“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9
CJ is here now and almost three weeks old. I am in awe of him, and at the same time, it doesn’t feel real that he’s here. That he is who he is. That he’s my son. That he’s as beautiful as he is. More wonderful than I could have ever imagined. I stare at him in wonder and my long pregnancy that I never thought would end now fades away as a distant memory.
Caleb Jordan’s name means “courage and faithfulness flow down.” God’s strength and faithfulness have been beyond present in our lives all pregnancy and his birthday was no exception. We feel blessed beyond measure.
So in the midst of newborn feedings by day, night, and dawn, between many moments of holding him against my chest with tears of relief and gratitude streaming down my face, and amid mothering three children through the rush of the holidays, I pause. I pause to write down the birth story of Caleb Jordan. The day that God’s faithfulness and courage flowed down to us through his labor and delivery.
THE DAYS BEFORE.
After making it through Eliza’s birthday (12/10) and birthday party (12/11), as well as a few end-of-the-year Christmas parties, we had finally made it to Sunday, our day of rest. A quick COVID test in the morning kicked off our 48-hours of quarantine before a scheduled induction on Tuesday morning, December 14, 2021.
Around 10:30pm on that Sunday night, I started having contractions that lasted a minute and were about 10 minutes apart. This went on for about two hours, and the Lord used this round of false labor to expose the fear and control I had in my heart. CJ’s birth was not up to my physical strength or my timing. God’s strength alone would carry me through labor, day or night, and His timing would be perfect. God used this false labor to help make my final day without CJ born more real, to move it from my logical thought process of having a baby to my heart—to feel the weight of his soon-to-be arrival.
On that Monday (12/13), we had a family day, and I was more present than I would have been because of God’s grace to work on my heart, treasuring time with Kevin, Lydia and Eliza, a warm winter day’s sunshine that allowed us to play outside, and my last day of pregnancy. As I tucked Lydia and Eliza into bed and said goodnight, I came out to the living room couch and wept. The last night of just the two of them without their little brother around. I wrote in Lydia’s prayer journal that night, after having written in Eliza’s the day before. I am so proud of who they both are and the people they are becoming.
Kevin and I woke up around six in the morning and embraced. I did the slow roll out of bed that comes with being 9-months pregnant. It had been a physically challenging pregnancy with debilitating lower back pain for most of it. I was long ready to be on the other side. Kevin and I spent the next 45 minutes mostly in silence as we got ready. Little words were spoken, only prayers in our hearts for the day. We woke up Lydia and Eliza and got them ready to go over to my parent’s house in town.
As we drove to my parent’s house and on the way to the hospital, God gave us the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen in Lawrence, Kansas. It was utterly shocking. The words that came across my mind immediately were these: Who is like our God?
[NOTE: If you know my story, you know that these words are significant to me. Who is like our God is the meaning of “Micah” in Hebrew. Micah is the name of the baby we lost to miscarriage in January 2021.]
Immediately I felt Micah with me. This gift from God felt so personal. Like He wanted to just show off and lavish me with His comfort and love. Tears welled as I dropped Lydia and Eliza off, and I sensed Micah remained with me. Thank you God for the most perfect morning.
The song “The Bones” by Maren Morris came on as we drove north down Iowa Street to the hospital, a song that Kevin and I have listened to many times together. A song about handling adversity with someone you love, but not falling or breaking because the foundation is strong. In the hard journey of this last year, our foundation has been built on the rock of Christ. Our marriage has remained strong. No matter what life threw at us, we stood firm in faith and love. I added this song to our labor playlist as the final song and sang out loud as we drove.
After getting checked in, IV set up, and getting to know our nurse Colleen, my sister Rosie arrived. We caught up briefly before Dr. Riggs came in to break my water. I was dilated at 5cm, 80% effaced, -2 station. While I hadn’t felt a contraction yet, labor started.
After an hour of walking up and down hallways, waiting for contractions to start, I finally felt a slightly stronger contraction.
We spent more time walking up and down the hallways, and while I had a few contractions here and there, I was starting to get impatient and feel anxious. Morning was closing down, and so far, I was progressing slower than I had during my induction with Eliza. We returned to the room, and I started considering Pitocin – a medicine that would increase labor and speed of contractions. While I talked this over with Kevin and Rosie, the nurse walked in to tell us that CJ’s heart rate was dropping with contractions. This was most likely a sign that the cord was wrapped around his body somewhere, and likely wrapped around his neck. I was no longer allowed to leave the room. We needed to monitor Caleb’s heart rate closely from here. As I processed this news, the fear and longing to hold my son came. Just as I was considering Pitocin one last time, I felt contractions picking up. I moved to sitting on the stability ball to start active labor.
Shortly after, active labor was increasing, and so was the pain. I looked at my husband and sister in one moment and said, “I feel weak. I feel weaker than I’ve been with past labors.” Kevin shared the gospel truth of God’s strength in me. After a pause, Rosie looked at me and said, “Maggie, you are weak. And THIS is the year you actually embraced that you are weak. You’ve acknowledged that you need God’s strength in ways you never have before, that you can’t do it on your own. Because of this, you’re stronger than I’ve ever seen you before.”
The Holy Spirit took over in that moment. I was reminded instantly of my prayer for 2021: “embrace my humanness.” Many were praying this over my life, and I remember writing it down the day before our miscarriage and asking God to help me understand that my humanness – my brokenness, weakness, and imperfections – were beautiful because HE created me human, and HE designed me to be dependent on Him to be made complete and experience true joy and peace.
This was a turning point for me in labor. I embraced my humanness, my weakness, just like I had all year long. God’s strength became alive in me.
I had progressed to 6cm, 0 station. I asked my nurse what position would make labor go the quickest. She recommended laboring on my side with the peanut-shaped ball between my legs.
Rosie and Kevin repeated “keep breathing, relax, stay in control. God’s giving you His strength in each breath.” Kevin held my hand and kept his face near mine, whispering encouragement and truth, while Rosie put pressure on my back when I needed it. I continued to repeat “God’s strength in me” in my mind, sometimes out loud, through most remaining contractions.
As I had at this point mentally prepared to be in labor longer, I decided to try to make it to the bathroom. After using the toilet and enduring a contraction there, I saw blood dripping down my legs. My nurse came in at that moment letting me know that was my “bloody show” and sternly telling me to get back in the hospital bed so she could check me. I was at 8cm, and she said she was going to call in Dr. Riggs.
Within five minutes of returning to the hospital bed, I was feeling the urge to push. I told Kevin this as the room filled with additional nurses and shortly after, my doctor. The nurses and staff all commented on how calm the room was and what great music we had. Maverick City Music’s “Not Afraid” featuring Naomi Raine & Mav City Gospel Choir had just started. One nurse who walked in said, “Jesus-music playing in here. This is my playlist at home!” Dr. Riggs, now gowned and ready, checked me and I was dilated at 10cm! She moved me into the pushing position and told me to push at the next contraction. As she was saying that, a contraction had already started. “Do you mean this one that’s starting right now?” I asked. I got the confirmation to push once and CJ crowned immediately. My doctor paused me long enough to check for a cord around CJ’s neck, and there was no cord. I got the go ahead to push again.
At 12:45pm, just 45 minutes after my moment of weakness and crying out to the Lord, before the 4-minute song ended, Caleb Jordan was born. In the words of Dr. Riggs, he was born with “one push and half a contraction.”
As God’s strength had taken over and the words “I’m not afraid” rang out from the song, I’ve been reminded of truly what a holy moment that was. The lyrics perfectly coincided with the verse that we chose for Caleb Jordan’s nursery and have been praying over his life: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Kevin immediately started weeping and I cried out “My son, my son!” repeatedly. It took him a few seconds to start crying, so nurses were using towels to dry him off and get him to start screaming. As the cry started Caleb also started peeing which made us laugh with joy as he was set on my chest. We have a boy! We embraced and treasured our son in our arms.
We saw CJ’s dark hair and deep, blue-grey eyes, similar to his sisters, but other than those features he looked so unique. We examined him head to toe, and I also closed my eyes to just feel him. “It is Well” by Bethel came on the speaker. As Dr. Riggs stitched me up, reporting no major tears, she joked, “I wish you would have pushed more so we could have jammed out to your music longer!” She also told CJ before she left the room that he was one of the luckiest kids she knew. Colleen, our nurse who has been doing labor and delivery for 20+ years, told us later that his birth was one of the most beautiful births she had ever witnessed between our worship of God, our calm and control, and Kevin and my love and support for each other. Another nurse came back in to tell us, “The way you two were together—and maybe it was the music—I just had to say, that was beautiful.” I treasure all these words and praise God for creating such a holy space for Caleb’s birth, and write them here so one day I can share them with my son, remembering every detail.
I needed medicine to help my uterus continue to contract because it was not firming up fast enough. Kevin enjoyed his first skin to skin time with CJ and Rosie returned with Chipotle for my lunch. The nurse took CJ’s vitals, and after speculating over/under 9 pounds, we all cheered and laughed when the scale showed us: 9 pounds, 12 ounces. He measured 21.5 inches – so he passed Eliza in weight and Lydia in height, making him our biggest baby of our three!
At 6am the next morning, during an early morning nursing hour, Kevin and I turned on The Voice season finale. This was a redemptive moment for us. In January, we had watched the Season 19 finale during our actual miscarrying and passing of baby Micah. We would pause the show during frequent trips to the bathroom and sessions of tears, and it helped distract the pain of the cramping and miscarriage that lasted late into the night. It’s not a memory I choose to look back on often, but as the Lord redeems in ways ever so personal, He redeemed this memory too. We watched Season 21 of The Voice finale, but this time with Caleb born, holding him in our arms.
We had just a few performances left to watch when a nurse came in early to take Caleb away to do his circumcision, so we stopped the show and tried to get another hour of sleep.
As we were preparing to leave and waiting on discharge medications, we decided to play the final few minutes of the season finale. I set out a few different outfits to dress CJ for coming home. The final performance by Wendy Moten was “Over the Rainbow.” I looked down at the two rainbow outfits I held in my two hands, gifted to us for our “rainbow baby.” I said out loud to Kevin, “Well, this song is appropriate,” and held up the rainbows to show him.
Kevin, holding Caleb in his arms, immediately broke into tears, and my tears came shortly after as I processed the weight of that moment.
We miscarried Micah while watching the finale of this show.
We held Caleb close in the hospital while watching the finale of this show.
We were minutes away from going home, from bringing our healthy baby boy home.
The final song of the episode, that we happened to be watching in this moment, sang so beautifully, was “Over the Rainbow.”
God sees us.
God redeems our pain and restores our joy, so personally.
Thank you, God, for your great love.
Kevin and I held each other and cried as we looked down at Caleb Jordan Tietz, our rainbow baby, our unexpected miracle. And within minutes from that moment, we took him home.
When God made you, CJ, this much is true—
the world got to meet who God already knew.