Who is like God?
God is my strength.
God has healed.
Before we were even married, the Mrs. and I had chosen these three names for our first three boys. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, the three Archangels named in the bible. On the first of the month, our third "angel boy" was born, a healthy and beautiful 7lbs 12.5oz, 20.5in. Mama and baby are doing great, and we couldn't be happier. But our little Raphael has a birth story he will never live down!
To start with, at first we thought he was Emma-Jean.
We were open to but nervous about getting pregnant, given our recent losses of Gabriel and Perfectus. Not trying, but not not trying (and a word to the wise, don't assume either about a couple after a loss). That being said, we were excited. Nervouscited, as Pinkie Pie would say, but really doing our best to follow Eve's godmother's advice and just enjoy this little one as much as we could, knowing that there was no point in worrying - it would just make us sad now, and wouldn't stop any sadness that might come.
We had chosen the name Emma Jean for our next girl sometime after we had Eve (it doesn't hurt to be prepared!), and so when the 20 week ultrasound showed us a girl, we started getting more and more excited with Eve and Michael about their new little sister!
"Emma Jean, Emma Jean!" they would chant, Michael often pronouncing, "No! MY Emma Jean!" They said her name so much that "Emma Jean" became "Emma-Jean," and it was clear we needed a new middle name. When we asked the kids what her middle name should be, Eve asked, "Who's the saint who loves all the babies?"
"You mean Saint Gianna?"
And so our little girl had a name. The wait for Emma-Jean Gianna continued.
Unfortunately, with "morning sickness" that neither limited itself to the morning, nor abated after 1st trimester, Erin was pretty much stuck at home. Going out into the cold air caused her to start gagging, and that was on top of the existing nausea. To pile on (because, why not? I guess?), Erin was facing pre-natal depression. Not her first run in, but also tougher given that she was unable to do the one thing that helps her depression the most - get out of the house.
This was shaping up to be a tough pregnancy to be happy in. Happy for, yes, but we could not wait for the end.
The weather began to change, going outside no longer triggered the gag response as it once had. After a round of work from home days, I got permission from my supervisors to just work from home until the baby got here (because I work for the best company ever!), which eased Erin's stress immeasurably.
Finally, the end of May and the due date of May 28th approached. Eve and Michael had both come a day early, Gabriel 3 days. We were ready for Emma-Jean to arrive anytime after full term, though the expectation began in earnest on the 21st, a week before her due date.
Then Friday the 27th, the last day of school for Eve and Michael, the day before her due date, surely she'll come today?
Then Saturday the 28th. Great day. Start of the weekend. Where is that baby?! Erin is now officially more pregnant than she ever has been.
Then Sunday the 29th, hanging out with Emma-Jeans godparents-to-be. Where is she? Now would be perfect!
Then Monday, and Tuesday, and everything is fine, we're just... Child, get here already!
Finally contractions start in earnest on the morning of Wednesday, June 1st. Aha, Emma just had to have her own month. Fine. We call Doc, and he says that given Gabriel came in 4 hours, it wouldn't hurt for us to head to the hospital and labor there for a little while. So we get the kids to a friend's house, and then get ourselves to the hospital around 8:30. Let's have a baby!
Things are progressing, but not nearly as fast as we expected. We've walked and walked and walked, and the contractions still aren't regular. In the middle of the afternoon Doc breaks her water the first time. Erin can feel a change, but there's not much water, and contractions aren't becoming regular. We walk.
Around 3, she and Doc remember that the ultrasound showed 2 bags of water. Of course. So he breaks her water for the second time. Awesome, water well and truly broken, contractions are getting more intense, but they're still not becoming regular. She bounces. We walk.
Around 5 the Doula looks at me and asks me when I'm going to go eat. "I... Uh... Wasn't?" We had just known this baby would be here "any minute," and I wasn't about to miss that! Neither Erin nor I had had anything to eat aside from a few snacks all day. The Doula assured us that nothing was happening for a while, and I went down to eat.
Because contractions aren't getting regular, Doc floats the "P" word - pitocin. Erin super doesn't want to, asks about eating. Doc is awesome and all about letting mamas labor how they want to, so food it is. Erin will eat and rest, Doc will go home to eat supper with his wife, and we'll reconvene later in the evening.
Of course as soon as doc left, contractions got more intense, and seemed to be setting up a little more regularly. Yes! Let's have a baby!
Around 9 o'clock, Erin starts feeling a lot of pressure, and has a contraction that won't let her move her left leg. The Doula and I help her back into the bed, and we get ready to start pushing. Doc checks her out, she's fully dilated, she feels like pushing, let's have a baby!
My poor wife. Half a dozen laboring positions and an hour later, and still no Emma-Jean! Every time she pushes, baby comes down, but every time she relaxes, baby goes back up. Doc brings up the possibility of a C-section. Emma-Jean isn't in distress, this is not an emergency, but mama and baby are tired, and if we have to go down that route, we want to make sure it's not an emergency. He suggests that we set a deadline, after which we'll prep for surgery if labor isn't working.
Erin decides that she wants an epidural. If she has to have a C-section, she'll need one anyway, and right now she just wants the pain to stop. They call in the anesthesiologist, who has been at the downtown location and so is about half an hour away. We call our pastor, because if Erin is going into surgery she absolutely wants the sacrament of the sick.
Father gets there around 10:15, and anoints her. The anesthesiologist gets there shortly after and sets up her kit. Erin had an epidural with both Eve and Michael, so no sweat. Not the most comfortable of things, but not particularly painful, and relatively quick. Except for whatever reason, the anesthesiologist doesn't get it until the 4th attempt, having to use the local numbing agent multiple times, and making Erin breathe through not 1 but 8 separate contractions while attempting to hold a very uncomfortable position.
Sitting on the edge of the bed she is just crying. Even this won't go right! And at this point, Emma won't be born until the 2nd, which means we'll miss Eve's dance recital. Everything is going wrong!
Finally the epidural is in, at about 11 o'clock. She lies down on the bed, and prepares to labor. Our deadline is 1am, June 2nd - after that we're going to have this baby by C-section. Doc takes off his gown and mask, he's going to go catch a few hours of sleep; he's been hanging out with us all day.
Except the epidural isn't working. There's no warmth, no numbness, she can still feel her legs. This epidural isn't working! Nothing is going right!
As Doc starts to head out the door, something amazing happens. "Um... Doc...? My body's pushing, and I can't stop it... It's not me, my body's pushing!"
The Doula and I are ripping off her blankets as Doc comes back to the bed. "Yep, the baby's coming!"
One push later at 11:16 pm, the epidural still ineffective, our newest little baby lies on the bed, screaming while the nurses suction and clean and prepare to cut the umbilical cord. "What's the name?" asks one of the nurses.
"Are you sure?" she asks.
Well... I hadn't looked, Doc hadn't looked. We knew it was a girl. Multiple ultrasounds. Both Doc and his resident in training. It's a girl.
Except... "Oh... Nope, his name is Raphael Martin."
That's right, a boy. By that point, we weren't even shocked. Surprised, yes, but everything else had gone sideways, of course he's a boy.
Doc calls his wife, because she is awesome, and we want Doc to keep her appraised! While he's on the phone, Mrs. Doc informs him that she had awoken from sleep at 11:00, lit a candle, knelt down, and prayed.
Jesus, Erin needs to have this baby now, and in one push.
15 minutes before the push, 16 minutes before the birth.
On top of that, when we called the godparents to let them know they had a godson and not a goddaughter, we were telling a room of friends who had also been praying for us! They had been out with mutual friends of ours, and round about 11 one of them said, "Hey, we should pray for the Evanses!" Because of course that's who our friends are. The incredulous shouts of joy on the other end of the line were, in a word, awesome.
So here's what's really cool. We were super excited for Emma-Jean, and at the same time I had really been hoping for a boy to "complete the set," as it were. Raphael is our "rainbow baby," a child born after loss, in our case Gabriel and Perfectus. His name means "God has healed," and while it was chosen before we were even married, we had no idea just how meaningful that name would be. God has healed.
Just as we have been saved, we are being saved, and we hope to be saved, after the losses of Angelica, Jeremy, Gabriel, and Perfectus we have been healed, we are being healed, and we hope to be healed.
I saw a post a few days ago which really captures what Raphael's birth has felt like.
God walks into your soul with silent steps.
God comes to you more than you go to Him.
Never will His coming be what you expect, and yet never will it disappoint.
The more you respond to His gentle pressure, the greater will be your freedom.
Raphael, you are not what I expected, but welcome to the family just the same.