“Amber, I am going to try and make you the happiest, healthiest baby alive. I want to make sure I do everything right. I love you so much, I want you to have the best life has to offer. When you’re older, I don’t want you to hesitate to come to me with your problems – I will always be here for you and so will God. He is the one that made it possible for you to be here and he will always have the answers you seek. Amber, you are the most precious little girl alive. You will always be my little angel and I love you with all my heart.”(Excerpt of a letter by me from the baby book of Amber Dawn Huffman, written September 16, 1982)
The day was rainy, but there was nothing but happiness in my heart. “Tuesday’s child is full of grace” – this verse from the Mother Goose rhyme “Monday’s Child” was making me smile in spite of the rain. My first born child will be a girl full of grace - a child I knew in my heart was a daughter, although I had never had an ultrasound. The date was September 14, 1982 and Amber Dawn Huffman came into this world, screaming at the top of her lungs, at 1:31 in the afternoon – a Tuesday afternoon.
At 20 years old, my dream of being a mother had finally come true. After a short labor and extremely easy delivery, my first bundle of joy – all 5 pounds and 14 ounces – was placed in my arms and I knew I was the happiest woman on earth. Even though she was three weeks overdue, she was tinier than I had expected, especially after gaining 20 pounds. I guess most of the weight was due to the plain M&Ms I consumed on a weekly basis.
(Amber sitting on Granny Sallee's lap - age 5 months)
I was so scared the day we brought her home from the hospital. Her father worked nights, so I was going to be home all alone with a newborn. What if I couldn’t quiet her when she cried? What if I didn’t have enough breast milk to feed her? What if she got sick? What if, what if? I was so nervous I think I called my own mother three or four times before the night was over, and this was before speed dial and cell phones.
By the time Amber was one month old, she had doubled her birth weight – three cheers for mother’s milk. No longer a skinny newborn, my beautiful daughter now had little ham hocks for legs. And she was no longer bald because tiny wisps of blond hair were starting to peek through.
For her first Christmas, Amber was three months old and she was smiling and kicking her legs whenever she was awake. She was such a happy baby and she loved for family to carry her around - and carry her around they did. She turned into a typical first child who demanded to be carried whenever she was awake. She received a high chair from her maternal grandparents on Christmas Eve and within months she was able up and start on solid foods.
(Learning to walk - age 1)
Before I could blink my eyes, I was planning Amber’s first birthday party. Where did the time go? We had a house full of family and friends to help us celebrate the day. Amber was taking her first tentative solo steps and she enjoyed tip-toeing from one person to another. When she stuck her entire face into the birthday cake I baked for her, I caught myself crying and wishing she would never grew up.
(Dressed as Rainbow Brite - age 3)
For her second Halloween I dressed Amber up as Raggedy Ann. By her third birthday she was in love with all things Rainbow Brite and she had a younger sister, Carolyn Marie. When she was four years old she joined the Mission Friends group at church and sang in the preschool choir. The years were flying by at warp speed.
(My family at my nursing school graduation; from right to left: Amber, Marie, Mom, Dad, and Granny Sallee - May 12, 1990)
When it was time for Amber to start school, we both started at the same time – she in kindergarten and me in nursing school. Those three years of my nursing school career were the hardest times of my life. I was a single mother with two small children, but we all managed to survive healthy and whole, and we are stronger for it. Of course, I never would have made it through the tough times if it weren’t for my wonderful children – they were the reason for everything I did.
(3rd grade - 1990)
Elementary school flew by in a haze – PTO, teacher meetings, parent volunteer days and even though I was working the night shift, I always made time to attend all of Amber’s activities. Middle school brought her first dance and a whole new set of worries. Hormones and acne, boundaries and groundings, like most young teenagers she gave me a run for my money. But she was never in any serious trouble and always kept up with her school work.
Soon she was moving on to high school, with an unpleasant surprise. Chicken pox at the age of 15 was a hard pill to swallow and we both learned that home schooling was not something we enjoyed. High school graduation was a blur of smiles and tears – graduating with honors, I could not have been more proud of my oldest daughter. Intelligent, beautiful and self-assured, Amber was ready to make her mark on the world. No longer a child, this young adult was now full of hopes and dreams of her own.
(Age 17 - senior picture)
My baby is now 26 years old and beginning the next phase of her life. She has found the man of her dreams – Jason Wilham – and they will be married in just a few weeks on June 20th. I am so happy for the love my daughter has found and I am confident her future will be bright.
(Amber and Jason - Christmas 2007)
So as I stress and worry about the upcoming wedding, one thing is clear in my head – I’m not losing a daughter, I’m gaining a son. And although I’m not rushing things, I feel I’m one step closer to beginning the next chapter in my life with bundles of grandchildren.
Congratulations Amber Dawn Huffman and Jason Wilham!