Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It begins early

At 23 weeks I develop this increasing cramping pain and go in to see the doctor. They do a cervix scan and tell me my cervix has shortened quite a bit since a week and half ago and want to see me again in two days. I was told if it was shorter I would be hospitalized so might as well bring a bag with me. I was crushed because my baby shower was the weekend and I just knew I would be going into the hospital. Sure enough Thursday comes and it shortened. I just cried and cried but I knew this would be happening, but I wanted to wait until I was further along. My babies are not ready to come out yet.

I've been in the hospital for almost a week now. The doctors are going to re-evaluate me and tell me my fate this week. I'm planning on staying in the hospital because I have this gut feeling the twins will be born before the end of the month. I pray they stay in for a long time, but I just know that isn't the case. My mom keeps telling me to stop saying that and I should have a positive attitude. I do, that is the thing. I just know that's all... I got steroid shots so they should help.

We are preparing ourselves for a long NICU stay. It will be so hard leaving my babies in the hospital when I am discharged. I just can't believe it's coming so soon. This year has been one hell of a roller coaster.


I grieved privately for a long time, as did Eric. I only broke down once. It was just Eric and I in the car on our way to Marion. We talked about the twins and I started to cry. I asked Eric if he though the babies have forgiven us and he started to cry to. Gosh while I am typing this I am getting teary eyed... We pulled over and I just lost it. I told him I miss my babies and I hope they can forgive me and I hope Eric can forgive me for having to make this decision with him. He told me it wasn't my fault and we did what was best for our twins. It still hurts to this day but I know that they will be waiting for me and they are protecting me now. One day I will tell Adam and Emma about their unborn siblings.

Since that day I have been able to focus on the twins. We found out about 17 weeks that we are having a boy and girl. We named them Adam Bennett and Emma Marie. We got the nursery together really quickly since we didn't know when I would have to be put on bed rest. We became excited each time we saw their little heads and body and just prayed that they would stay with us. I rented a Doppler so I could hear their heartbeats each night before bed. I just felt so much more at ease and pregnant. It was like I could actually enjoy being pregnant. My sickness was going away and I was feeling much better about everything. Soon I could feel them move and then it became real. They are really in there. Then Eric could feel them on the outside and it became more real to him also. We know how blessed we are with our babies on board and we are holding our breaths for a safe and healthy delivery.

The long road ahead

I kept a front at work and with my family (expect mom and dad, MIL) and acted like nothing was wrong and that we were excited to be expecting twins. That is what everyone was told anywho. We had a meeting to talk to the reduction specialist on the telephone within a week to discuss the plan.

He called and was very nice and explained everything to us in detail. I had tons of questions, like will all the babies die? What are the chances that they will make it? How do you decide which ones to keep? I was told that my chances of keeping the twins that we aren't reducing is 90%. Pretty high rate I thought. However, our chances for preterm labor is very high. He explained that my body can't reset itself and even though there are only two babies in there the body still thinks that there are 9. I would be lucky to make it to 30 weeks he said. We did have the option of aborting the whole pregnancy but we didn't want to do that... we came this far we might as well see it through.

I had mixed feelings about the reduction. I didn't want to do it, but then again I know I couldn't carry nine babies and expect them to come out ok. There are NO recorded cases of any live births of nine or more babies. One women in the middle east tried to carry them but all of them died due to severe prematurity. The closest was an American women who had 8 and they lived, but some have physical hardships. If I am being told that reducing the pregnancy to twins will give my children a fighting shot of living without problems you better damn well believe that is what I am going to do. I fought many time with myself, prayed a lot and cried but I was able to make the decision to go on with the process.

We scheduled the reduction in Pittsburgh for the 2nd week of May. My mom and MIL took the trip with us. It was so scary. I went in for the ultra sound to make sure that there were still nine in there. Sure enough all nine were beating away. I was 11 weeks pregnant and prayed that some would leave on their own and find new families that wanted children, but I guess my kids take after their mom and hard headed. They stuck around. It was heartbreaking. The room I was in for the ultra sound also served as the reduction room. A stupid aid came in to set up the "amino"... we corrected her and made her leave. She just upset me more. The doctor came in and explained what would happen... he would inject me with numbing medication then insert a long needle into my belly followed by ultrasound. He would enter the sac of the fetus and inject potassium chloride into the fetus' heart to make it stop beating. Once the heart has stopped he would remove the needle and start again with the next fetus. If he could get two at one time he would to prevent 7 different sticks. He had me and Eric sign paper work stating that we are approving an abortion. I disagreed with the wording because I didn't feel like I was having an abortion, I felt like I was saving the lifes of two babies. But in the state of Penn it considered an abortion and we had to sign it. The doctor left the room and another doctor came in to do an hour long ultra sound. She said she would be determining what babies we would keep. She wouldn't explain anymore, nor did I want to know.

Finally it was time for the reduction. I was so scared. My mom and MIL tried to keep me occupied by telling me storied and having me talk about other things. It helped a lot but still was hard. It was quite painful. I'm not sure if it was knowing that I was loosing babies that day or the burn of the potassium. I just prayed for the Lord to forgive me and for my children to forgive me and know that I love them and always will. The procedure took about 2 hours to complete. I was black and blue from the sticks. He told me to lay still for about 15 mins and they would come back to repeat the ultrasound to make sure my twins were still ok and confirm the other 7 had passed.

The doctor came back in and did the ultra sound. They were quite at first then showed me my twins. They were moving around and had strong heartbeats. I was quite relieved. They he told me to look away and that Eric could look if he wanted. Eric was interested and he did so the doctor showed My moms and Eric the passed fetus. He then explained that 2 that had been reduced still have a slight heartbeat. I was confused. He said sometimes that happens but normally they pass on later. He told me not to worry about it now but will have me come back tomorrow morning for another ultra sound. If the two are still beating I would have to come back a week later for a repeat reduction. I was faint.

We went to the hotel that afternoon and prayed that the two babies would go. We went to the office that morning and was told it would not be the case. Their heartbeats had gone up in fact. However, part of their heart valves were damaged by the medicine and if we decided not to reduce them again it would just cause more problems. We left Pittsburgh that afternoon saddened. I had to go back and do it again. I can't believe it. I was being punished I just knew it. Eric and I decided to go it alone this time. We went back and the reduction didn't take that long. This time he made sure the hearts completely stopped before he removed the needle and I was glad for that. My two little ones wanted to stay with me and that broke my heart. We stayed the night again and Eric talked me into swimming in the pool to ease my mind. It was relaxing and I was able to forget about it for a while. We ordered room service that night and watched a movie. We didn't say much.. we just held each other while we drifted off to sleep. I had horrible dreams that night and cried for my 7 babies.

The start of hell

I was floored when I saw that positive pregnancy test. Actually it was 1 am and I woke from a dead sleep having to pee... it was the "first pee of the day" so I went in a peed on the sick. It took maybe 30 seconds for the digital read "PREGNANT" to appear. I just looked at it and looked at it. Could it possible be? It had been more than 10 days past the trigger so the HCG was out of my system for that. I ran into the bedroom and woke up my husband. Look honey I said, we're pregnant. He said that was nice and layed back down.. then woke up and said What?? Yup I'm pregnant. He got a goofy smile on his face and kissed me and fell back asleep. I was wired and went downstairs. I called my sister, my mom and texted my MIL. I was so happy.

Easter came and we went up to Marion. On the way up there I lost my cookies big time. Like we had to pull over on the high way so I could puke my guts out. Too early for morning sickness I thought... there was something wrong. I felt like shit the whole day but tried to keep a smile on my face while we went to house to house to celebrate the day. We didn't tell anyone that didn't already know because we had just found out and waiting on our second beta to come in.

Come Monday I couldn't stand. I was so sick. I called my RE and told her something was wrong and I couldn't keep down water. She told me I was hyper stimulated and I needed to be seen ASAP. A long day in the ER wound up with me getting sicker and sicker by the minute. They sent me home on a fluid only diet. I couldn't even keep that down. I called my mom on Tuesday and just told her to help me. I felt like I was dying. My sister came down and drove me to the RE's office. Was a swollen, couldn't breath well, and puking up a storm. The RE tried to tap me vaginally (removing fluid off my belly) and it hurt like hell. I cried out in pain. The RE stopped what she was doing and told me I was being admitted to the hospital. I called my husband and he met us there. I spend a solid week hospitalized and feeling like I was going to die. Seriously, I didn't care if I died.. if it meant me feeling better I would have gladly went. God had other plans for me though.

The day before I left the RE came to tap me again but this time from my belly. I had gained 3o lbs due to the fluid and it had to come out. I couldn't breath hardly. I'm not going to lie, it hurt like hell but once she was finished it was a relief. I was discharged the next day and was told to come back to the office on April 9th for my first ultra sound. She had done one in the hospital but she wouldn't let me see the screen. I saw fear in her eyes and I knew something was wrong.

April 9th came... I still felt like shit but not as bad as before. I could actually work now. We went in for the ultra sound and she placed the probe inside me. She started to cry and showed us the screen...Look Elizabeth... there are 8 possibly 9 babies with heartbeats. What I said? She said yes... there they are. Yup there are nine. She showed me every last one and I started to cry. I didn't feel anything at that moment. I just looked at my husband and cried. He cried with me and she took out the probe. She told me to get dressed and come to the office when we were done. She left crying.

The rest is somewhat a blur but I remember talking to a reduction specialist in Pittsburg and New York and coming to terms with what I am dealing with. There is no way you can make it with nine babies she kept telling me. Either you will die or the babies will die. You have no choice. My mind just kept spinning. How will I tell my Catholic parents, who should I tell, who will judge us... why is this happening to us... how in the world could we be so selfish and foolish? WHY DIDN'T WE LISTEN?

My mind just kept spinning. We left the office with tons of paperwork, numbers to call, our ultrasound picture, and an empty heart. This was suppose to be the best day! We were going to see our little bean that we created together. Instead we left knowing we will some of all the babies that we have now.

My mom called as soon as we left the office. My husband urged me not to answer the phone but I know it was no use. She would keep calling she knew what we were doing today. I answered and asked her if she was sitting down. I told her not to react since she was at work and what I was about to tell her could not leave her lips unless she was telling my dad. I begin to tell her that yes we are confirmed pregnancy, however, we are pregnant with nine babies, yes nine mom, like 8 then 9... Yes we are sure mom.. I know mom... it's bad news... I don't know what we are going to do.. we just found out mom... please pray for us. I ended the call crying and stunned. Eric and I didn't talk the whole way home. He stopped at Olive Garden to get something to eat. I don't know why, maybe to do something normal? We parked and I told him he needs to talk to me. He just broke down and cried. I told him to call his mom and let her know. While he was doing that I called my friends at work and lied. I told them the appointment went great and there were twins! I know I can't believe it either... I know we are so happy...

I got out of the car and Eric was crying to his mom on the phone. I don't know what they said to each other but once he got off he just held me and told me we will get through this. We had lunch and went home and made the phone calls to the different specialist we would have to see in the coming months.

The honeymoon and first year

It was bliss. Mexico was wonderful and we still talk to this day how we need to go back one day. We spent a lot of time "together" as any new husband and wife should but also explored. We went horseback riding, site seeing, and just laying on the beach. The honeymoon went by quickly too... we though to ourselves on the flight home is our life going to go by this fast too?

We got home and settled into married life. Honestly, nothing really felt different. We acted like an old married couple for many moons now and now it was just official.

Right off the bat we talked about kids and how many we wanted to have. Way before we thought about marriage we both had this crazy dream the same night how we would have three children. Two boys and a girl, but one of the boys and the girl would be twins. We always thought we would have one boy first then end up pregnant with twins later in life (we were wrong with that one, but still kinda right). We started to pick out names even. It was really cute. That's what I mean, before we even talked about marriage we just assumed we would be together forever. That's how connected we are.

Not long after the wedding we talked about going off birth control. It was December 1st, 2005 and that was the last day I would take the pill. We were very nervous and expected a fast pregnancy. Boy were we wrong! Come April I hadn't had a period and was frustrated about the many negative pregnancy tests. I called my OB and told her what was going on. She had me come in and give me a beta test (to check for pregnancy hormone) and it was negative. I told her how we have been trying to get pregnant but I wasn't having a period. She gave me progesterone to "jump start" my cycles again since coming off the pill could put it on hold. Sure enough I had a period not long after starting the medication. We waited and tested and nothing. I called her again in July and told her the only period I had was one from the medication and still getting negative test results. She gave me another beta test and that was negative too. She told me that I probably had Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and that was causing me not to have a period. She ordered an HSG test to make sure my tubes were open. I had that done in August 2006 and it came out normal. She gave me a script for Clomid (no instructions, just take take it). I did and she did another beta test at 28 days into my cycle and it was negative too, but I didn't start my period either so I was really frustrated. She told me to take the medication again but this time come in on cycle day 21 for a progesterone test. That would tell her if I was ovulating. I did and my results came back at .41. I didn't ovulate. That was the first smack in the face. If I wasn't ovulating I wasn't going to get pregnant. I spent two more months with her before I decided to take matters into my own hands and meet with a reproductive endocrinologist. I would get pregnant I determined. She confirmed the PCOS and tried two more cycles of the Clomid. This time I was monitored and new well in advance something wasn't working out. In February 2007 we did our last round of Clomid and it didn't work out. No eggs for me. I had gone a full year trying to get pregnant and it just killed me. I was tired, frustrated, and hopeless. She suggested that we try indictable fertility drugs. Something stronger to get me to make eggs. She promised I would make eggs and since Eric's swimmers were perfect we wouldn't have any trouble getting pregnant that way. The problem was we couldn't afford the medication at that time. So we decided to quite the IF route and chill out for a bit. I was heartbroken. In March 2007 I started to see an acupuncturist and she did help me get my cycles back, but I still wasn't ovulating. I guess they were fake bleeds and I only had a couple. We kept trying though.

In October 2007 I got my employee benefit handbook and about fell out of my chair when I learned my insurance at work would now cover infertility treatments and drugs! We were over the moon! I signed up and excited that we would be able to start a cycle in January. We called our RE and went in for a refresher appointment and got a game plan set for the coming year.

To celebrate we took a Cruise to help ease our mind and get ready for baby making!

January came and I took the progesterone to start my cycle. I stared Follistim the end of January and went through my first cycle. Come the middle of February I learned that I wasn't making any eggs to go through the IUI and was cancelled. I was crushed! I wasn't going to wait for my body to start the period on it's own so I took more progesterone and called the nurse on CD 1 of a new cycle. We started the Follistim again but this time at a higher dose. It was March 8, 2008 when the blizzard hit. We HAD to get to the clinic to get my blood results and see how many eggs I had. What typically takes 20 minutes turned into 2 1/2 hour drive to the clinic, but we made it. We learned I had too many eggs and the doctor would call me back to give me my E2 levels, but chances are we would be cancelled again.

I went home and was crying. Not again I said.. I will make this work! When you go through infertility you get desperate for a baby and your mind goes fussy. You don't make the logical decisions you need to.

I got a call and was told my E2 levels are too high. If I trigger she won't do an IUI because of the high risk for multiples but in the end it was my decision. I talked to Eric and we agreed to do the trigger and then make love all weekend long in hopes for a baby. I prayed while I took that shot and each time we were intimate praying for the baby we both so desperately wanted. God must have heard my prayers because two weeks later on Good Friday I got a positive pregnancy test.

The wedding

Not long after we planned the wedding. It would be October 15, 2005. Yes, a while away but I wanted to drink at my wedding and we loved October so we decided to wait. 2004 seemed to drag forever but towards the end of the year we decided to find a house and call it our own. Since we were still in school we found a place just outside of Columbus and bought it by ourselves December 31, 2004. We moved in the very next day and begin to set up our house and realize we were house poor... Stupid college kids! We made it though and got better jobs to support our higher bills. All that year we planned the wedding.

It would be a Catholic church wedding with a large reception at the country club courtesy of my parents. I didn't have to pay a dime, and glad because I didn't have a dime to spare. I picked out my dress, my colors (burnt orange and navy) and everything else. I actually became bridezilla for a while. I am an obsessive over organizer and it just had to be perfect. I loved everything about me wedding.. the flowers, the DJ, the food, the venue, everything. Eric and I planned to honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta. We had saved about $1600 for the trip and found a great deal to stay at an all inclusive report and air fare included. We were pumped.

The wedding day came very quickly. Almost too fast. It was a magical day though. I remember getting ready to walk down the isle and seeing my dad just look so proud. I didn't cry until I saw his emotionless step-father crying at the sight of me. Then I lost it. Eric was crying like a baby and was so happy to see me. We held hands throughout the wedding.. even the priest mentioned how much in love we are. I was so happy to become Mrs. Stevens that day. It truly was the best day of my life. I married my soul mate, the man I am going to grow old with, the man I will have my children with... nothing could be more perfect.

We left in a limo to the country club and kissed the whole way there. We are so in love and it showed. The reception was kick ass. It was the best that anyone in my family had seen and it was talked about for years to come. It went so fast though. Soon it was 7 pm and it was time for us to leave. We had an hour drive home and a 5 am flight to Mexico the next morning. Our car was packed up and we kissed our families goodbye and told them not to expect to hear from us for the next week. We thanked everyone and left. The drive home was kinda surreal. We were man and wife driving to our house for the first time. We got home and unloaded the car. We were beat but opened our gifts looking for spending money. We made out very good and got a lot of nice things. We crashed and didn't get a change to consummate our marriage. We didn't care though, it's not like that would be different! We woke up at 3 am kinda grouchy but very excited and left for the airport. We had breakfast and was on our flight.

The proposal

It was December 23, 2003. It was a rainy day in Columbus and I had the blues. I loved snow and there wasn't to be any for Christmas this year. I was working in the cash office at Meijer and getting ready to leave for the holiday. I didn't have to work Christmas Eve or Day so I was planning to go home to my family. Eric was driving up with me but he would stay at his parents house. It was about 1 pm in the afternoon when we left down for the hour drive back home. I had been working since 5 am that morning and I was starving. He ordered Papa Johns Pizza to take up with us. We drove up 71 North and I was watching our exit past by. Uh dear you missed the exit... he said without skipping a beat "Oh crap, well I can get off in Mt. Gilead and head up that way". I was a little peeved off since I hate going off course. We drove by the state park (yes the one where we had the kiss) and he pulled in. "I just want to see it since we are here. Come down with me". I told him no since it was raining and cold. " Oh come on please just come with me". There was some urgency in his voice but I didn't catch on. I was just pissed off but went anyway. We walked down the long hill to the water fall. However there wasn't much water and it was kinda ugly this time of the year. He held me though and backed up and said "Wow look at that".. He pointed to the woods and I looked. I turned around and said "What do you..." he was on his knees in the pouring rain and looking up at me. He said "Elizabeth, I love you with all my heart and soul, please do me the honor and make me your husband". I was dumbfounded. He pulled out a slick black box and opened it up. It was a beautiful 1/2 caret round diamond engagement ring with white gold. (I love white gold). I still didn't say anything.. I was shocked. He looked at me and said "well?" I said YES YES YES and he got up and kissed me so hard. He put the ring (his hands shaking) on my finger and kissed me some more. He told me he loved me and this is the best day of his life. The first thing that I said is OMG my parents... holy shit they are going to flip! Then he proceeded to tell me that I was the last to know. He went up weeks ago and asked my father for my hand and showed the ring for approval. He told his parents too and everyone was waiting for us to congratulate our engagement. I was dumbfounded again. You are slick Mr. Stevens that is for sure. I oogled me ring the rest of the way to my parents house. We got our and my mom didn't say a word just looked at me and I started to cry. She was so happy and hugged us both and proceed to call Eric son and brought us inside. The rest of the day was a blur but that moment in time will never be forgotten.

As the year went on...

We grew closer and closer and fell in love more and more each day. I remember the first time we told each other we loved one another. We were sitting in my car in the parking lot at Meijer. We were kissing and holding hands before we had to go into work. He pulled away, looked into my eyes and said "I love you"... just as fast he looked away and said "Oh, I'm sorry... it slipped out"... I asked "Do you mean it?" He said yes of course and I smiled and said, don't be sorry then, I am in love with you too. We just looked at each other and kissed more. From that day forward we didn't miss a single day.

Towards the end of the year Eric told me that he was thinking about transferring to the main campus in Columbus and he wanted me to come with him. Come with him I said.. like live together? Of course that is what he meant. We made plans to transfer together and get an apartment near campus and live together. It was a big step since I was only 19 and were weren't engaged or anything. Spring 2003 came and we decided to take a vacation together. We decided on Dallas/Fort Worth Texas. He wanted to show me where he used to live when they lived on the air force bases. We made flight and hotel plans. It would be the first time that I would travel and the begging of my passion for traveling. Our parents wasn't too keen on a private vacation, and this was before we told them we planned to move out in the summer... We decided to take the vacation in June since that would be a nice time to go and we also decided to move into our apartment that month so we were making plans to tell out parents. I forget how this all went down but basically told my mom and dad and my mom flipped out stating I couldn't live with a man before I was married (we're Catholic). I gave her the I'm 19 crap and I want to do so deal with it. Besides I am in love this man and I will marry him, It's just not the right time. They did give their blessings and helped us look for a place. Even acted as co-signers. How nice! I think Eric's parents were fine with it since he was 21 and it was time for him to move out anyway.

The vacation was great. Not the most planned out vacation we have taken but it was our first time. We spent many days just laying in the hotel room and the rest exploring the cities. We got on the air force base without military badges (amazing since it was post 9-11). He showed me with pride his old house, elementary school, play ground, and where his friends lived. I got the appreciation that he loved it here and was sad to move. He lived all around the world and moved about every 2 years so he didn't have the chance to set any roots anywhere. I was honored to be with him and loved every second of it.

Moving day was upon us and we were excited and nervous. He purchased our queen size bed and our first couch and we moved into our little one bedroom apartment. It wasn't much but it was ours. We loved it there, mostly because we were together. It was weird living with him at first because you really don't know someone until you live with them. I was glad to find out that we melted well and we soon fell into a pattern.

The rest of the year I hinted to him that I wanted more out of our relationship. I wanted to be with him always. I wanted to marry him. He agreed, but firmly stated that he wanted to wait. I don't know what I was thinking but I told myself if he didn't propose to me by the end of the year I was moving out and going back home. I'm not wasting anymore time with this. I didn't want to play games and spend my time with someone who wasn't serious about me. Every major event I got excited.. was this going to be the day? Nope, not my 20th birthday, not Thanksgiving.. it was nearing Christmas and I was getting sad. There was no way he is going to propose to me. He hadn't hinted or spent any money. I was managing out bills so I would see if bought something on his credit card. However, he is the smooth one and he had a plan.

Our first month

I woke up that morning in bliss. Did it really happen? Not long after that thought my cell phone rings. It was Eric wishing me a good morning and that he couldn't sleep... he thought about me all night. I said I did the same and couldn't wait to see him again. We made plans to go for a drive later that afternoon. He picked me up at my parents house. My parents weren't home and it was just my younger siblings. No lie, as soon as the door bell ring there was a huge crash. My bother threw something at my mom's fish tank and 50 gallons of water and fish were flowing onto the carpet. I freaked out. I first ran to the door, greeted my future husband and told him there was an accident and wait out side. I slammed the door and begin to yell at my brother. I left the mess because Eric was way more important than some stupid fish and called my mom and told her what happened. She flipped of course but the rest is a blur.

He drove me out to the country and talked to me. We held hands the whole time and just talked and talked. That is what I loved most about him. He actually could keep a conversation about interesting topics. Generally he was interested in me! The night ended with dinner out, thanks to him and he dropped me off at home. I was waiting to be kissed but so such luck. We hugged again and said he hoped to see me tomorrow at work. Of course I said but we should keep our relationship quite as I didn't want rumors at work. It was none of their business. I got home by 10 pm that night. I guess he didn't want to piss my parents off.

The next day we eyed each other all night but kept our promises and didn't act like we were dating. Which was weird because neither of us stated that we were dating it was just assumed by both partied. He walked me out to my car that night and wished me a good day at school tomorrow and he wouldn't see me since he held two jobs and he had to work both for the rest of the week. I was crushed but didn't let it show. He hugged me again and said he would call me to see how I was doing. We made plans to go out for dinner and a movie that weekend. I was so excited and couldn't wait for Saturday. I wasn't swimming anymore since the season was over and I was getting ready to graduate. I had time on my hands now since I was only working 4 hours a night during the week and maybe 6 hours on the weekends.

Saturday came and Eric came and picked me up and we went to the mall to catch a movie. Surprise my parents followed us and claimed they didn't know I would be out here, but since we are here who is this fellow you have been seeing? I introduced Eric to my parents (how weird) in the middle of the mall. He was so mature and shook my father's hand and said that I was such a sweet girl and he is happy to know me. Basically he impressed my parents and left. I apologized for what seemed like an hour (how embarrassing!) but he didn't think anything of it. We watched some movie and left to grab something to eat. The night went by so fast and soon I was in my driveway again. Still no kiss.. I was starting to get a little peeved off but took my hug and got a promise to see me tomorrow. He wanted to take me to a park for a hike.

Sunday morning came and Eric picked me up about noon and we drove to Mt. Gilead State Park. I had never been there before but it was such a beautiful day. There was a pretty river that flowed into a water fall and beautiful woods behind. I am not much into hiking or being outside for that matter but I went anyway because I was in love and wanted to be where he was at all times. After the hike we went down near the river and watched the water fall over the break. It was so peaceful not a soul around. He told me that he saw us being together and that he wanted to kiss me. I told him yes, I wanted to kiss him too... and we did. We kissed and it was magical. You know how you first kiss someone and it seems a little weird because you never kissed before and you might have missed their lips or something, not this time. It was perfect.. leg popping perfect. We connected and it felt great. We kissed for a long time and then pulled away. We just looked at each other and just knew. We were meant to be. We never said anything about it... just held each other and walked back to the car. I swear I will always remember that day.

Not long after that day he was bugging me to take him to my senior prom. I went to my junior prom with Ben and had a horrible time and decided not to go to my senior. There was not point.. why spend all the money to have your feet hurt by the end of the night? No sir! I declined him not because I didn't want to show him off, but just because it was like next week and I couldn't pull anything together by then. He said I would regret it and I do... but our wedding made up for it.

Graduation was knocking on my door and I was so happy. I was starting school at OSU in the fall and Eric and I would be attending school together. Although, I found out that I was graduating the same day that his sister (he had a sister?) and his birthday and he didn't think he would make it to mine. I was a little heartbroken but understood. I didn't talk to him at all the morning of my graduation since we had to be there sooo early and the darn thing took all day! After I threw my cap I waited for my family to come out and congratulate me. They did and low and behold there was Eric. I busted into tears right then and there. He left his sister's graduation to come to see me. He said he saw me walk down the isle and get my diploma and he was proud of me. Then he said he wanted me to meet his family at his sister's graduation party. I agreed to go since my party was the day before. Meeting his family was weird. His mom just looked at me like I was stealing her son and his step-father just glanced at me, didn't say one word.. and then his sister acted like I was some snob. I don't know what that meant but I didn't get a good reception to say the least. Eric could tell that it was a little awkward so we left. I forget what we did but we did make out. Ahh...

The odd stage...

During that month of total avoidation, I found out that Ben was cheating on me. Great! I lost the potential catch of the year because I gave this dumb-ass, cheating mother fucker yet another try. I was sooo pissed off. It was October and I was bound and determined to let Eric know that I wanted to date him. I was working register on lane 1 ( I know this because it was the one closest to the door). It was a late Sunday night and we were dead. I saw Eric coming through my lane with a dozen roses. My heart skipped a beat because they had to be for me. He looked up and saw me and about fainted. He didn't say a word, paid for the flowers and jetted out the door. What the hell? Turns out he bought the flowers for some hoochie mama (I'm being nice here) named Latisha. Who names a white girl Latisha? Anywho- the flowers weren't from me. The news spread like wildfire and it turns out Eric and Latisha were an item. WONDERFUL.

I went home and cried my eyes out. My sister Lori helped me develop a plan... why not break them up? Great idea, but how? It took me a while to plan my course of action. I would send him notes just like he did with me. But since he didn't go to high school and I didn't know where he lived I would have to place them in his coat pocket at work without being detected. By this time it was after the Holidays and getting near January. Every night he was working I would sneak up to his coat and place a cute little note inside his jacket. He would know who they were from. Well a few weeks of this went by and nothing from him. Not even a glimpse. I guessed he told Latisha about me because she was spreading all kinds of rumors about me and hardly anyone would talk to me. She even went out of her way to make sure I didn't work near Eric let alone have the chance to talk to him. Jealous?

Finally, one Sunday (when Latisha wasn't working) he talked to me. He asked me how my day was going.. I played along and had small talk with him. He said he wanted to talk to me after work... alone. Yippie I thought! Now is my chance. We decided to meet upstairs in the conference room so we would have privacy and no one would see us together. He sat me down and said he knows I am the one placing notes in his pocket and that Latisha found some of them and it's making her upset, but he said he didn't know who they were from... he lied for me.. awww... BUT he appreciates it and he isn't going to break up with her for me.... and he hopes I understand.. but if he was single he would certainly take me out. I was so confused. I didn't press it... this guy is nuts... hello... I considered myself a way better catch than her. Ok I told him and said I had to leave... he said wait I want to give you a hug.. ok I thought.. he hugged me really tight and smelt my hair (he still to this day denies it). I melted. That was it.. I was head over heels. Sorry Latisha.. I'm going to steal your man.

I went home that night and developed a plan. I would kill her with niceness... try to be her friend.. piss her off so much that Eric would see just how crazy she was. It worked. She got so mad at me for being "nice" that she blew up at me in the middle of the store. It was so bad the supervisor told her to leave. I just stood there and took it. I didn't scream back or call her names.. I didn't say a word. I was questioned about it and just told the truth.. she is mad at me for talking to Eric. I was asking about the sales ad this week and she just lost it. It was the truth though... hehehe.

Not long after that I hear that he and Latisha broke up... it was around Valentine's Day. Then not long after that Latisha go fired for stealing... tough break... I swear I had nothing to do with that. Eric was all mine.

I waited for him to approach me but he never did. I asked his friend Jason about it and he said that Eric needs his space and he isn't ready for a relationship at this time. Whatever I said. I did everything I could to give him his space but still show that I was interested. All of March went buy and I almost gave up. It was April 6, 2002 and I was asked by another co-worker if I wanted to meet up with a "bunch" of people at the local batting cages tonight. He said Eric would be there... umm.. well you know I went. I was so freaking nervous. I skipped swim practice that night so I could go. I picked out a tight white long sleeved shirt and a push up bra and tight jeans to wear. I looked good if I say so myself. I was on my way there when I looked behind me and there he was... He was in the car right behind me. My heart stopped. He was actually going! I called my mom and screamed that he was there and I was going to talk to him. She just said to be home by 11 pm.

I pull up and waited a bit. I didn't want to go in without making an entrance, right? However he decided to pull up right next to me. He knew my car I know that so he was playing something. He got out and waited for me. I opened my door and said "hi!" He said hi too and that it was nice to see me. I chatted a bit and asked who else was coming. He said he wasn't sure but said that a bunch of people would be here.. odd I thought that is what I was told. We go inside and there wasn't anyone there besides the guy that told us about the get together. He "claimed" that everyone else bailed but glad we showed up because he didn't want to hit baseballs by himself. Right.. I was thinking but THANK YOU TOMMY for setting us up! Eric was a little surprised too but went with it (or so I thought). He was totally checking me out all night. It was getting to be about 9 pm when Tommy "forgot" he had to get something at work before heading home and wanted Eric to drop him off since his ride doesn't know about it. I was so bummed. Eric said fine, but asked me to follow because he wanted to see a movie or something before going home. Sweet I thought and was happy to follow. He dropped Tommy off and told me to follow him to the theater in town. We met at the mall and walked in and checked movie times. The only thing showing at the time was Ice Age. He bought my ticket and we went in. It was so weird. I had never really talked to this guy before but some how I felt this connection with him. It wasn't long before we were holding hands like school kids but it felt so good. I felt sparks with him. After the movie he said he didn't want the night to end and asked if I was hungry. It was 10:30 pm and I had to be home by 11 pm. I said yes, where do you want to go? He offered Denny's since many things weren't opened in Marion that late at night. Fine with me! I called my mom on the way there and begged for an extension on my curfew. I pulled the I'm 18 crap and she caved. I could stay out to midnight but I had to be home on time or my ass was toast. I put my phone on silent and went inside to meet him. We sat at the back corner of the restaurant. There wasn't many people in there. I forget what we ordered but I know ordered hot tea. I didn't seem like we were there that long. We just talked and talked about everything. We held hands, laughed, and just connected. Before too long he looked at his watch and said Holy crap my parents are going to kill me. It's 3 am! I looked like a ghost and said WHAT!?? Sure enough I looked at my cell phone, 15 missed calls all from my mom. Remember I turned it on silent? Holy shit I thought, I had to go! He paid the bill and walked me out. I was a little rushed but he slowed me down and said I want to see you again, tomorrow? I said yes with a huge smile and he gave me a hug (I wanted a kiss) but it was wonderful. I melted again. I drove home (only about 3 mins away) and walked in to find my pissed of mom sitting in her chair. She had that where in the world have you been and why didn't you call look on her face. Before she opened her mouth I said I was so sorry that I have never done this before and wasn't intending on doing it but mom I met the man I will marry tonight. I fell in love... She looked at me puzzled and smiled. She told me goto be and I better be lucky she wasn't going to tell my dad on me. I couldn't sleep a wink that night. Seriously, I met me soul mate.

How it started

It started with roses. A dozen to be exact. I was entering my senior year in high school and it was the 2nd week of school. I was in a really boring History class when my name was called to the office. I was a very good student so everyone looked at me "Awww Elizabeth is in trouble!"... Stupid kid stuff. So I went after class and spoke to the office staff. She said I had flowers delivered. What I said? There they were, the most beautiful dozen roses I have ever seen. At first I made sure the name was right, there were three other Elizabeth's in the the school after all.. but sure enough they said my name. I opened the card and it had a beautiful poem about how lovely I was. There was no signature, just "Your Secret Admirer". I was dumbfounded. Ok, so I had a boyfriend but we "just" got back together from a 4 month break up and he was not the type of person to say I was lovely or send me flowers for the matter. I knew they weren't from him. I left my flowers there to be picked up at the end of the school day. I had my sister Lori hold them while I drove home for school. She was so jealous but wanted to know who they came from, as did I. I went home and my mom said "WOW who are those from, Ben?"

note: That was my boyfriend at the time

I told her I wasn't sure. I called him and played cool... I asked him about his day and waited for him to suggest that I might have gotten something today. No such luck. I left it at that because he was very jealous of anything. Keep in mind I didn't find myself to be an attractive person so I was completely dumbfounded who would be sending me flowers. Maybe someone I dated briefly over the summer?

Well the flowers looked great on my mom's kitchen table. The week went on and nothing on the secret admirer. I actually forgot about it until the next Monday. Again, it was History class and my name was called to the office. Weird I thought but went again. There they were, another dozen roses but this time they had purple flowers in them too. Very pretty. I didn't even ask if they were mine, I just assumed and opened the card with my name on it. Another poem about me. Very sweet, kinda gave me chills. No signature at all this time. Bizarre. The office staffed looked at me and asked who they were from, the same person as last week? I told them I wasn't sure because there wasn't a name on it. How romantic one of them said. I agree.. but still puzzled me.

This time my dad said something. He wanted to know who this boy was and he wanted to know now. I lied and said they were from Ben.. he hated Ben and just left it at that. So now I had two dozen roses on my mom's kitchen table and they looked wonderful. I felt so good about myself but couldn't say why... I didn't DO anything to get these flowers.. but every girl loves flowers and this was the first time in my life someone had sent me flowers.

I made another call to Ben and asked him the same questions as last week and still nothing. At least now I knew they weren't from him because he couldn't keep a secret and his dumb ass didn't have a j-o-b so how did he pay for some very expensive arrangements?

I told my mom the truth and she became worried. She said what if someone is "stalking" you? A child predator? Please I am 17 about to turn 18 in a few months, I think I can handle it (youth talking). She called the flower shop where the roses came from and they said "Sorry, this account is coded confidential and we can't release any names, beside this person paid in cash and we don't have a record". Pissed off my mom left it at that.

So the next week comes and guess what? I get called to the office again during History. This time the girls in my class asked if I am sending the flowers to myself. What?! Girls are so caddy. Right I am going to spend $60-$100 on weekly flower arrangements. I have a job at the local Meijer but I'm just a bagger and make minimum wage. I have a car payment and cell phone so my paychecks go towards that. I don't have much spending money and if I did I would buy highlights or something needed than flowers!

I get to the office and there they were. This time white and red roses. So pretty. No note this time, just my name on the front of the card. Did he forget?

I get home that night and my mom is furious. She called the flower shop again and demanded a name. She spoke to 3 different people, threatened to come down there before someone would give her a name. Turns out this person placed the order this morning and he used a credit card. His name is Eric Stevens. My mom gets off the phone and asks me who Eric Stevens is. I looked puzzled and said I didn't know. Honestly, I had no clue. Still puzzled, I went to work that night and tried to find out if anyone knew who this person was.

I chatted up my supervisor and asked if there was anyone that worked in our department named Eric Stevens. She said yes, and I must have gotten white because she asked me why and what's wrong? I said nothing, but asked if she could point out who this person was. She did and there he was. Standing on lane 19 was a gorgeous dark haired, dark eyed man. No way I said, and she said yeah... that's him.. and why do you want to know? What's going on? I got pink and told her the story... she was smitten just as much as I was. I swore her to keep her mouth shut.. I didn't want the whole department finding out... rumors spread like wildfire there and I still had a boyfriend, remember?

I went home and told my mom that I found out who Eric was. She wanted to know who this boy was so she made me point him out when we went grocery shopping. She was impressed to say the least (I told you he is gorgeous). She seemed ok with the idea but wanted to make sure he wasn't some crazy or something. Who sends flowers to a girl he doesn't even know? Any why?

Like I said, I was a bag girl. It sucked but I did get paid for it. I was working a Saturday night and was assigned to Eric's lane. At first I was scared, what would he say to me. Honestly, I don't ever remember talking to him before. In fact, he didn't talk to anyone there... But I thought that he doesn't know that I know so it should be fine, actually, it might be interesting to see what he does.

We worked together for a few hours. He didn't say much and when he did it was work related. But I did notice he looked at me a lot. Not like looking at someone just to look, but he looked into me and tried to study me. Kinda like he was undressing me with his eyes (later I find out that is what he was doing). So a pretty boring night to say the least. But I did find out that he had perfect teeth, a nice butt, and he was a pre-med student at OSU. SCORE.

That Monday came and I sat in History class waiting on my name to be called. It never was. I was kinda bummed but thought well maybe the flower truck was running late? I waited all day and nothing. My sister met me by my locker as always and was sad to see I didn't have any flowers. Maybe he ran out of money she said, or maybe he forgot it was Monday, no.. the flower shop goofed and they will come tomorrow. Right I thought, I knew what is was... he "met" me on Saturday and he decided I wasn't the catch he thought I was and decided to drop it. Ugh.. Wait, what am I doing... I have a boyfriend... duh...

So my week went on crazy busy like all. I was a full time student, swam for the school swim team, and had a part-time job. I basically didn't get anytime for myself so my weeks went pretty fast. It was a Thursday, I believe... I was trained on register for the first time since I would be turning 18 soon. It was pretty neat and I was excited that I wouldn't have to push carts in the snow this year. Another week went by. It was a Saturday night again and I was getting ready to leave. I was on my way to the cash office to drop off my til when I ran into Eric coming out of the office. He stopped, looked at me, smiled and asked if I liked the flowers. I almost dropped my til! I said... uhhh yea.. I love them... thank you... and I ran inside the office. I was so embarrassed. I couldn't even talk to him. He walked away and that was the last time I saw him or talked to him for the next month.