Our Evangeline, A Birth Story

It’s probably a little premature for me to try to write about this… I’m 3/4 of the way through the first sentence and the tears are streaming. The last week has been full of changes and emotions; I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and overwhelmed with four sensitive, tender little hearts to protect.

The 39th week of pregnancy was practically as noncommittal as the weather. September means summer in Santa Cruz, though the last week or two have been cold and foggy for much of the days with a sprinkling of sunshine here and there. The 9th month nearly did me in; I was sick and tired of feeling emotionally and physically drained, and I was so ready to get back to my kids to be mother I want to be for them. After weeks of contractions and exhausting teasing, I went in for a mild acupuncture treatment on Tuesday afternoon with a pregnancy specialist. She hooked me up to teeny jumper cables attached to needles that were placed in my head, hands, legs and feet. I went home and had a fairly typical evening of persistent contractions and little sleep, though waking up intermittently to a few that were much more painful. I asked Justin in the morning to take the day off of work and come with me to visit my obstetrician. “Two cm dilated, sweetie.” She reported. “I’m so sorry, but you probably won’t deliver until next week”. I left her office feeling annoyed and frustrated, and on top of that embarrassed I had asked Justin to cancel his patients. The day progressed though, and so did labor. This is the part where I wonder how I’m not more in tune with my body to know what’s really going on, but I cruised along and avoided any decisions until afternoon. By 1pm, I called her back to let her know I was going into the hospital-the contractions were the kind that you don’t try to talk through, you just manage until they stop throttling. We threw my half-packed hospital bag into the car at around 6pm, and which point I was giving it a 50/50 chance of delivering in car during the 15 minute drive to the maternity center. I spent about 20 minutes in the warm water in the bathtub, sufficient time to effectively go from 5cm to 10. I pushed hard one time, and our sweet, beautiful, vocal baby girl came into the world.


“I’ve seen you before”

Evangeline Lauren Shyba was born on Wednesday, September 3rd at 7:32pm weighing 6lbs, 7oz.

By the grace of God and the universe and countless blessings, this tiny little being that I was holding was utterly perfect.

My goodess, I thought, you are so familiar. I’ve seen you before, three times exactly.


Evangeline is the spitting image of Jack, Zoe and Beau but nothing definitely like myself or Justin. I held her with Justin and cried, and ten minutes later my three babies, my mother and my sister came running into the room. The grandest celebration I will ever bear witness to; the love and wonder in their eyes, with nary a hint of confusion from Beau as I had slightly expected. I never expected my life to turn out this way. I would never have dared to dream that I’d be this complete.


The nurses and care that I received at Sutter Maternity Center was unparalleled. I held and nursed Evangeline for three hours until they took her to be bathed and foot printed, and even then she never left my side for one second. The nurses rarely came into the room, and when they did they were only completely gentle, kind, informative and helpful. I couldn’t possibly describe how it felt to have a labor and birth that was nearly unassisted, with zero intervention. It was natural and beautiful and I am so thankful to have had this experience.

We left the hospital on Friday, on a train of emotions as the timing was such that we could greet Beau on the first day of being on his own at preschool. The days since have been lovely and challenging; Zoe couldn’t be happier, she is positively beside herself with the joy of having a baby sister in her life (the pictures say it all, though can’t even remotely accurately portray her enthusiasm). Jack is taking it all in stride, as he does with most things. He’s inquisitive though, and remarked that she smells like bread while holding her the first time. Beau is all over the place. He is needy for me, but he completely adores Evangeline and asks to hold her whenever he can. I’ve detected a bit of jealousy-asking when she will go back “home” to the “hopspitlle”, but I think I’m the one having the hardest time transitioning. I am missing them all more than ever.


Right now I’m really focusing on my own physical and mental health more than I’ve ever attempted with my last three babies. I’m sleeping when I can, eating as well as possible, and taking a fist full of vitamins every day. I might add how regretful I am for not turning towards holistic medicine before now… I feel better than I ever have. Especially postpartum.
Our families have been incredibly helpful, making dinners and doing fun things with the kids while I try to find my groove with breastfeeding and this new, precious little life. Theo has been nothing but gentle, sweet and inquisitive with Evvie. He absolutely knows she is a precious new being to add to our tribe and has welcomed her as such. We have a long road ahead of us with adjustments but I’m certain we have the tools to manage; We have each other.


The view outside the room where Evvie was born boasted a gorgeous green hill and four perfectly placed palm trees. The name Evangeline means bearer of good news, and she was named after my great aunt Evangeli. It’s no coincidence that the day we brought her home, the sun came out and has been shining ever since.

I’m a believer.

We are so full. Complete. Grateful.

Join the Conversation


  • so exciting to finally read about it! congrats to you and your husband! you have a truly beautiful family.

  • Congratulations! Evangeline is beautiful, and I’m so glad everything went so well for the birth and the kids adjusting so far. Those pics here and on IG of the baby in all her legs and arms moving are great. I think in general in America we take healthy babies for granted, so I just want to praise God for another healthy child for your beautiful family. Thank you for sharing your story with us. 🙂

  • She was born on my 67th birthday!!!

  • She was born on my 67th birthday!

  • So beautiful Jess, every bit of it. Enjoy this precious time!! xo

  • What an amazing gift! I’ve loved being able to get a peek into the life of you and your sweet family and I can’t wait as new developments unfold with this beautiful new addition!

  • This made me tear up a lot! I couldn’t be happier for you, my sweet friend. All the love in the world to your beautiful family. She’s so precious and her lips are identical to yours!

  • Your pictures always make me smile…but these pics of Evangeline’s grand entrance into the world were so sweet, heartfelt, and honest. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful family–can’t wait to start one of my own! 🙂

  • Such a beautiful story. I remember riding to the maternity center in labor with my third, coincidentally listening to Death Cab for Cutie sing “When Soul meets Body”, crying and trying not to have the baby in the car. It was hard knowing it was the last ride as a family of 4, even though I was so excited to meet our baby. It is always such an adjustment, but one that, once completed, we can’t imagine how it was before. I’m so, so happy for you and yours.:) Cheers!

  • Loved reading this, Jess. She is so beautiful. We are so happy for your family. Thinking of you during this special time. xoxo

  • Thank you for sharing your family and their journey with us. It is a blessing. Congratulations on the birth of Evvie!

  • Thank you for the post; the pix are beautiful. Thank you more for the love that you lavish on your family. That kind of love can only lead to a wonderful foundation for your children as they try to find their way in this crazy world. I hope that you receive it all back at least 10-fold.

  • Beautiful!! Congratulations! What kind of car seat is that? Also, what are you taking? (the postpartum holistic medicine you mentioned)

  • This post was absolutely beautiful. Congrats to your whole family! You can really see in the pictures how full of love your children are.

  • Congratulations and thank you for sharing your beautiful story. I had both of my girls at Sutter Maternity Center in Santa Cruz and I completely agree. It truly is an amazing place with wonderful care!

  • Congratulations! You have such a beautif family 🙂
    I am curious what kind of holistic medicine/vitamins you are taking. Would you mind sharing? Thanks so much!

  • Your story is beautiful and thank you for sharing. I am also thrilled to hear more about Zoe and how she is with her sister. I know she was excited for her arrival and I was anxious to hear about her introduction to being a big sister to a little sister. You may think that we cannot truly see/feel Zoe’s excitement but your pictures have captured the high emotions quite nicely.

    Continued blessings upon your house, each and every living creatures, big and small.

  • I love reading birth stories. Congrats! She’s beautiful and I love the family photos you posted–such joy and wonder there! Adjusting to a new baby is such a roller coaster for the whole family.

  • The most beautiful text I’ve ever read. So sweet and full of love. I can feel it.

    I do not know you, but through your posts and actions I have learned to admire you and I feel so happy to see that you and your family is so happy. Your kids are amazing, I spend minutes admiring them; Theo is another kid in a puppy’s body: I can tell he is very wise and came to help you care for them.
    Everything feels so right about you and for some reason I feel great and at peace knowing this.

    I’m very excited with the possibility of seeing how your beautiful family will grow, the challenges and accomplishments you will have. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing all this love with us.

    May the Universe bless you, at all times.

  • Weeping like a baby over here. Evvie is beautiful…just like the rest of the family. Congratulations! Thrilled for all of you.

    And, Theo is magnificent!

  • What a beautiful story. A beautiful family. I love reading your posts and viewing your photos on FB and Instagram. Congratulations!

  • Oh, Jess. What a lovely post, and thank you for sharing it all. Lots of love to you all.

  • Thank you Evvie for coming into this world. It’s wonderful to have you here. Well done Jessica, you’re a role model for upcoming mothers, and new mothers. Thank you for writing and sharing your experiences so openly. Thank you for sharing your love. God bless you and your family. Xx

  • OooMyGoodness!! I’m sobbing. You and your husband have created such a beautiful family. I just admire you. Wishing you and yours all of the love and joy in the world.

  • Oh my, I have tears in my eyes. This is beautiful, congratulations! Not only on the birth of your new daughter, but for your whole family. x

  • Congratulations! What a beautiful addition to such a lovely family. Your joy really shines through.

  • So wonderful! I am crying happy tears for you and your family. I was so excited to find out the sex and even more excited when it was a girl! Can not wait to hear about this new little life. What a beautiful name and even more beautiful family. Thank you for sharing with us. Your pictures always brighten my day.

  • You have once again been so touched by your love and your willingness to share your beautiful family with us. The wonder and beauty of your new addition and her arrival is a gift. May health and happiness continue for all of you.

  • Love, love, love! What an amazing post and gorgeous family, makes me excited to start my own someday. Thanks for sharing!

  • I teared up when I saw that picture of you and jack looking at Evvie, sooo sweet! You are one blessed momma! Sleep when you can.

  • This was so beautiful on so many levels! Congratulations on being ‘complete’! Thanks for sharing this peek into your lives with us. Love all the photos as well!

  • You words take me back to the birth of my son, nearly 17 years ago. The exquisitely painful birth without drugs as he came into this world so eagerly. The joy and wonderment of his big sister as she climbed up on the hospital bed with us after preschool. It all comes rushing back with tears of happiness for you, knowing all the fantastic and amazing things that are coming your way.

  • While I’m sorry the week leading up was so difficult I love that you were able to go through labor seamlessly! She is all the way perfect and I can only imagine how full your heart is with such a beautiful family. CONGRATS!!

  • Your photos melt my heart – Congrats!

  • This is just so wonderful. Thanks for sharing. I am about to have my third baby this december and I’m a litttle nervous of how its going to be. So I love watching things unfold with you and your beautiful family.

  • Beautiful story 🙂 So jealous that you were able to give birth @ Sutter…they were full when I was in labor with my Lola & I had to go to Dominican! Booo 🙁 She is beautiful! Hoping you get lots of rest and the adjustment goes well.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your story and the photos! The emotion on your face is completely transcendent!!

  • Thank you for sharing your story and reminding me of how wonderful Sutter is. I too am a Santa Cruz Mom and had my son at Sutter, we had the same view 🙂 We are lucky to live here in this amazing town and blessed to be cared for by the wonderful staff at Sutter (like Maggie the amazing lactation expert). Thank you for sharing your beautiful family with us. I look forward to looking at Instagram every day.

  • What a treasure this is – every single word. I’m beyond thrilled for you. My heart is filled with love and happy for your family. Big, huge love to all of you.

  • Beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • I’m officially balling. Beautiful. Just beautiful.

  • Beyond moving. I am so incredibly happy for you and your family. Your words ooze love and so do your heartfelt images – what a gift it is to glimpse into such beauty.

  • Beautiful…beautiful…beautiful…

  • Thank you for sharing this beautiful story, it’s so nice to follow your family when my husband and will be planning our own soon!
    I just love that Beau thinks she will be going back but he looks as though he absolutely adores her the photos.

    Precious story, precious family. Congratulations.

    I hope you get the time to yourself that you deserve!

  • She is so beautiful and I thought the same thing when I first saw her – that she looks so much like your other children. That first picture of Zoe looking at her new sister with her little hands clasped together is the most precious thing I have ever seen. That Zoe is really something special!

  • What a wonderful post to read. Congratulations on your gorgeous new little girl. What a family you have and thanks so much for sharing your stories, its inspiring. Love from the UK x

  • A big congratulations and best wished from Switzerland! I am an ex-Santa Cruzer (UCSC alum) and I still consider it my spiritual home. Love following your inspiring blog.

  • Congratulations Jessica, Evangeline is beautiful, and I’m so glad everything went well with your delivery. The family likeness between your children is amazing. Its been such a joy sharing your experience. You tell your story so elequelently, and your photographs capture the moments perfectly. What a beautiful testimony to a modern family you have created. The glimpse of family life I see in your instagram pictures makes my day.
    Wishing you, Justin the children and of course Theo every happiness and all good things.
    With love from Western Australia xx

  • Oh my goodness – perfection. Congrats to you all!

  • Beautiful birth story and photos! Thank you for sharing with us. The pictures and your words made me cry. Gorgeous! Welcome little Evvie.

  • Congratulations and many blessings!

  • Congradulations! She is just as beautiful as your other precious children. I look forward to your posts on your new adventure. God Bless.

  • Congratulations! She is so beautiful!!! I love reading about your family, you are the cutest I’ve ever seen. And I am in love with the new babies name. Sending you much love during this time with the new babe. You are amazing!

  • Hi Jessica and family! What a beautiful story to share with us and bring us into the experience of Evvie’s birth! As always, the pictures of you and the family are wonderful and it is such a pleasure to be able to follow your “story”.
    Many blessings on all of you and much gratitude for your generosity of spirit!

  • Congratulations on your beautiful new addition. While I couldn’t be happier for you and your family, I’m especially happy for Zoe! Your birth story made me cry at work. Enjoy these new special moments with your family.

  • What a positive, happy and heart warming story to read on this day. You are a great mom and a wonderful writer…thanks for sharing.

  • p.s. congrats on the birth you wanted!

  • So beautiful and precious. I’m so happy for you!!


  • Congrats from Argentina!!! She is so beautiful!!!! And the pics are the cutest. Lots of kisses and good vibes.

  • Beautiful name and beautiful story! Thank you for sharing this. I’m not sure if you’ve mentioned this before, but I enjoy that you said you’re doing more “holistic” health now. Do you mind sharing what vitamins you’re taking? Doing my own research now on prenatals as we prepare to start a family. 🙂

  • What a lovely post. Thank you for sharing. Motherhood is the hardest, most amazing and awesome thing we ever do! Love you for sharing your life and your family with us. You guys are all so awesome. Remember…lover really does conquer all if you let it <3

  • Ugh, see, can’t even see straight through my teary eyes…please change that last sentence to “love” not “lover”.

  • Congratulations! Your sweet Evvie is so precious. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

  • Was so looking forward to this post and you did not let me down! Just beautiful. I am at work and couldn’t even answer the phone…all choked up and in awe of you and your beautiful family. Love Zoe’s face!! Take Care. And again thank you for sharing with all of us.

  • That picture of Zoe looking at her little sister is just priceless. Thank you for posting that.

  • thank you for the beautiful post.

  • you have to change About Jessica now ->mother to four 😉

  • So very beautiful! Stay well and take care of yourself!

  • Congratulations – she is beautiful as are your other children. All your photos are beautiful, and your mom and Zoe are one face – it is quite incredible

  • And yet again you’ve captured each child, each adult’s relationship with this new baby…. Jacks’ serious reflection on this new infant (I remember being 8 with a new baby sister), Zoe’s absolute & pure delight at her wish come true – finally balancing the boy/girl ratio, Beau’s laughter at some funny baby E. expression, Theo’s enthrallment with this latest addition to his pack… It’s just lovely and we are all so happy for all of your family at this new blessing! Congratulations to all!

  • Your words and photographs are moving us all to tears. We are blessed to be witnesses to your experience. Thank you for your honesty, for being raw and real. Congratulations to your family of six!

  • I’ve cried reading this! Congrats! Such a happy family!

  • yours and Zoe’s face in that one picture. just beautiful. such joy.

  • Overwhelmingly beautiful.

  • Dearest Jessica, I have been reading and watching your beautiful family for about a year now through your posts and instagram. I have a 2yo german shepard pup and have been so taken by the bond between Theo and Beau. Your stories and photos always fill my heart with such joy. While I was so very happy to see the posts of your beautiful baby girl, it was seeing the photos of you with her in this post that filled my heart with the most amazing wave of emotion. I can not explain the tears streaming down my face and the feeling of love for you and your family and soooo much gratitude for the special moments you have shared. Odd to feel something so strongly for someone I don’t know – it has taken be aback. Sending you and your amazing clan love, laughter and mountains of joy.

  • So happy for you and your beautiful family for the healthy birth of your baby girl!!!! Congrats and thank you for sharing this and every day with Theo and Beau. I so enjoy seeing your wonderful pix. Many thanks. I am one of your biggest fans.

  • So truly happy for you all…the love shines through all your photos!!! God Bless your beautiful family! ✨

  • It’s been ages since I logged in anywhere as “This is Worthwhile,” but I wanted to
    Pass on my warmest wishes to you and your family. Four babies!!! Almost possible to imagine 🙂 Congrats again.

  • Your pictures, blog, family and outlook on life are so perfectly honest and real and beautiful. As a soon to be, first time stay at home mom, I can only hope to handle life with the humor and grace that you portray. And mostly I hope that my fur baby will love our new addition with the patience and undying affection that Theo and Beau have for each other. Thank you for sharing how wonderful everyday life can be. All the best to you and yours.

  • Such a beautiful story; I’m sitting here sobbing reading it. Thank you so much for sharing…and big hugs to you and your family members (including the furry one!)

  • Congratulations! Such a beautiful family. Best wishes in all the adjustments to come!

  • Jessica, this is a beautiful story but the photos themselves speak to the feelings and emotions felt by everyone including dear Evangeline. Many blessings and much love to you and your family. xo

  • Is the first time I read your blog and made me cry like a baby!. Thank you for sharing your story. Your new baby girl is beautiful!.

  • So excited for you and your family! Your newest addition is adorable! Enjoy!

  • What holistic remedies are you using? I encapsulated my placenta with my son and that helped a tremendous amount but I’m 20 weeks now and im now more interested in what else I can do! Please let me know!

  • Wow, beautiful story!! I’ll be welcoming my second next month and can’t wait to be a family of 4 (or 6 – counting the furry ones).
    Thanks for sharing, you guys make a lovely family!

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