Our Christmas Letter 2018

Two thousand and eighteen was filled with many surprises! This year God as filled us with many blessings through growing our family. 

In January we officially put in our request for a legally free child to hopefully adopt through foster care. 

In February we got our second bunny, Daisy and at the end of the month we found out we were pregnant! We had to pull back from doing respite care because of how bad my morning sickness was.  Over all we had watched thirteen children and some we had come back a few times. We are continuing to wait on a hopeful adoption. 

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Spring is  honestly a blur to us. Finding out we had a high risk pregnancy we still wanted to celebrate his life so we went on a small weekend trip. We did two more trips in the Summer: Minnesota and Utah. Our house projects are almost done! We have done the roof, refurbished the wood floors together, put up a new shed, and added new base board trim through out the house. 

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Before Jason was born Peter went on a work trip and was able to come back early for his birth. On October twenty seventh our son was born! While Peter continues to work at the shipyard as a welder I get the blessing to be a stay at home mom. 

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Merry Christmas and many blessings,

The Echols 

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Labor Of Love

It was nine in the morning Thursday October twenty fifth we were at the dentist for Peter’s appointment. Once he was called my contractions began. I went out and walked in the halls and began breathing techniques. They became frequent so I started timing them. They were two in a half minutes apart. I texted Peter saying “I think we’re in labor.” After he was done we went to the little cafe. He got an eggnog latte and I got an eggnog. I couldn’t sit down so I stood and breathed through contractions thinking we had long road ahead but not realizing how long. After that we walked around Target. The contractions were still about two in a half minutes apart. We were in labor! I was so excited! we walked down the baby isle and then headed home. Four hours in labor we started texting people. I was still excited as the contractions started to get stronger.

We headed to the hospital at four thirty and checked in at five. They saw that the contractions were close but we still weren’t aloud to get a delivery room. I was dilated at a one and my water hadn’t broken. I was discouraged and didn’t want to go all the way back home trying to breath through it all in the Suburban. It was seven at night. They offered me pain medication that would ease the pain for two hours and a shot that would help me sleep. I was exhausted and tempted. So I asked about the side effects. They said hallucination. I passed on both. I was made to do this I told myself. So I passed. I knew I had to be focused and keep our baby safe so no sleeping pill for me. They suggested to take a Unisom when I got home and rest up for delivery. We were ten hours in by then. As we were leaving the ladies at the front desk suggested to walk the mall for an hour because some women’s water break right after being sent home. But I was tired and didn’t want to walk anymore.

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It was seven thirty at night by the time we got home. I go in the tub. Peter asked me if I wanted the Unisom. I passed. I was tired but wanted to keep going. I’ve trained for this and didn’t want to quit now. I had been waiting for this big day and chose not to medicate when I had Braxton hicks. This was unfamiliar pain that I wanted to teach my body in hopes for a natural labor. After getting out of the tub we did walking, and breathing together. Then we went in the room and Peter did pressure points pushing on my back to help ease the pain. 

Throughout the night Peter grazed on snacks keeping his energy up and having me sip on water and eat grapes between contractions. I was in so much pain. I knew I wanted to push through so I began to pray. During the hard ones I’d pray “Give me peace.” And when it was done I’d thank God for getting me through that round. When I was in the tub for the third time I’d find my focus point and pray and chant reminders in my head through the contractions.

God is my strength.

God is my peace.

God is joy.

God is going to get us through this.

God is good.

Thank you God that my baby is almost here.

It was six in the morning we twenty one hours in when we decided to try and go back to the hospital. Peter went around and grabbed the last bit of things. He got me my fuzzy body pillow that we bought when we found out we were pregnant as my comfort item. I wanted it with us for the end of the journey. I was afraid to get back in the Suburban. We took each step super slow. I had stopped on the steps. We stood and breathed through the pain. Right before we got in another contraction. Before we drove off we sat in the Suburban as it was heating up I squeezed my fuzzy pillow as more contractions came. One that set was finished Peter slowly started to drive. Most people in labor speed. But I asked him to drive slow. Speeding means something this urgent and wrong. Nothing was wrong. Had we sped it would’ve given me anxiety. Step by step and slowly is how we had to go about this. 

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I hugged and breathed into my pillow four sets of contractions. “We’re here.” Once Peter turned the car off I was breathing through my last set. Peter helped me out. As soon as I got out we breathed through another set. I looked at the hospital entrance hopeful. We shuffled to the doors. Three people offered us a wheelchair. Walking felt better at the time. We got in. Peter was telling the front desk we were there the night before and had checked in. As soon as we got in the room to see if we were aloud to stay and see if I had dilated more my water broke. We were standing next to the bed when I felt trickling down my leg as we were working through another set of contractions. “I think my water broke.” Peter checked and saw it running down my leg. A sense of relief and joy hit me. “My water broke” I kept saying. I couldn’t believe it. By this time we were twenty two hours in labor. I happily went to the bed hugging my pillow. I told Peter “They can’t kick us out, we’re here to stay.” 

When the nurse came in I thought she’d see I had dilated more. We told her my water broke and she said “lets get you checked in.” Because the next room was farther they wheel chaired me to the delivery room. At first I was hesitant. Peter gave me my fuzzy pillow. I hugged it tightly as we went. Contractions.  I was excited to enter our delivery room. As soon as we got there I was hooked up on IV’s on both arms, they put compression socks on me, a heart monitor for baby and a contraction monitor. I went from the wheelchair to the ball. It was fun to sit on but it didn’t seem to help. I went to the bed. I tried the Nitro Oxide gas but it only worked through a few contractions. They were getting too strong. It started to annoy me. When they saw I stopped using it I asked if could just hold it for psychological reasons. 

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The baths seemed to help me the most at home so I asked if I could take one. They asked me if I wanted to take the socks off. I said no. The less I was touched the better. We shuffled to the tub. I was aloud to be in it for only forty minutes, because they wanted me back on the heart and contraction monitor. After a quick forty minutes Peter helped me up. I stood….contractions. I stepped out. Contractions. We shuffled to the door. Contractions. They have gotten closer. I was getting less breaks. When I got to the bed they took off my compression socks and put on compression calf socks that would puff up. They were better because they could velcro off and on. I was back on the monitors.

I sat as we worked through some more. I stood up. I would squeeze Peter’s hand as we breathed through more contractions together. I saw that his hands were turning purple so I decided to squeeze his forearms instead. I needed his hands for pressure points. His forearms were hurting so he put on long sleeves. Every time we’d stand I would use peters shoes as a focus point. I’d stair at the laces. I kept getting checked for dilation progress. I was at a six. Time was lost. They checked me again and thought I was at a nine. I thought we’re going to make it. Almost to the finish line. I was eager and glad we went this far. 

When they said he was at a nine they said he needed to be turned and that we would be meeting him soon. They had me get up grab my fuzzy pillow and sat the bed up so I could get on my knees. A red arrow on the machine became my focus point. At every contraction I would command Peter to push. Peter pushed as hard as he could relieving my pain doing more pressure points. I’d peak over at the monitor watching the contractions sky rocket. Two hundred and fifty two is the highest I can remember. I took us three hours to turn him which only felt like fifteen minutes to me. Time had escaped me. 

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When the doctor came in to check on me she told me the news we didn’t want to hear. My heart sank. Here I thought we were so close. I felt defeated. Thirty four hours into labor to find out I was still at a six. I had a fever and his heart rate had dropped. It was time to make a decision. He couldn’t stay in longer. My fever could’ve given him an infection. She gave me the options Pitocin to induce or a c-section. She could tell I was afraid of both options and it was not what I had wanted. She said we should still induce because it will be closest to the kind of birth I wanted. I was supposed to be induced on October eighteenth but we asked to push it to October thirtieth in hopes to go into labor on my own. The one thing I tried to avoid was now my safest option.

My baby had to get out quick and safe. The doctor left the room giving me and Peter time to talk. When Peter and I were talking I asked him if we should c-section. “We are not doing a c-section” I’m so glad he said that. My mind wasn’t clear and before I told him to not let me do in unless it was the last option. When the doctor came back in we told her Epidural and Pitocin. She said my contraction levels were so high it was as if I had already been on Pitocin. I still asked for Epidural because I knew I needed the energy for pushing.

We worked through more contractions for twenty minutes. When it was time for epidural I had four big contractions before he put in the needle. I didn’t even feel it. Once I got my shot Peter went to take a nap. I chatted with the nurse. I could still feel some contractions but they were milder. Then I got the Pitocin. A few hours later it was time to practice pushing. Thankfully I was not completely numb. They said anytime I feel pressure to tell them. Three big pushes. They could see his head! They said I was a good pusher and I will see him soon. The doctor came in and I pushed she said it will be quick. I felt some stinging. 

Peter took pictures of his head starting to show. I pushed. I felt him slide out. The next thing I saw was my baby on a towel getting cleaned on my chest. Peter cut the chord. He didn’t cry at first. I was getting ready to hit his feet. But they got him to cough and make some noise. They rolled him to his side and used a sucker thing to get off the extra fluid on his face. They said he’s good they don’t need him to cry loud just a little noise is good. His cry was quiet and he stopped immediately when he was on me. 

Peter came and kissed me. As I was getting my stitch I closed my eyes holding my baby. He looked up at me. I looked back confused. It had all happened so fast. The nurses took pictures for us. Peter was the first to feed him. He was six pounds thirteen ounces, twenty one inches,  his Apgar scores were eight, he got all shots, hearing test, eye goop, and heal test.  It all finally hit me when we were getting ready to go home. This is my baby. 

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A Letter To Our Son

I grasp each day as our time comes to an end of our pregnancy.  After all this could be my last. A letter to our baby boy. 

 My baby boy, 

These are the last days I’ll ever be able to keep you this close to my heart. The last feeling of your little kicks. The last time you’ll hear my heart beat from the inside. The last days we will see your picture on a screen. The last days we get to hear your heart beat. The last days seeing you push and roll as you get stronger. These days will be missed and cherished forever.

But this is only the beginning….

When you come out to our world we will have new kind of closeness. For the first time we will look into each others eyes, and you will see another familiar voice who loves you so much, Daddy’s.  As we prepared the nursery and our hearts we have prayed for you. Our greatest desire is for you to know how much God loves you and for you to know him too. There is no greater love then the fathers love. 

We love you baby boy,

-Mommy and Daddy 

 

More on our pregnancy journey:

*Butterflies 

*Why My Heart Was Heavy On My First Mother’s Day

*Our Gender Reveal 

*The Bittersweetness Of Second Trimester

*Our Unknown Trial

 

 

Our Unknown Trial

Right before we have baby Peter was ordered to leave on a work trip. We saw this trip as a trial. There is so much to do still before baby gets here: house projects, ministry projects, and preparing for baby and yet God is our rock in the chaos.

James 1: 2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials for many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Everyone has their stuff and the old man haunting them. We were reminded of Romans 8 and Romans 12. Being separated made me realize how much I had been struggling with my identity in Christ. 

Through out the day the Holy Spirit would speak to my heart.

Romans 8: 1-2 “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

Romans 8: 26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

Romans 12: 2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

As my heart would battle throughout the day I would be reminded who has everything under control and pray for peace. Sometimes our hearts have to break for us to be rebuilt. Each day after praying together Peter and I would talk about the victories we had in Christ. Each day my heart would struggle and I knew where to turn.  

One day my heart was really struggling. My mind was filled with lies and anger but my heart was reminded of the verse that says ‘all you need is the faith the size of a mustard seed’ as my heart believed I txted Peter the verse.  The phone rings right after. He calls to tell me he’s coming home!

Only God fully understands the aches of our hearts, how I longed to be with Peter and how to meet me where I was at. Peter is home now and we are so thankful how God has grown our marriage through the unexpected adventure we went through. 

 

 

 

The Bitter Sweetness of Second Trimester

For some reason leaving second trimester has been super bitter sweet for me. Although entering the third means we are closer to meeting our little guy sooner there is something special that only second trimester held for me. My pregnancy became a reality for me and I was able to enjoy preparing for him. 

The first 22 weeks my heart and mind was full of survival and confusion. Struggling with Hyperemesis Gravaderum made me forget that it wasn’t a sickness I had. It was apart of the journey that Peter and I were enduring together, pregnancy. Weeks would pass by and I wouldn’t remember what day it was. I would look at the sonogram and to remind myself this is why I was sick and why I had to keep trying to keep any liquid or food down. We had to fight for our baby’s health. 

My pregnancy became a reality on week 20 when I knew for sure that he had kicked. The moment wasn’t how I thought it would be, but it was unforgettable. On week 21 we found out we were having a son. By week 23 I was officially done puking and nausea had left. I was finally able to drink water again! My energy came back and I was able to do light chores around the house. When I started making decor for his nursery I thought this is what second trimester feels like. This is a small glimpse of the glow everyone is talking about. The feeling of the second trimester was short for me but I am thankful for it.  

Her Dreams Gives Us Freedom

And just like that she is off to the Marines. My heart is in a twist of emotions. I am happy that she is chasing her dreams, but it was just yesterday our parents brought home my little sister. It was just yesterday……

We were doing sleep overs at grandmas,

She would make me blizzards and we’d watch tv,

She was on the basket ball team,

She was in my wedding,

She graduated college,

and now she is gone. 

Growing up our mom always said “You’re a missionary everywhere you go. Everyone’s field looks different.” I guess Jenny’s is the Marines. 

Marines has always been a dream of hers. Because of her dream my child doesn’t have to hear the sound of guns or bombs blowing up, due to an attack. My child doesn’t have to see people running for their lives daily from pillagers, or breath in the ash of the park we once strolled. Because of her dream we are free. 

Friends and family I ask for prayers of encouragement as Jenny begins her journey. 

Pray for:

 Her faith grows more each day as she seeks the Lord.

That she will make good Christian friends.

That those around her see Christ shining through her. 

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Why My Heart Was Heavy On My First Mother’s Day

I think about it often but on Mother’s day I think about it the most. 

I think of the strongest moms out there.

The moms who have dealt with loss. Whether that’s through death of  a miscarriage or after birth, failed adoption, or infertility.  As I feel possible kicking in my belly from baby this day my heart is heavy. You are in my constant prayers. 

Not only for your loss but also for the journey you are on. People forget that today is just another day for you.  They don’t know what to say so they pass in silence. When all you really want is to be heard. 

I hear you strong mamas loud and clear. I am interested in your journey. Your journey does not need to be a journey of painful silence and it shouldn’t be. Ignoring or putting you in silence does not take away the hurt. It only steepens it. Your journey should be echoed and prayed for. Because God hears the broken hearted and so should the rest of us. 

Strongest mamas you are loved, you are prayed for, and you are heard.

What Is A Heart Baby?

 

A heart baby is a baby an adoptive mom prays for while she waits, wanders and loves baby even before they meet. Just as a biological baby grows in their tummy, her love for baby grows. 

When we choose to be parents of any sort biological or adoptive we are putting ourselves in a vulnerable position. Our hearts are on the line for as long as we step into the realm of parenthood. I have dragged my feet for fear of my heart being shattered. I know grief. But I also know love. 

Beginning our adoption journey my mind has been filled with questions. What will she be like?

Who will she become?

Will she choose to love the Lord?

I peak in the nursery as my mind wanders.

This is her growing in my heart. 

She is my heart baby. I don’t know her. But as we wait we pray. 

Some babies grow in mommies tummies and some grow in mommies hearts.