Amber, what do you want to be when you grow up?” And I had three stock answers: A mother, an author, and a teacher.” 

I achieved number one on that list at age twenty-seven, number two in January of 2012, and number three was accomplished when I was given a job as an adjunct professor with Collin County College (okay, no one signed up for my classes, which is fine. I still qualify it as an achievement since I teach authors one-on-one about social media and formatting).

So I had three things I wanted to accomplish with my life. And the wonderful part of those three accomplishments? All three of them give something without a price tag back to me daily. I have the good fortune of being the mother to three amazing souls who are kind, considerate, hilarious, generous, and loving. Writing is my own favorite brand of therapy, and when a reader tells me that I’ve touched them with my words, that brings me more joy than I can tell you. And teaching brings me a sense of calm: there’s nothing quite like explaining a new concept to someone and seeing that light flip on when they understand what you’re trying to convey.

So year eighteen of my life wasn’t too excellent. The past eighteen years? Well, they’ve had their own ups and downs, none of which I’d change. But on Sunday  night, a new eighteen entered my life, and this is an eighteen I’m thrilled about: I finished writing my eighteenth book!!!

InterpretationsCover.jpgInterpretations is a collection of poetry and short stories based on inspiration. The ten poems I’ve selected for the book are ten poems that have received the largest and loudest response from my readers, and have been the ones most often I am asked about. And while some pieces of my work I’ll happily explain, still there are others that are too personal for me to speak about. Taking the actual story or person that inspired the poem, taking what readers have suggested might be the inspiration, and taking the idea of what the poem could have been inspired by, I’ve paired them together. And I hope you like them. This has been some of the most emotional and honest work I’ve put out to date.

And we’re not talking about just a run-of-the-mill simple collection here. Rather than stick with title pages, I one-upped myself and created bookmarks for each new poem and short story pairing. It’s something brand new, something I haven’t seen before, and something I busted my ass on, trying to design and then format the book.

Interpretations will be available through Amazon.com and Smashwords.com on Thursday, October 31, 2013. I hope you’ll enjoy it, and I hope it touches you. You won’t find answers to what inspired each poem, because I like to be contrary and leave a bit to your imagination. But I hope you find escape in the time it takes you to read it.

Much Love,

 

~Amber Jerome~Norrgard

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