We kept it a secret dream for a while. We spoke in hushed tones, usually at night, about whether we really believed it could be true. We continually encouraged each other, "Don't get your hopes up." Both of our hopes were up but we wouldn't admit it out loud for fear.
We slowly allowed people to be a part of this little glimmer of hope that we might actually have a biological child. The whole thing was...a little uncomfortable. In some ways we had given up hope. Not in a we-might-as-well-stop-swimming-and-drown-in-our-own-sorrow kind of given up, but more of a we-always-wanted-to-adopt-and-this-is-obviously-God's-plan-for-us kind of way. I know this may strike some of you as odd, but we were completely fine with this. As a matter of fact we had somehow put away all of the thoughts of raising a newborn. It was no longer of any appeal really. We dove into learning about raising adopted children and all of the exciting things that go along with that process.
As the baby grew inside of Jessica the idea of a baby grew on me. As I watched her tummy expand so magnificently so did my desire for this unborn child. The whole concept of us actually having a tiny baby was just starting to set in. And we scheduled a birthing class to begin on August 21st which we never attended.
After Wednesday night youth service (8/17) Jessica found me talking with some friends and sternly said, "I need to talk to you." Great, what have I done this time? Did I not put the trash out or not put the milk up? Maybe some teen has a bone sticking out of his flesh after an accident in the gym. I followed her into my office where she was answering a call that I would soon figure out was her doctor.
She was having some contractions and was worried but they eased her mind, told her to go home and make an appointment in the morning. At the appointment they did a test that confirmed she was at risk for early labor and was told she was to be on a mild bed rest until further notice. She called her mom and cancelled the shower she was to have in West Monroe because she didn't want to risk the long travel. She asked if they bring down the baby stuff that Meredith (Jessica's sister) was providing. That Thursday night Jessica's dad awoke around midnight with a feeling that they needed to bring all that baby stuff down now. Her parents got up the next morning, made arrangements, and started the trek to Austin with baby supplies in tow.
Friday evening we called some good friends to see if they wanted to bring over dinner and hang out with us. They were busy. Fifteen minutes later Jessica's water broke.
"Uh, my water just broke! Bring me something." I didn't know what to bring. A bucket? A shop-vac? Oh. A towel. Right. Of course. Check. As I ran the towel to her, "Do you want me to call 911?!?" Stop laughing. I didn't know. But now I do. We loaded up and headed to the hospital. Jessica's parents were already half way to Austin.
Contractions were 3-5 minutes apart for a while. When we arrived the nurse reassured us, "They were able to hold me off for four weeks. Maybe you'll be the same." Soon we were hearing, "If we can just hold her off 48 hours..." Eleven hours later Evie was born. They tried to slow the process but the train had already left the station and there was no going back.
At about 9:30pm Jessica was in a great deal of pain and received a gift called an epidural from an angel she calls "Godsend". Her parents arrived around 10:30pm. Now that she was somewhat comfortable we had some sweet fellowship and maybe a quick nap.
We had a visit by a sweet NICU nurse who's job it is to paint a bleak picture of all of the worst case scenarios. She did good. This is the only time during the whole process where I had to take a seat and coach myself in breathing exercises that I was yet learn. She said to expect your child to be in NICU until her due date, October 13th. She talked about ventilators and really tiny babies. IVs in the head and lines into stomachs. Feeding tubes and various sicknesses. Good times.
Around 4am Jessica and I were taken into the delivery room. For an hour Jessica worked to push out our child and I worked to not faint. We both succeeded. At 5:03am we welcomed our daughter they said we'd never have into the world.
Evangeline Karis Walling was born at 32 weeks weighing 4lbs.4oz. and 17 inches long. She came out screaming and crying with no need of a ventilator. After 15 hours they removed the CPAP and replaced it with a small oxygen tube. And a short time later removed even that. She is so healthy and strong and beautiful.
Evangeline Karis. Her first name is a derivative of the Greek word 'euangelion', which is where we get the word 'evangelize'; to share the Good Message of Jesus Christ. And Karis is a transliteration of 'charis', or grace. All her days she will be a testimony of the good news of God's immense grace. May He be praised. He gives good gifts.
Thanks for reading.