Life as Amber knows it

"An adventure in the making…"

Happy Birthday Man~Cub!

It was probably the most ironic moment of my life.

In October of 2009, I was thirty-two, mother to two beautiful girls ages four and nine months old, and I was sitting on the exam table of the emergency room at the local hospital, trying not to throw up. I’d been very sick to my stomach the past three days, and with no end in sight to the round the clock vomiting, I’d gone to the hospital in the hopes of getting something to calm my stomach.

The doctor came in, and said something to me that had never been said to me before: “Do you know you’re pregnant?”

Before that moment? I’d always known if it was a possibility. For a woman who’d been hit with the double diagnosis of Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome and Endometriosis in her early twenties, pregnancy was not a guarantee. What was a guarantee was months of ovulation kits, failed pregnancy tests, surgeries, doctors visits, failed fertility treatments. Pregnancy was the hardest won battle of my life, and after having been gifted with two daughters who were healthy and happy, I counted myself beyond fortunate that I’d beaten the odds.

I was on the Cadillac of all birth control pills in an effort to control my Endometriosis and PCOS symptoms. Two months before that ironic day, I’d had laporospic surgery to treat my Endometriosis for the third time. I was still battling post partum depression from having had my daughter Autumn not even a year before.

“Do you know you’re pregnant?”  No. I didn’t know. And my mind flashed to the week before, when I’d said to my therapist, “If I were to have a third baby, I’d hope for a boy. Not because I wouldn’t love a girl as much, but because I’d like to know what its like to raise a son.”

God sometimes watches us and listens to our wishes and grants them, even if we’re not aware we’re wishing for what he gives us.

28977_455751821240_4241576_nBenjamin Alexander Roland Norrgard was born after twenty hours of labor. My epidural wore off when it was time to push, and out of my three children, he was the only birth that require multiple stitches to repair tearing. The doctor handed him to me immediately after he was born, and I looked down at a pure miracle: against the odds of a body that had betrayed me with a faulty reproductive system, against medications designed to treat not just illness but prevent pregnancy, against timing and financial worries, this little boy, this perfect angel, this incredible gift I wanted desperately but was afraid to wish for, my son was in the world. Eight pounds, ten ounces and twenty inches of blessings, albeit a gift that urinated so much, the nurse took him away to be weighed in and diapered.


he most certainly is….

Two under two with a five year old starting kindergarten wasn’t easy. I quickly fell back into post partum depression and anxiety, and every day was a battle. But when my demons got to be too much, I’d look into the face of my son and I’d remember. I’d remember all the failed pregnancy tests and fertility treatments. When I was trying to change two diapers at once and give attention and love to three children and find time to take a shower that lasted more than thirty seconds and help my oldest with homework and pack her lunch, I’d remember the baby I lost at six weeks pregnant in the summer of 2007. When I lost my uterus when Benjamin was only four months old, I’d hold him and thank God for the final gift of motherhood before I truly became infertile.

Benjamin came into this world, loud and in a manner that demanded my full attention. At five, he still grabs the attention of those around him. He’s got a wicked sense of humor (the first five 15664_10152215828301241_1722574116_nminutes of my father’s funeral were spent with me trying to not laugh at him making faces at me in an effort to cheer me up), and loves everyone he meets, most especially my friends: “Can we go to Canada Mommy? I miss my girlfriend Julie” was a recent conversation we had, along with “Hey, can we take Terri out to dinner again?” (Terri is a bit more accessible since she only lives about forty five minutes north of us, as opposed to Julie living in a whole other country).

Benjamin is thoughtful, sweet, and compassionate. He’s the first one to comfort one of his older sisters when they’re upset, and when he asks for a snack he always asks for a second for my middle child (and the second snack remains untouched until his sisters gets it). He’s loving. He’s passionate about everything from the Orioles (that’s ma boy!) to cookies to coloring to hugs and kisses.


Future Orioles player…

With the blue eyes he inherited from his father, and the curly red hair he inherited from me, Benjamin resembles an angel, and he’s not shy about wooing members of the fairer sex, from infants to his sisters, to elderly women at the bank to my female friends (I’m still laughing over his flirting when he met my friend Julie last October on a trip to the zoo). He’s got a gigantic, golden heart, and is known for being angry if he doesn’t get to hug and kiss goodbye those he loves.

I watch my son as he makes his way through this world: he’s confident, full of joy and passionate about anything and everything that catches his eye. I brace myself when he barrels towards me for a hug and wince while laughing when he bruises me from impacting me with his small but strong body. And my stomach clenches when I remember asking my doctor to perform a hysterectomy in the summer of 2009. Had my doctor performed the surgery then, this beautiful boy who brings joy to those he encounters wouldn’t be in this world. And that’s a thought that haunts me to this day, and a reaffirmation of my belief that all things happen for a greater purpose, even if we don’t get the answer as to why for some time after asking.

He’s been in this world for five years. And yet, my mind can’t wrap around and remember a time when he wasn’t in my life, making me laugh with his opinions on baseball and pancakes and chicken nuggets. I cherish his sweet self and am daily grateful that God saw fit to laugh at my plans to only have two children. That God looked down and decided my life needed an additional blessing of a third child, one that has made my life as a mother that much fuller and joyful.

He’s had about a hundred nicknames since he was born: “little dude”, “man~cub”, “thing two”, and “bubs” among many others. The multiple nicknames are just my cheap attempt in finding another, grander way of saying “I love you”, because those three little words, those eight little letters in no way are enough to convey what he means to me.

Happy Birthday Benjamin. Thank you for completing my heart and making me whole.


The Conclusion of the Be Better Project

My body’s had its ass kicked.

To date, I’ve survived cervical cancer, Graves disease, endometriosis, infertility, PCOS, and I’ve kicked post partum depression and anxiety in the ass three times, along with a similar version of depression and anxiety that came after my hysterectomy in 2010.


January 2012

But there was a price to be paid for beating all that: the medication that saved my life (I don’t lie, and I’m not going to start now — I was suicidal during my battle with post partum depression) combined with a hysterectomy in my early thirties caused me to gain 100 pounds. I weighed 150 pounds (a healthy weight for my body type) on the morning I had my hysterectomy. One year later, I weighed 250 pounds.

Did I always make the best dietary choices? No, not always, but mostly. But six months after my hysterectomy, my anti depressant stopped working, and my doctor added wellbutrin into the mix of xanax xr and zoloft I was already taking.


January 2012

My weight kept climbing, and my depression just deepened. It had taken me close to a year to lose the weight after I had my oldest child. After my middle child was born, it took me six months (I was smarter in my food choices with my second daughter). After my son was born in June of 2010, I lost the baby weight within three weeks. But the exhaustion of my body recovering from such a major surgery in the fall of 2010, right on the heels of giving birth for the second time in eighteen months, combined with all those medications? I didn’t stand a chance.

I hated the way I looked. I hated the way I felt. Watching what I ate alone didn’t help, exercising did little except make me more exhausted. From Halloween 2011 until New Years Day in 2012, I struggled, and damn near gave up when despite eating nothing but a healthy diet and walking two miles a day (god bless the treadmill) yielded a two pound weight loss. I made an appointment with my doctor.

“Your body has been through a lot. Its not unusual for women to have their metabolism bottom out after they have a hysterectomy due to the huge fluctuation of hormones. You’re also on several medications that aren’t going to help your  metabolism either.”

I went home, tossed my anti depressants (they weren’t doing any good at that point, and I’d gotten the okay from my doctor to discontinue their use), and gave up the only vice I’d held onto after switching to a healthier diet: my daily trip to Starbucks.

It’s been three years. And in those three years, I’ve learned more about myself and the world at large than I ever thought possible.

When I started the Be Better Project in January of 2012, I had a goal of getting my body bikini ready.

I was very wrong to set that as my goal. What I needed to be doing is getting my soul life ready.

The world isn’t kind to those who don’t fit into some skewed ideal of beauty. If you’re not a size two, with blonde hair, tanned, and fit under the heading of “perfect”, very few people are interested. It’s a bullshit ideal. And it’s a painful ideal to be a victim of.


April 2015

Me? I let other people’s ideals, right or wrong, impact the way I saw myself. I let myself get mind fucked into believing I wasn’t beautiful because I didn’t fit a bullshit idea. It wasn’t until I accepted that I’d never been a size two, that I’d never be perfect, that my abdomen would never be scar free (five plus abdominal surgeries in my quest for motherhood and health), that I truly began changing for the better.

I started this with the want to look physically beautiful, to fit those fucked up ideas.

I ended it embracing myself as I am, and seeing those scars as trophies from hard won battles against life, health, and my sanity.

Three years, three months and one hundred and five pounds after starting the Be Better Project, I am a different woman. Is my body perfect? Nope. Will I ever grace the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition? Nope. Do I still have abdominal scars and stretch marks and a poochy belly? Yep. Do I give a shit? Fuck NO. My body isn’t perfect. But it is MINE. With my body, I have given birth to three beautiful souls. I’ve beaten illnesses. I’ve fought for my sanity and WON.


April 2015

I’ve posted these photos in this blog for a couple of reasons: the first is in the hopes that someone with a similar story to mine will read it and feel less alone in their own struggles with their body image. The second is because I always keep my word, and three years ago, I promised the listeners of TweepNation that I’d post photos in “the bikini” at the end of the Be Better Project. And the third? Honesty. And lack of fear of people’s opinions on my body. Anyone who will judge my imperfections in a hateful manner is not a person who is actually going to see me as ME.

And ME is pretty damn awesome. Me is a woman who after years of hating herself has finally opened up  my arms wide to hug myself and say “I love you. You’re beautiful.”

Back in January, I was scheduled for a tummy tuck to remove those abdominal scars and have my separated abdominal muscles reattached. A slight infection caused the surgery to be cancelled and rescheduled at a later date. A few days before the scheduled surgery, I’d emailed a friend a list of daily gratitudes, one of which was the following: “I’ve learned to love my body as is and I will miss its flaws…” I won’t be having the surgery until its necessary. And I don’t want it to be necessary.

“Better” started out as me losing weight. But I ended this in a truly “Better” way: I love ME. Who I am as a person is defined in those scars on my abdomen: flawed, but for good reason.

Love yourself as is folks. Embrace your flaws for what they are: markers on a life well lived.

I’d stay and chat, but my bikini is too loose… I’m off to buy a new one.

~Amber Jerome~Norrgard

Passing the Placenta

I recently heard through a friend a reaction to one of my more wilder hair color experiments that a young woman we both know stated she’d considered doing a wild shade of hair, but being a mom was a reason not to.

I felt a multitude of emotions upon hearing this, everything from annoyance (at being judged) to pity to anger to sadness. I even felt humor. Annoyance because I was judged by someone (again) based on my looks, pity that this twenty-something child was so closed minded, anger and sadness that they fell back on that ideal as a reason to not do something for themselves, and humor because I’d let a twenty year old kid I actually dislike intensely get to me.

The fact is, and those of you who know me can attest to this, I don’t give a shit what your opinion is on how I look. I’ve often been judged on my appearance: I’ve surprised people by my level of intelligence: “What? You actually have a brain?” and “Just stand there and look pretty.” are two comments I’ve received far too frequently in my thirty-eight years on this earth. I’ve heard comments that can be summed up by two words: “Fat bitch” and “Skinny bitch” have been two frequent comments, along with “Bet she stuffs” and very hilariously, someone asking me who my plastic surgeon was, because they sooooo wanted him to give her my boobs (said boobs were actually grown naturally and are credited to my biological parents’ DNA, thank you for that Ellen and Charlie).

Mainly, I felt offended.

Motherhood doesn’t erase who we are.

Sadly, I’ve seen this happen far too often: snakeskin pants are packed up, piercings removed, tattoo cover kits are purchased. Lace underwear sets are tossed in the trash for boring cotton numbers. Hair is chopped off into a standard bob, and mini-vans become the choice vehicle to have.

Back in 2005, I was shopping with a family member. When I picked up a lace thong and bra set, she freaked out and reminded me I was a mother. I reminded her that life post-placenta did not erase the fact I was still a woman.

I thrive on my life as a mother: for me, raising my three children is the reason I was put on this earth. I love spending time with my three children, whether its one-on-one with them or as a group. I love hearing their thoughts on everything from art to life to pancakes. I’d rather not hear them whine, but even that has the benefit of knowing they’re growing exactly as they should be. I don’t even mind doing their laundry. They are the very breath that I breathe, and their faces are my heart and soul. My life would not be worth living if they were not in this world.

I’ll admit my naval ring was removed during my pregnancy with Amethyst. When faced with the realization that if I grew any more the ring would rip out due to my expanding belly, I took the smart (and pain free option) of removing it. And those snakeskin pants I placed on the high shelf in my closet went there because I was no longer a size two.

But Amethyst taking her first breath in our world didn’t erase who I am at my core: a woman who is creative and slightly crazy and full of life and passion. My need to be out there in the world and create with my mind and decorate my body with piercings and art work never changed. In many ways, motherhood reaffirmed the necessity to remain true to myself: how better else is there to teach my children honesty than by being who I truly am?

In many ways, the world we live in is based on a set of ideals that only works for a small bit of the people inhabiting it: we’re told from a young age that we need to be “normal” except we’re not given a say in the matter. And women sadly add to this load of shit by giving into the idea that motherhood means you need to put yourself on the back burner and subscribe to khaki pants and bobbed hair cuts and drive mini vans and wear pearl stud earrings. If you like the khakis and pearls, by all means wear them. But don’t hide your past away from your present and future self. Don’t give up those things that so define you because you’ve passed a placenta. Lying to yourself is the worst type of lie there is, because you’re killing your spirit and letting yourself go.

And using motherhood as an excuse to hide behind as to why you’re not dying your hair a bright color or getting a tattoo or a piercing or returning to finish your education or finding a half hour every week as a space of time for yourself is a fat load of bullshit. The reality is, you’re using it as an excuse to hide behind your own cowardice at not being accepted.

Whether or not the person who made the comment that they weren’t dying their hair because they’re a mother was taking a dig at the fact that I’m a mother to three children and should know better (bite me please), or whether they were just trying to excuse away their lack of freedom, it doesn’t matter. If its the first one? Well, feel free to pass this along: Fuck you. I know myself. My children are healthy, happy, compassionate, and are going to bring some wonderful to the world we live in. If its the second: please pull your head out of your ass and do what you need to do for you and stop giving up yourself for some set ideals you’ve never questioned.

I’ve passed three placentas in my life. And I might not always do the right thing. In fact, I might fuck it up royally. But at the end of the day, I can look in the mirror and honestly state I’ve been true to myself. And that my hair is fuckin’ awesome.

Amber Jerome~Norrgard

And Now a Poetic Interview with Amber Jerome~Norrgard!

What? Things didn’t go according to the plan? Big shock for me!!!

So despite the disappointment of not having surgery today due to a slight infection and having my muscle separation fixed being placed on indefinite hold due to work and other obligations, I’m still in a good mood due to the necessary changes I made to my lifestyle pre-surgery that I’m going to hold onto. Three years ago I weighed 225 pounds after having a partial hysterectomy and having to take multiple medications to deal with the post partum-like depression and anxiety that came in due to the hormonal changes.

For those of you who are curious, I gained between 40-50 pounds with each of my children, topping out at 190 pounds on delivery day. With my oldest, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight within a year. With my middle child, six months. With my son? Three weeks (you try having a five year old, an 18 month old, a sick father, and a newborn to contend with all at the same time and tell me how well you’ll hold onto your weight). Four months after my son was born I went under the knife for what was hopefully the final time to have a partial hysterectomy. And everything changed for me.

Certainly, I could have done a few things differently: I ate fast food once a week (if not more) and Starbucks saw me at least once a day. The medications I was on to treat the anxiety and depression I was suffering from added to the weight I was accumulating once my hormones went haywire and my metabolism disappeared.

In January of 2012, after taking a family photo, I cried when I saw myself. Despite being only 5’3″, I’d always been healthy at around 140 pounds. But there I was, almost one hundred pounds heavier than I should have been, and I looked awful.

I gave myself one last weekend of bad dietary indulgences and started removing the unhealthy stuff in stages. The medication I was on was no longer working as it was supposed to: I was still depressed, and I was gaining weight and losing hair on top of everything else. After consulting with my doctor, I stopped taking all three medicines and within two weeks began dropping weight. My next step was to break up with Starbucks and start exercising four times a week. Soda went next, followed by meat, followed very closely by cheese.

For the past three years, I struggled with my weight. But instead of crash dieting and losing weight quickly, I resolved to take the time and do things the RIGHT way, no matter how long it took.

I won’t lie: I’d backslide on my efforts to get healthy. I’d feel too tired to take a walk, and I wouldn’t walk. Or I’d give into wanting Starbucks. I’d get a cheeseburger, which was doubly bad considering I had RA and Fibromyalgia and both were affected adversely by meat.

The biggest struggle I faced though wasn’t what food I was trying to not eat. It was a struggle with mySELF that was the problem. I got lost in the idea that there’s one type of beauty. I focused too strongly on hitting a size two and identified that (very) incorrectly with the only type of real beauty. It wasn’t until a dear friend of mine looked at me one day when I was complaining about my body and said, “Amber, you’re NOT fat. Do you have a few extra pounds? Yes. But I’d never use the word “fat” to describe you. What you are is curvy and voluptuous, and very beautiful. You need to learn to see yourself in a new way.”

It was time to wake up.

Until I learned to truly love myself, no matter the number on the scale or on the clothing tag, I would never really reach what I was looking for. Until I accepted my body as is, with it’s scars from my pursuit of health and motherhood, how much weight I lost would not matter.  I could be a size 2, but no matter what size I was, I still wouldn’t be happy until I learned to love my body, no matter what shape it was. Until I learned to embrace the body God had gifted me with. The body that while it HAD caused me hurt and heartbreak with its medical issues, also gave me three children and the ability to feed them.

So I began trying to see myself through the right kind of eyes. Did I always see myself with love and compassion and kindness? No. But I learned to love myself.

Back in November when I was told that a tummy tuck was the solution to the problems I was having due to abdominal muscle separation, I did something I never thought I’d do: I cried over the thought of saying goodbye to part of my abdomen, of not seeing those scars again. And that’s not always been my mindset since I scheduled the surgery. I’ve had good days and bad days.

I began eating healthier per my surgeon’s orders to prepare for the surgery. I even went as far as to complete (and totally kick ass on) a 21 day no-junk-food-purge.

I had two goals three years ago when I began working towards a better me: To get to 156 pounds, the weight I was when I found out I was pregnant with my son, and to fit into my favorite ass-hugging jeans. I hit goal two in July 0f 2012, and surpassed it: those ass-hugging jeans were too loose. Goal one? That took a bit longer.

I stepped on the scale this morning, yelped, stepped off and then stepped back on. And damn near fainted. I waited to celebrate until I got to my surgeon’s office, knowing they’d get my exact weight pre-surgery. And the number was actually one lower than what I’d seen this morning at home: 153.6

I’d met my goal. And more than that: I love my body, as-is, despite it’s imperfections.

I’ll have bad days between now and when I fully recover from my abdominalplasty that will most likely take place in May I’m sure. And that doesn’t matter, because I’m only human. Bad days are supposed to happen. But I’ve passed my goal. I’ve done what I set out to do again, like I always do when I want something. And I’m proud of myself, because three years ago, my goal seemed impossible to achieve.

But I still kicked ass….


Amber Jerome~Norrgard

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

It’s that *dreaded* time of year again: my birthday has rolled around, and true to form, the few weeks leading up to it have been tumultuous with bad news bombs dropping one right after the other.

But the good news is, I’ll be having a much needed abdominoplasty done on January 27th to correct the muscle separation three children and multiple abdominal surgeries have caused. I’m in fairly good health. My children are happy and healthy. Work has been coming in nicely. There’s the promise of trips to San Antonio and up to the Great White North to see my dear friend Julie Frayn (not to mention IVD 2015 in September). And thanks to the awesome Dr. Rowan Buskin, I have a new smile to go along with the  new year we’ve just entered.

2014 was one of the hardest years of my life, right up there with 2007. And the end of 2014 brought with it a great deal of changes to who I am and how I am. Life’s too short to waste on things that don’t work. I’d rather spend my time and energy with the people who truly matter, truly love me, experiencing life and creating memories. And while I created a great deal of memories and had a ton of new experiences in 2014 that I’m infinitely grateful for, there will always be a cloud over 2014 for me, because it was the year we lost my father, a loss I’m still reeling from six months later.

But life goes on, no matter how excellent or how shitty our lives are. The sun’s going to rise and set each day whether or not we’re happy, in love, wealthy, and living the live we want. And with that comes lessons: no matter how bad (or good)it can get, there is always something to be learned from our experiences. So as I always do on my birthday, here’s a list of what I’ve learned in my short life.

1.) The people that truly  matter and truly love you are the ones who are still there when the shit hits the fan and starts splattering.

2.) If you wouldn’t allow a type of behavior from a stranger, why allow it from a friend?

3.) Sometimes, a girl just has to down a bottle of wine and smoke a cigar.

4.) It’s okay to engage in girly behavior.

5.) I still think people who dress their pets up in any type of clothing deserve to be shot on sight.

6.) Don’t insult anyone outside a gun range. This is beyond idiotic.

7.) Just because you don’t understand it, or it’s something that wouldn’t work for you doesn’t automatically make it wrong.

8.) Sometimes “I love you” is the only thing you need.

9.) Karma always pays assholes back.

10.) Don’t ever go back to an ex. You already know how the story’s gonna end.

11.) Baseball can teach us many things. But most importantly in terms of people in my life, after three strikes, you’re out.

12.) I’m pretty sure my best friend and I broke the Epic Meter in 2014 in awesome life experiences.

13.) You either absolutely love and adore me, or you hate my guts. If you’re one of the latter, it’s for some idiotic reason and not based on anything real.

14.) Slightly related: I’m either your greatest friend or I’m your worst enemy.

15.) I never start fights. But I damn sure finish them.

16.) ALWAYS trust your instincts.

17.) Conditional love is a load of bullshit.

18.) God bless Twitter. It brought the greatest friend of my life into my world.

19.) I must be doing something right as a parent: my childless friends all adore my children.

20.) Homeschooling my children has been the best decision, not just for my oldest, but for all three of them I’ve ever made. I’ve had true quality time teaching them, and this is something I can never express my full gratitude for.

21.) The world would be a much better place if it was necessary to apply for a license to reproduce.

22.) Some people would benefit from a punch in the face.

23.) Forgiveness is the key to your unhappiness.

24.) Sometimes, no matter how badly it hurts, you have to let go.

25.) No matter how tall he is or how old he gets, or even how many children he has, I still think of my brother as my baby brother.

26.) Until you know who you are and until you’re completely honest, you’re not going to find what you’re looking for in life.

27.) Faith is harder than you realize.

28.) Life will bring you the unexpected when you stop looking for it.

29.) No one you meet in a bar is their honest self.

30.) If you ask for someone’s honest opinion, remember, you asked for it.

31.) Who you’ve been and where you come from is nowhere near as important as who you’ll be and where you’ll go.

32.) I have no sympathy for people who complain about the trouble in their lives they caused themselves.

33.) Always keep a prepaid cell phone with important numbers logged in it, fully charged in your car in case of emergencies.

34.) I’ve been blessed in my life at having several friends I consider family.

35.) And if you hurt anyone one in #34, I’ll hunt you down.

36.) My favorite place to be is sitting with a dear friend, something yummy to drink, and having a conversation that goes until three a.m.

37.) Motherhood is the greatest miracle I’ve ever been blessed with.

38.) I still don’t know what I want to be when I grown up….



Amber Jerome~Norrgard

Out of Order

out of orderI’m exhausted.

To say 2014 has been a tumultuous year would be an understatement. And it’s been a roller coaster of a ride through life. There’s been good, bad, ugly and beautiful. There have been heartbreaks, losses, experiences that blew my mind, and memories built.

The clock rolled over into 2014, and unlike the previous year where the dear friend I spent it with and I breathed a sigh of relief that the year was finally over, we looked at one another, wished the other a happy new year, and toasted to the hope things would be better.

But for me, 2014 was a year of trade-offs. For every good thing, there would be something else to counter balance any sense of relief or joy. The largest hurt of the year was and always will remain the death of my father.

We often start talking about new years resolutions in December. What we’ll do differently in order to make our lives better. For some people, it’s simply their promise to themselves to eat healthier and lose weight. Others, it’s quitting smoking. Or getting a better job. Or finding that special someone, having a baby, buying a house. Just something new or better for ourselves to achieve during the next year.

I sometimes make my goal. This last year? Didn’t make any of them.

This years resolution is to stop putting the rest of the world first and start putting me first. If I have made one mistake continuously, and without fail, in my life it’s that I often put the rest of the world ahead of me even when I am at my breaking point.

It occurred to me last night, after a day filled with people asking me for things, people tagging me on Facebook for things, and people blast emailing me asking me for things that not one of those people who had asked for my help has ever, without an exchange of goods, money or services, actually ever helped me. Not one of those people has given me the benefit of the simple question: “Hey how are you doing?” And if they asked, the answer would be, “I’m doing horrible. My heart hurts from losing my father. I’m struggling to balance homeschooling three children, running two businesses and a non-profit, promoting my creative work, working on my own education. I’m depressed to the point that I attempted taking an anti-depressant again, except it didn’t work and landed me in the hospital. I’ve had medical struggles out the ass this last year and am scheduled for two surgeries in January.”

I’m still breathing. But I’m barely surviving. I’m pulled in several different directions, and so rarely does it seem that anyone bothers to see how I’m doing. And I don’t care how five years old this makes me sound: My father died this year. My brother and I had to make the decision to put him in compassionate care which killed us both. I miss my father terribly, and the pain isn’t easing up. I need someone, ANYONE to step back, think and say, “Hey Amber, what can I do?” Because the answer is going to be simple: just spend time with me without it being a trade for something I can do for you.

So until further notice, I’m Out of Order. I like being able to help people if and when I can. But right now? I can’t get my feet back underneath me, and I need to prioritize my life. My kids and everything related comes first. My job(s) come second because I need the income. My education comes third. Those are three full time jobs. When you’re working three full time jobs yourself, and can balance adding in helping everyone else, then feel free to ask me to lend a hand.

I’ve put me on the back burner for far too long. And me is struggling. Me is drowning. Me is actually scared of how things are going and how depressed I feel right now. So I’m shoving Me to the front of the line, right behind my children, until I can start breathing again. I’ve given to the point I’ve been drained dry, and all it’s done is left me in tears and exhausted and feeling isolated and alone.

And if you have a problem with this post? You’re clearly not a person who genuinely gives a shit or is a true friend, because if you genuinely gave a shit and was a true friend, you’d be reading this going, “Finally. It’s about time she did this for herself!” and asking me how you can help, and you’re also sitting there smug in the knowledge you’ve been there for me and haven’t been a selfish asshole. And if you have a problem with this post? Do me a favor: remove me from your friends’ list on Facebook, stop following me on Twitter, delete my phone number, lose my email address, and please go fuck yourself.


Amber Jerome~Norrgard

In Celebration of National Best Friends Day!

Did you know that National Best Friends Day is this weekend?

I’m sorry, what did you just say? It’s actually not until June??!!? Well shit, that means my plans for the weekend are over! Cancel every thing my best friend and I have lined up, because now we have to wait until June! I can’t believe this happened to me!!! I mean, one of us saw this meme that said it was this weekend, and we made plans dammit!

Okay that last paragraph is total bullshit. I know National Best Friends Day actually doesn’t happen until June 8. And I’m still hangin’ with my bestie this weekend, and we’re still celebrating our friendship for the same reason I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day and never will.

If you need a national holiday to celebrate those you love in your life, you’re an asshole (but by all means, please still celebrate the damn good national holidays like National Guacamole Day, National Pancake Day, Free Comic Book Day, and Eat Breakfast for Dinner Day).

I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. The idea that you only go all out on that day just chaps my ass. Why wait? I’m not saying go balls to the wall day in and day out, but why not, just for the sake of doing it, pick some random day and celebrate the hell out of someone you love, including yourself? Why do we wait until something larger happens (a national holiday, an illness, a death) to start telling those we love how we feel? Why not do it just for the hell of it? Why do we only celebrate ourselves on the day we were born?

It’s coming up on five months since I lost my father. And if his life and death taught me anything, it’s that life is far too short to worry about the small things and not enjoy the time we have on this earth, not embrace and celebrate the time we have with those who make our lives beautiful and give us the chance to be who we truly are, good or bad.

So I’m celebrating my best friend this weekend, not because we thought it was a national holiday, but because I don’t say often enough how much they mean to me.

To my best friend: Thank you for being in my life. Thank you for actually unconditionally loving me. Thank you for being the voice of reason when my mind goes on a nineteen hour road trip. Thank you for trusting me with your feelings, both good and bad. Thank you for all the laughs, the bottles of wines killed, the long-ass talks. Thank you for being a shelter in the storm of hurt my life has been. Thank you for teaching me how to love myself and teaching me to see myself through kinder eyes. Thank you for finding my love of ranch dressing adorable. Thank you for not being an asshole in a world filled with them. Thank you for trusting me with your thoughts. Thank you for ending every fight with a hug and an “I love you.”

Just thank you for every single wonderful, beautiful, crazy, colorful, loud, quiet, and miraculous moment you’ve brought to my life. I love you.


Amber Jerome~Norrgard

The Path to Autumn

I stopped believing in God on Friday, January 21, 1994.

I was two days shy of my seventeenth birthday.

I’d woken up that day, excited because my friends were throwing a party for me that night to celebrate (being high schoolers, everyone had to work that weekend). I’d just finished up breakfast when my mother stormed into the kitchen, upper lip curled up like a snarling dog and barked at me the words that would shatter what faith I had at that young age: “Your fucking father told me he was filing for divorce last night. I hope your happy. This is your fault!”

Initially, I was more shocked her words weren’t followed with a slap or her going for a wooden spoon. You see, we had a deep dark secret in our family: the woman who adopted me was emotionally and physically abusive. In front of others, she’d keep up the face of the perfect mother, though on occasion her temper would get the best of her in front of friends and family (there’s a story in our family of my Uncle Richard once stepping in to stop her from hitting me when she went too far), and shortly there after, who ever had witnessed her behavior would mysteriously be gone from our lives.

I knew the divorce was coming. In October of 1993, the night of the homecoming game my junior year of high school, my mother had a friend stop by the house. She told me to go try on my dress to show her friend. My date for the game was due any moment, and I was already wearing my mum, a heavy number that required four large safety pins to secure to my shirt. When I told my mother no, her response was to grab me by my face and slam my head against the wall and tell me to not talk back to her in front of her friend. At the time, I had braces, and she lacerated my mouth so badly in one spot from the brackets I still have a flap of gum that never healed properly. Knee jerk reaction to the pain and the blood filling my mouth, I had slapped her. She’d pulled back her hand to hit me across the face and I ran down the hall to my parents room. My father, who had been crippled for some time stood in between us and told her to leave me alone.

I never saw my mother’s friend who’d witnessed the event again.

Four days later, when my mother was out, my father came home from work early, something that never happened. He sat me down in the living room, and told me that he could no longer watch what our mother was doing to us, and after the holidays, he would be filing for divorce. He asked me to be as strong as he knew I was, most especially for my younger brother.

I left the house that morning, sick to my stomach. Rather than go to school, I called my father’s office and told him what mom had said to me. He told me to take the day off of school, and that he and my mother had agreed they’d wait to tell us kids together. But mom being mom had to have the last word.

That last word shattered my faith in God. What type of God would allow me to be conceived by a fifteen year old girl who couldn’t raise me and be adopted into a family where the mother was insane and would spend her life as a parent warping two innocent children into believing they were unworthy of safety, of home, of unconditional love? What type of person could do that to the child she had vowed in front of a judge to love and protect?

Through the rest of my teenage years and through my twenties, I held onto the belief that God didn’t exist. Because there was so much hurt in my world: my childhood, an abusive first marriage, health problems. Even the birth of my first daughter after a diagnosis of infertility didn’t shake my belief I was alone.

I refound faith two months shy of my 32nd birthday with the birth of my daughter, Autumn.

Autumn was over two years of fighting my body to have a second child. Autumn came after three rounds of clomid that did nothing except hyperstimulate my ovaries and cause me to spend two months in bed recovering. Autumn came after a much wanted pregnancy that I lost after twenty months of trying and having my heart broken month after month, of my brother and his wife finding out they were having their second baby two weeks after I lost mine. Autumn came after an exceedingly painful surgery that added to the abdominal muscle separation I’ll be having surgically fixed right after my thirty-eighth birthday in 2015.

What would have been my due date with the baby I lost in August of 2007 was the day I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter.

I spent my pregnancy with my second born terrified. Nightly, I’d lay on my side, my hand on my stomach and whisper, “Please, please, be born. Please, stay with us. Please let me be your mother.” The idea of a second miscarriage, especially so close to one that had thrown me into a deep depression was my worst nightmare.

As my pregnancy progressed, things went perfectly. Or at least they did with my body. My emotions? Those were a wreck, and there were many emergency trips to my OBGYN’s office, my heart pounding in my throat over the smallest twinge. I was blessed to have a doctor who was more interested in keeping me calm than being annoyed at my constant worrying.

I was scheduled to be induced on November 25, 2008. On November 24, I laid down in bed at 11:30, smug in the knowledge I’d get one last good night’s sleep before I gave birth. One hour later, at 12:30 a.m., my labor began with contractions lasting thirty seconds and coming every three minutes. I spent the time walking our apartment, concentrating on my breathing, and begging the baby on the way to please have a safe delivery.

We took our oldest daughter Amethyst to my brother and sister in law’s house at six that morning. My sister in law Catie would be joining us at the hospital later that day when my brother got home from work, and he would be watching their two boys and Amethyst if I was still in labor.

My nurse at the hospital, Paige told me when I arrived that it was a lucky day to be born: it was her son’s eleventh birthday.

Everything was going as it should until four p.m. when we began losing Autumn’s heart beat. “Take her out of me, now. Do a cesarean. Just please, please, please, make sure my baby girl is okay.” My blood pressure started climbing due to my anxiety, and at that point, I did not care what delivering the baby might do to me, even if I died, if I heard her cry and saw her before I went, I’d of died happy knowing I had brought her into the world. I’d already signed consent forms and was about to be rolled into the operating room when a change in my position brought Autumn’s heart rate back to normal and caused my labor to progress much more quickly.

At 8:06 p.m., Autumn Morgaine Norrgard came into the world, took a huge breath and screamed her head off. The doctor placed her on my stomach, and Jasmine, the nurse who had taken over when Paige’s shift had ended brought a blanket to wrap my baby girl in before placing her in my arms, still screaming about the gravity in the room and the change in her environment. Her head turned towards mine, and I saw her eyes, and immediately found my faith.

After every hurt in my life, after all the losses and the abuse and the hellish road to motherhood for a second time, I looked into a face that was perfect and understood truly for the first time that all things happen for a reason. I’d of given my life for the one in my arms without thinking of it, something my mother never would have done. And I would never, ever forget how easily that which we love and fight for can be taken away from us.

My life as a survivor of childhood abuse has brought me the knowledge of what not to do as a parent. It has taught me patience, it has taught me to love unconditionally, to see the gift, the miracle that not only Autumn, but Benjamin and Amethyst truly are. As parents we are blessed with the great honor of shaping individuals into who they will become as adults. And I protect that honor and am grateful for it every day. Even when my kids make messes. Even when they whine. Even when they tantrum and fight with one another.

I used to ask my father if he loved my brother or me more than the other. And his response was that he loved us the same, just differently. I never understood that until Autumn was born. Of course you love your children differently: they are different from one another, so the love is different. The amount of love though, that’s not. It’s infinite. There’s no end to it. It’s mind blowing how much it fills you and sweeps you away and changes you so much you’re no longer who you once were, and it’s change you are so damn grateful for it moves you to tears.

Out of my three children, Autumn is the one who is most like me, both in looks and temperment. “My God, she even has your legs!” a friend of mine had said when he met her. And it’s true: She has my legs. She had my eyes, and my smile, and my freckles. She has my balls to the wall, do or die, go after what you want and fight for it tooth and nail and do everything with a passion that can’t be matched. She loves deeply and kindly. She’s generous. She’s compassionate. She looks at the world and finds beauty in small things: the way strawberries grow from teeny tiny seeds into something wonderful to eat, how the colors of the trees change in the fall, how the progress of an inch worm is slow but still deserves cheering on.

Autumn brought me back to faith. Maybe not the faith my father raised me to believe in, but faith on my terms. That there is a higher power up there, watching over us and wanting us to find our own path. That there are gifts waiting for us. That it’s not in our hands, but in the hands of something greater than ourselves.

I look at my second daughter and I realize that she is who I would have been had I had a mother who had actually loved me. And I know I was meant to be her mother because I would kill to protect her natural growth into who’s she’s meant to be. She’ll never doubt her mother loves her. She’ll have support no matter what she has a passion for (which is currently baby dolls and the color pink). She’ll have acceptance at what’s different between us. And she’ll have birthdays where I celebrate the fuck out of the simple fact that she’s here, she’s Autumn, and she’s breathing.

Happy Birthday Mini~Me. Thank you for bringing me back to faith.



(otherwise known as Amber Jerome~Norrgard)

Re-Post: Why I’m celebrating the anniversary of my hysterectomy

It’s been four years since I made the hard decision to remove my uterus at age 33. November 5 will always be a day I celebrate because I took control of what was hurting me and removed it from my life.

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?


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