white buds 2


It was a late night in early September, when my brother called me. Evan and I had just pulled into our parking space in our Maryland apartment. “Hi,” my brother said. Then there was a pause and some random muffled sound. He was trying to get the speaker phone to work. Evan looked at me quizzically because I usually called Jon to catch up.

Jon calls me with purpose.


fall lake


I shrugged my shoulders at Evan and whispered, “I think he’s getting Candace on the phone.” Evan’s eyebrows went up. We got out of the car and made our way up the stairs. I kept hearing the muffled sounds of preparations. I waited. It seemed like something big. Could it be the big thing?

Finally, both were on the phone. “We’re going to have a baby!” they said together in the happy, surprised voice of the unexpected.


fall birch


We waited the nine months together. Evan and I waited in Maryland, through his student teaching semester, preparing to move, waiting for certifications, packing trucks, saying goodbye, unpacking the essential boxes, learning to be in Milwaukee.


snowy path


They waited too. They waited through grueling morning sickness that corresponded perfectly with Candace starting a new job at Jon’s office. They waited through a Wisconsin polar vortex winter, huddled with two puppies and a rounding belly. They agreed to welcome even more family into their home—to move their furniture for a sister and a daughter at the same time.


frozen lake waiting


Spring comes slowly to Wisconsin, and with the rising temperatures there were the beginnings of concerns. The baby is small. The weeks pass with extra ultrasounds and the continued pronouncement: she is small. What does that mean? There is some concern that her growth may be restricted. So at exactly 38 weeks, they are going to induce labor.




Suddenly the long waiting, the waiting in weeks and baby-shower thank you cards is over. Now a new waiting, a waiting in minutes and pain, begins. They find out on a Wednesday about the inducement, so Thursday is the last day of work for now. Friday they go into the hospital, my parents drive down from Northern Wisconsin, and we drive out to the Lake House to meet my parents so we can all wait together.


spiral vines and blue sky


We had just all been together for Easter only three weeks ago, to wait on that weekend for new life. Here we are again: all four of us and a gaggle of dogs, waiting. Each email vibration on a cell phone causes a heart rate spike. But there is no word yet. On Friday night each passing hour means that they pass the first test and get to try to have the baby without a c-section. Friday night comes and goes; we sleep lightly. We wake and think of the work Candace and Jon are doing and the pain Candace might be in.

We pray for peace and protection. We try to wait patiently.


forest and green leaves 3


It is Saturday morning. Jon’s birthday. He is 27 now. We think today will be the day. His daughter will be the great birthday present. My parents and the two of us go for a hike. The leaves are peaking out in the forest. We try to talk about other things, to not just wonder about what is happening. It is a long six mile hike, but with cell phones, we know that we haven’t missed a thing.

We hope.


three white flowers


Finally in the afternoon, sitting out on the sun-soaked porch, we text Jon. We tell him about the hike. He says that sounded nice and he loves us. We take that to mean they are well and doing what they can.

We resume waiting.


transparent leave 2


That night we sleep better, but Jon and Candace don’t sleep much at all. We find out later that it had taken rounds of different approaches to get her into active labor. But the baby, although she’s small, doesn’t seem fazed at all by the fits and starts of contractions, her heart rate is steady and strong. They keep working to open her way out into the world.


white buds


It is Sunday morning, Mother’s Day. We are still waiting. We get ready for church. But as we’re walking out the door, we get the call. Mom gets the call; it is Mother’s Day. She listens as we all watch her, mouth open wide in happiness. This time, Jon hears the random muffled sounds as she puts him on speaker phone.


little white flower


We hear Jon’s tired but elated voice: She’s here. We can come and meet her. No c-section. No tearing even. Candace is doing great. Her name is Anika Eve, 5 pounds and 7 ounces, born at 7:08 am on Sunday morning on Mother’s Day, just as Jon himself had been 27 years and one day before.




We don’t make it to church. We go to the grocery store and pick up fruit and cheese and sandwich supplies. We stop at Chipotle to bring the new parents burritos. We can do so little, so we bring a lot of food. We sign into the hospital to meet the newest member of our family. Everyone is tired — Jon, Candace, and Anika. But they are all content, if a little hungry. We take pictures and hear about their waiting and working the past 48 hours.


arms holding baby


I have never held a baby only 5 hours out in the world. She is so small and beautiful. How can everyone start out like this? So strong and yet so fragile? We are all breathing deeper and deeper now that she is here. The nervous excitement and worry ebbs away as we each hold the serene little one who sleeps undisturbed. The newly minted grandpa and grandma and aunt and uncle all take their turns, and then hand her back to mother and father. We all have new titles to go with our new love for the long awaited little Anika Eve Rogers.


aunt and uncle


What are your stories of waiting for miracles?


8 Responses to My Brother’s Daughter: A Birth Story

  1. What a beautiful, beautiful Mother’s Day gift! My boy (eleven today!) sometimes has his birthday on Mother’s Day. That’s always extra special.

    Congrats to your whole family.

    • Amy Rogers Hays says:

      Thanks Caroline! Guess what my mom was doing at 7:08, when she was becoming a grandma? Reading the last part of MAY B! I lent her my copy and she was finishing it up that morning. She said she cried and it was beautiful. Not the first time she did that that day 🙂

  2. Karen Punches says:

    Hi Amy, congratulations on the birth of your niece, I guess that makes her my great niece. how wonderful! she looks beautiful and I love the name Anika. Blessings on you and Evan as you settle into your new life in Milwaukee. All your nanny experience will be coming in very handy right about now. Much love, aunt Karen

    • Amy Rogers Hays says:

      Thanks Aunt Karen! Great Aunt Karen! We are all quite smitten! Evan and I are out at the Lake House now letting the new little family get settled a bit, but then I hope that we can put all that nannying practice to work and lend a helping hand. Mom and Dad say that when Aunt Emma and Heather lived with them when Heather was an infant it was a really great time, so I’m hoping that tradition continues! Love from Wisconsin, Amy.

  3. Kellie says:

    This is beautiful!!

    • Amy Rogers Hays says:

      Thanks Kellie! I’m so looking forward to be an aunt to that little peanut! So nice to meet you and your little ones a few weeks ago!

  4. Deb Rogers says:

    Amee – How beautifully written and illustrated with the gorgeous photos. Thank you for sharing your memories of the joyous event of Anika’s birth. Also, thank you for the wonderful reflection on Pascha and your journey of faith with our family. I am looking forward to future postings! Love, Mom

    • Amy Rogers Hays says:

      Thanks mama, it was a pretty cool three weeks! So fun to be close to you and Dad to share in the waiting and the wonder. Love you!

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