She got her name while we were alone together after delivery. Despite many car rides and conversations, we had not decided on any baby names, particularly girl names. We were stuck; even throughout the day on Sunday when we knew a baby was coming soon!
Nick thought the unique sunset on Saturday night was our baby saying goodbye, the visible rays held a lot of meaning for us. We googled and scanned the books for names meaning sunset, or sunshine, or ray of sunshine, but none of them fit (and some were just weird). I don’t know where it came from, but I said, “Let’s name her Rayna… spelled R-A-Y-n-a, like a ray of sunshine.” Later on, our brother-in-law looked up the meaning of Rayna, “song of the Lord,” which is perfect. We wanted something to honor the sunset and our faith and the music that played when her body left mine. We were also glad it didn’t mean something terrible or stupid, as it hadn’t even occurred to us to check.
We already decided on the name of the town we were in as a middle name, due to the absolutely remarkable support and many small world connections we encountered at every turn from Saturday night onward. Little touches throughout our time in the hospital and the days following, too many to remember, made it clear that if our little girl had to die, then we were in the most supportive place for this worst thing to happen. (And really, I’ve received remarkable support from that community my entire life.) We thought being away from the city would be a bad thing, but being in this small town offered us the gift of community we wouldn’t have found at a downtown city hospital.
Nick’s note: This time alone with her was also our first time meeting her. We looked over every part of her body and enjoyed how beautiful she was. She looked at peace. And holding her meant the world to us.
We were able to spend 6 very full hours with her. After our time alone together, we invited our families to meet Rayna. Nick went to share the news of our new baby the way any daddy would with a new baby. He walked into the waiting room and said, “It’s a girl! Her name is Rayna.”
Everyone entered slowly, tentatively, not knowing what state they would find us in. Yet, much of what I remember from that time is the pride of being a mommy. I’m sure this pride and joy was mostly mommy hormones, but I am thankful for them. I am thankful our 6 hours were mostly filled with smiles. Certainly there were tears when our parents saw her beautiful tiny face, watching their own children begin to grieve the death of their grandbaby, but mostly I remember the happiness of our day together.
A local photographer, recently connected with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, came to take professional photos of our family. The epidural was turned off and removed, but I still couldn’t feel my legs well enough to get out of bed. After a few photos of the three of us, Rayna was wrapped in snuggly pink blankets and taken to the other side of the hospital room and placed in a little bed, a place with natural light peeking out from behind the clouds and into our room. I distinctly remember looking on with so much love for my baby and my spouse as he watched over our little girl while she was being photographed. He tenderly dressed her in a gorgeous white and sparkly dress and knit cap while keeping careful and close watch when anyone else would touch her. He was and is the outstanding daddy I knew he would be. My understanding is this was our photographer’s first time taking photos for NILMDTS, and she did a beautiful job capturing our family; these photos are among our most treasured memories.
We were also honored to have a local pastor lead us in a small ceremony for our baby. He prayed with us, read Psalm 139, and dedicated her to our Lord. It was a blur, but I know Rayna’s grandparents and great-grandparents were able to share in this special time, too. And, we couldn’t help but laugh when we learned this pastor once lived near Nick’s hometown and knew Nick’s high school math teacher; another small-world connection in this small town, an eight hour drive from Nick’s small hometown.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
– Psalm 139:13-14 –