Thursday, May 29, 2014

Caroline's Birth Story

I have been meaning to write Caroline's birth story for several weeks now, but every time I try to put the experience into words, I fail. So this time, I am  going to use someone else's words. So, with apologies to Kelle Hampton, here is goes...

Birth Stories. It is a common thread that runs through the tapestry of motherhood--all kinds of mamas, hundreds of thousands of unique and beautiful children, miles of earth that separate us, cultures and beliefs and families that identify us--but each of our children has a story of how they were welcomed.

This is Caroline Hope Eckert's.

The day after Easter, at 6pm, Matt and I arrived at the hospital for my scheduled induction.  I really wanted to NOT be induced, I wanted Caroline to come when SHE was ready, but the third trimester brought with it a gestational diabetes diagnosis, followed by 4-6 doctors appointments per week, a few high risk hospital admissions, and a decision to bring our baby into the world a little earlier than expected.  

Along with wanting to go into labor on our own time line, I also really, really wanted to have a natural birth. And by that I mean a vaginal birth with lots of drugs in a sterile and impersonal hospital setting with a slew of medical personnel on hand.   As it turned out, this too was a pipe dream. I could go into a LOT of detail about Terbutaline, Pitocin, Cervidil, Foley bulbs, and other means of inducing labor, but to make a long story short, NONE OF THEM WORKED.  We tried everything but smoking her out. The baby friend was clearly stubborn.  No idea where she gets that from.  And FYI, it's a good thing there weren't many others on the floor that night, because I let my rage be known...loudly.

I don’t believe in suffering silently.
And here's another fun tidbit.  THE EPIDURAL DIDN'T WORK EITHER.  I am serious. The spinal block that I requested literally the minute I checked into the hospital blocked NOTHING.  After 19 hours of excruciatingly painful labor ( There isn’t a damn thing on the planet that I want to do for 19 hours, especially not something that requires pushing a melon out of a hole the size of a cherry.), Caroline's heart rate began to slow down and it was decided that a Cesarean section was necessary, ASAP.  With basically nothing more than a local anesthetic, because I was lucky enough to be one of the one in a thousand people who cannot "metabolize" glucocorticoids.  

My anesthesiologist cheerfully told me that even though I was "missing out" on experiencing the vaginal birth process, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to be tough by having abdominal surgery with meds that didnt work. Hey, Silver Linings!   

Also, he breezily mentioned, I might have a tender stomach after the operation.  As it turned out, he underestimated that a bit as well.  A tender stomach is what you feel after you eat one too many burritos.... horrendous pain is what you feel after a knife slices through your midsection to pry a child from your loins.    Not cool, dude. not cool at all.  

 Small rant: I don't really understand why people get so upset by C-sections.  I don't think that the bond of mother and child is solely dependent on which body part the baby exited from.  A few minutes after the surgery commenced, they placed my beautiful daughter on my chest, and I couldn't have been more filled with love and absolute awe. I was in love the instant I heard her cry. Nature does what nature needs to do, and if a Cesarean surgery was what ended up happening in your case, then be thankful for the miracle of a happy and healthy baby. 

Her first breath took ours away.....

The rest of the day/week is sort of a Vicodin-fueled blur, but I can tell you that from then on, things went a little more as planned.  We did some skin to skin, and I was able to nurse her right away (she had a really strong latch!). My parents stopped in for a few minutes so Hannah could meet her new sister, and Matt's parents were fabulous, coming every day and bringing us all kinds of treats and helping a great deal.  We also had several other friends and family visit, including my cousin Rachel who took some amazing and priceless pictures for us that I will treasure forever.

 She was worth it all. The shots, the glucose tests, the IV hydration and BPP's and hospital stays, and difficult all faded to black when I got to hold my sweet girl.  She is our rainbow girl, our dream come true.  

She is a dream baby. She has literally never cried for no reason, ever. I’ve never been around a baby with such a sweet disposition. She is a happy, friendly, agreeable little gal and I hope as she grows older she keeps those traits. She also has some crazy red hair.

The best thing about birth stories?

They are just the beginning. There is more to be written for our family, for our love, and for the life of our precious Caroline.

It's as if she's always been here.  

Jeremiah 1.5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Stuck In the Middle With You (and the name reveal spoiler)

Hard to believe the second trimester is almost over....I am not sure if we will be blessed with more children after this one, so I am truly treasuring this season of creating a new life. Although my life has never lent itself easily to new transitions, so far this one hasn't been bad at all.

Has it been an easy pregnancy?

Yep.  No morning sickness, and the doctor says everything is progressing perfectly.  My only issue is that my belly is now so large I can barely bend over. And forget about shaving my legs, it's a lost cause at this point.  It's so long I told Matt I might as well donate it to Locks of Love, LOL.

Are you getting nervous about delivery?

Physically no, emotionally yes. I know when I hold the baby in the hospital and cuddle her in the hospital, during that vital mother-child bonding time, it will hit me like a ton of bricks that NO ONE did that with Hannah. That for months my baby was alone and had no one to celebrate her birth, dress her in cute clothes, or even take a picture.  It's crazy but I think giving birth will make my love for Hannie even stronger.

Are you planning a natural childbirth?

I'm having a natural childbirth in that it's natural to take drugs that lessen excruciating pain.

How's Hannah handling things?

Pretty good, but not super excited about sharing her things with the newbie. I tried taking some old baby clothes of her out of her closet to put in the baby's room, and she wasn't happy. At this point, I am basically smuggling onesies out of there like a mexican drug lord.  I told her if she gave the baby the quilt from her toddler bed, she could go to the store and pick out all new bedding. She let that marinate for a few minutes and then slyly says to me...I think I'll just wait till my birthday for the bedding. So yeah.

Do you feel the baby move?

ALL. THE. TIME. Like, she never stops. There are two things that get her really excited. Graeter's Black Raspberry Chip Ice Cream and the sound of Hannah's voice. Both get me kicked in the ribs :-)

Have you been working on the nursery?

Yes!!!  Here are some pics....SPOILER ALERT...her name is on the wall :-)

So that is her name, Caroline Hope Eckert. We CAN'T WAIT to meet our Sweet Caroline. In the eternal words of Neil Diamond, 
Good Times Never Felt So Good.

Until Then,

Matt, Erin and Hannah

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Greatest Blessings...

Sometimes the greatest blessings in our lives are unexpected surprises.

We have an announcement.

Dum Dum Dum....

Matt and I are expecting a baby!  I am due in May! Cue the honeymoon baby jokes! No, we are not naming him Bob Marley if it's a boy!


Was it planned? How did it happen?

Sort of... And the usual way...the TV in our house was out for a week, LOL! We were planning to start trying in the winter, but as my wise office mate says, if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.... I've always said, What messes us up most in life is that picture of how things are "supposed" to be. This feels right for us, we are excited about the future. Having said that, we were TOTALLY shocked when the MD confirmed the pregnancy.  He said "Do you have any questions?" and the only one I could think of was, "Can I get my parking validated?!"

In the immortal words of the great Theologian Taylor Swift (Matt LOVES her..not!)

The stakes are high, the water's  rough, but this love is ours.

What does Hannie think?

She isn't buying it.  Her response? "Babies don't come from bellies Mom, they come from Kazakhstan..."  I tried to explain that sometimes babies come from bellies but she looked horrified and said,
"WHY would you eat a baby, Mommy?!"

I think she is going to be surprised when we go to the hospital, not the airport this time around...

Have you thought about names?

Not too much.  Hannah helpfully suggested Gilbert for a boy (I believe that is the name of Caillou's cat) and  Sunkist for a girl.  I would love to incorporate "Hope" somewhere in a girl's name, after my favorite bible quote and the first thing that popped into my head when I found out the Big News...

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you Hope and a Future."

Highs and Lows so far?

Highs -- Hearing the heartbeat on the first sonogram literally took my breath away.  Lows -- Not being able to fit into my jeans already! Funniest moment -- After staring at the sonogram, I confessed to MD that I am pretty sure the fetus doesn't appear to have a head...or maybe 3 heads (it seriously looked like a weird reptile for a while).

His cheerful response,"Don't worry, if it doesn't, you  will probably get our own show on TLC."

Are you nervous about delivery?

Yes and no.  I have complete faith in my midwife and doctors and I will be delivering at the best hospital in the area. Plus, I know the end result will be worth it.  As Galileo once said, "I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night..."

Are you worried about losing your bod?

Yes and No. I know it won't be the same, I know I won't be rockin' the bikini anymore.  But in the end, I chose a beautiful life over a beautiful body.

How is this journey different from the adoptive process?

It's love redefined. And don't get me started on people commenting on us having "one of our own." BOTH my children, adopted or bio, are my own and BOTH are miracles. It's weird not having to have a homestudy or completing a dossier or anything.  I mean, you need a license to drive a car or go fishing, but they are just going to hand me a baby at the hospital and let me leave with it?!

Are you excited?

We are over the moon.  Babies make love stronger, the days longer, nights shorter, bank accounts smaller, homes happier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for!

If you are hands will be should see our hearts!

Please say a prayer for the continued health and development of Baby Eckert :-)

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139: 13-14

Monday, April 8, 2013


I can't believe the wedding is 4 months away!!!  I can't wait. 4 months from now Matt and I will go from being each other's fiance to being spouses. A couple of married folks. Best friends for life. 

The wedding, I am looking forward to. The wedding PLANNING however...That's another story altogether. 

Every time someone asks how it is going, I say"sort of all done" and then I looked at our knot checklist (first mistake) and we have 137 days and 136 things left on the list.

Don't get me wrong, I love, love, love being engaged. It is amazing. all consuming. overwhelming. fantastic. i am just not very "Bridal". 

I am so thankful to my 5 wonderful bridesmaids who have gone above and beyond to help me with the planning process.  5 lovely women who have helped shaped my past, embrace each present, and influence my future. Every moment of my wedding will be better because they have been there, were there, and will be there. 

Some details...

We are having two showers.  One is an English "High Tea" planned by 3 of my bridesmaids, and one is a "wild and crazy couples shower" planned by a 4th bridesmaid and an awesome friend/neighbor.  The 5th bridesmaid is planning the destination Bachelorette party in Chicago!!!  

I haven't picked out my dresses for the showers yet, but there are a few strong contenders.  I have a soft spot in my wallet for Lily Pulitzer, may she rest in peace.

Last week we got our rings, and with them came some very special words,which we are incorporating into the ceremony....

"These beautiful rings serve as a physical reminder of the feeling you have in your hearts at this very moment.  There will be times in life when you will focus on things you have lost, things you don't have or things you have not yet accomplished. Yet as you look at your wedding band, let it speak softly of the great gift that you have been given today.  Let it remind you of all that you have in one another. Let it remind you that no matter how difficult life may seem, you always have someone to share it with. Never again will you walk alone."

I can't believe it's almost here...

A year and a half of dating,....9 mos of planning.... A life time dreaming....

More details....

Something Old - My dad's rosary will be around my bouquet
Something New - My dress is new
Something Borrowed - My headpiece belongs to my bridesmaid Ashley (I was her MOH a few years ago).
Something Blue - My bridesmaids will be signing the bottom of my shoes with blue sharpie, my garter is also blue.

I can't wait to see Matt at the end of the aisle, and hear the words of our wonderful priest....

"Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.

For after today you shall say to the world –

"This is my husband. This is my wife.

I am really trying to keep things in perspective...

In the midst of blogs and Martha Stewart weddings it is easy to get caught up in the dress, the flowers, the invites. How to decorate the space of the ceremony as opposed to the ceremony itself. I am trying to remember what is REALLY important in a wedding.

The words. The declarations. The vow of commitment. To the person and to Commitment itself.

 I can't wait to be A Bride. The Bride. His Bride.

More details....

We registered at Bed Bath and Beyond and Target (we wanted Ikea..WHY don't they have a registry?!).  With a three year old in tow.  Matt wanted to register at Bass Pro but I nixed that idea.  It was frankly a painful experience for all.  Matt kept looking longingly at the Buffalo Wild Wings across the street from the mall as I frantically  googled "what's the point of a table runner."  The only one who really enjoyed herself was Hannah, who now asks for a scanner gun anytime we enter a store.  

        Honeymoon...Couples Swept Away JAMAICA!!! We cannot wait. Having said that, we are traveling during the heart of hurricane season. We shall see.  

Our stretches of time relaxing will be juxtaposed with adventures into land and sea. We'll be snorkeling, sailing, zip-lining through canopies, and biking through the jungle. Most importantly this will be a trip of two best-friends, learning about each other through placidity and adventure. That's all we hope our lives together will be and we are looking forward to beginning this new chapter together in paradise.

I am already in love with Jamaica.... As they say..... "Once You Go, You Know".

                                                       My "airport" day after wedding shirt

The Rehearsal dinner will be a Bravo, hopefully out on the beautiful outdoor patio, with Bocci ball and white twinkly lights and lots and lots of delicious Italian wine.  I am over the moon excited! Our last party as "single". A dinner to celebrate with our wedding party and parents. A night of laughter and toasts before the best and busiest day of our lives.

As I think about my future. Our future. I am reminded that 

It wasn't always dahlias and sweet peas.

There were some broken roads that lead me here. 

Do I sometimes wish we were high school sweethearts? Sure. 
Do I sometimes wonder why it took a frog or two before my prince? Sure.
I took the Long Way Around...but Here I am.

Did I learn more about me, myself, and I every step of the way.

I did.

What brought me here, brought me you.
What was before makes after so much better.
Couldn't change it. Wouldn't even try.

And now...back to earth.  Weddings are ridiculously expensive, even with both sets of parents helping out. What did you all do?  Which came first? The Budget or The Dream??

The flowers and the candy buffet mock up (in different colors).

I am all about the DYI aspects, the late night bridesmaid get togethers, and luckily I have some very crafty and generous friends.  One is doing our cake for just the cost of the supplies, a teenage cousin who is very "techy" offered to video the wedding and reception.  Another awesome friend made all kinds of super cute signs and decorations for the Lodge, and yet another friend is letting us borrow centerpieces, candles, "candy buffet" glassware, etc. from her wedding last summer.  Did I mention we have amazing friends and family?! 


The friendships and the family that we are surrounded by only make our relationship stronger.  We have been showered with all of the love, happiness, and support of those we hold nearest and dearest. I am truly one of the luckiest women in the world to be held up, helped out, and loved by so many beautiful, strong, and inspirational people. My village is full and my heart is bursting.

And of course, there is Hannah. We need to talk about Hannah.

Because in the midst of hair trials, dress fittings, shellac manicures, invitation mock ups, who is sitting where woes and statement earrings, I still have a three year old. She is unsure of what is happening and grappling with the reality that her life is changing and no one asked her. Any advice on this would be more than appreciated.  I have fear, but I also have hope. We are starting family counseling this week, and our therapist comes highly recommended. I am trying not to let our "what was" get in the way of "what's next." After all, change is what life is all about, right?


Such moments of joy and happiness about to come my way. Our way.
So many we have already had.

Life is changing

Forever, for the better.

Now on with the show :-)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Tides They Are A Changin'....

In December, I started writing my annual "What I Learned in 2012 And What I'll Do Better in 2013" blog.  I love those blogs.  I find them cathartic.  I find them cleansing.  After all nothing is quite as spiritually purifying as turning over a new leaf.  And it feels oh-so-right.

But then December turned into a really, really hard month.  Maybe the hardest ever.  I tried to blog about it. It's not time yet.  Maybe someday, or maybe never.  Having said that, I should mention, I'm a big silver linings girl, and I did learn a few things:

1. Matt is a rock.  I am blessed and lucky (more about that later).

2.  Our family and especially our friends are supportive and amazing. Together, we can do hard things.

3. God Has a Plan. God Has a Plan. God Has a Plan.....

But enough about all that.

Here's what HAS happened since the last time I blogged:

Matt and I got ENGAGED :-)  As many of you know, my home slice and I have been dating for quite a while.  On Christmas Eve, he proposed and I said yes!  (My next blog is going to be all funny, wedding related stories; but patience, grasshoppers). Our wedding is in August, we are so excited to begin our Happily Ever After!

Hannah's health problems have IMPROVED!!  Many of you know that in August, Hannah was diagnosed with a mega colon.  This is a pretty serious issue, made even more complicated by the fact that we have absolutely no family history or medical background.  Although she has been bladder-trained since age 2, it made her impossible to bowel train.  At our surgery consult, it was suggested that we place her in the hospital for 17 days, insert a feeding tube, attach electrodes to her colon, remove the part that may or may not be working.  After hearing this news, I was hysterical, obviously.  For a child who has already been through serious trauma in her life, this, I felt this could be potenetially devastating. And my mother's instinct told me I was right. Her pediatrician agreed (we are so lucky to have an AMAZING pediatrician) suggested we do one more trial of medication, and, lo and behold, IT WORKED.  She is now completely potty trained and no longer in pain.    

Hannah is now 3 and half, and some of you should have warned me that three and a half (the half, she tells me, is very important) year olds suck the sanity right out of you.  Like, I love her, but after 4 straight snow days inside, I kinda wanted to light myself on fire.  Here are a few things she has recently tantrumed over:

1. Her birthday balloon is missing. (Her birthday was in July. The balloon was helium.  I threw it in the garbage 3 days after her party.  She miraculously remembered and lost her Sh** over it just this week.). Stay classy, Hannah.

2. Her best friend stole her invisible golden slipper, and wouldn't give it back.

3.  I won't let her go outside in 3 degree weather wearing a tank top and one sock.

4. I won't let her touch fire.

Calgon, Take Me Away.

On the flip side, We had lots of fun holiday family time, including a great trip to the Great Wolf Lodge, Sledding, trips to the museum and the zoo, IceFest, a cookie exchange, and Hannah's first trip to the dentist (no cavities, no surprise there, she brushes her teeth about 20x a day -- I blame Doc McStuffins.). Anyway, here are some pictures dating back to October....

 Matt is a HUGE Notre Dame fan (cue the win one for the pretend girlfriend jokes) and was excited to see this ice sculpture.

 Being her usually silly self.
 Training for...Cirque Du Soleil maybe? at the Great Wolf Lodge.
 You have never seen a person so excited to go to the dentist.  It was the best day of her life.
 Meeting her new cousin at Matt's cousin's Christmas party.  They warmed up pretty well :-)
 Helping Matt unwrap a Christmas present
 Fun with her best friend Isabella (who makes strange faces when we try to take her picture)
 Her first musical, she loved it!
 This is ALL ice.  I swear.  It's down in Nashville -- we went to the Opryland Hotel.
 Totally Amazing
 Matchy Matchy Mommy and Hannah
 Her new bedroom set
 And again.
 Out to eat
 Before her School Christmas Show.  Oy.  For the love of pete Hannah, please try to keep your dress down next year.  
 Santa Breakfast
 Festival of Lights at the Zoo
 Mad Goldilocks (it was too cold to trick or treat, she was bummed).

 Oxford's Halloween Parade
 Some snacks I made for her class party....

So there you have it folks, my first blog in 3 months.  There is so much I want to blog about.  I want to talk about blending families (the whole carriage before marriage thing isn't always easy), I want to talk about the wedding, and how Matt must NEVER know how much it costs, and I'd like to blog about how I'd like to try hillbilly hand fishing.  At any rate, I need to keep an accurate blog so Hannie will have something to show her therapist someday.  But Seriously folks, this blog could go in just about any direction.

Thanks for reading and I promise a funny wedding planning bloopers blog is on the docket for this week!  Blogging is cheaper than therapy :-) 2013, here we come.

In December, there were Tears.  There was a Storm.  There was a Sunset.  But there was also a Rainbow....

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow.      Love and Light, ~Erin