cj’s birth story

“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.

THE MORNING.

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. 

7:15am

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. 

8:55am

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.  

10:18am

After an hour of walking up and down hallways, waiting for contractions to start, I finally felt a slightly stronger contraction.

11:30am

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.

11:55am

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. 

12:34pm

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.

12:40pm

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.

12:45pm

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.

1:05pm

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.

2:20pm

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!

GOING HOME.

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.

naming caleb jordan.

With great joy, Kevin and I named our daughters Lydia Evelyn and Eliza Rose within hours after finding out their genders around 20 weeks pregnant. Our last pregnancy, we had decided on “Micah” boy or girl and had been referring to Micah by name within a few days after we found out we were pregnant.

Through our first two pregnancies with Lydia and Eliza, Micah had been our top boy’s name. We’d hardly even considered other boy names because we were so sure of it. So, after losing Micah to miscarriage, and nearing halfway on our rainbow-baby pregnancy, brainstorming boy names were a total blank slate. 

As we awaited the gender, “Baby J” had been this baby’s nickname from early on, mostly due to the Jayhawk mascot and being a KU family! Along the way, we also wondered if this kid would have a J name and the nickname “J” would stick for the rest of their life. When it came down to the week of our gender reveal, we had our top three girl names and top three boy names, and all of them started with the letter “J” except one late addition: Caleb.

Caleb means faithful, whole-hearted devotion, brave, and courageous. It was the meaning behind this name that drew us in most, as I’ll get into more later. As the days before our gender reveal grew closer, we landed on our top girl’s name, but our boy’s name remained unclear. Every time we casually discussed boy names, ultimately, we couldn’t even fathom having a boy! The very thought that blue balloons could come out of that box felt so surreal to me that naming a son was even less comprehendible. So, Kevin and I stacked hands on our girl’s name and when it came to our boy’s name we agreed: let’s cross that bridge when we get there.

T H E . R E V E A L .

On the Sunday before our 20-week appointment and gender reveal, I was sitting in church, and our pastor closed his sermon by inviting us to intentionally avoid distractions and listen to the voice of God. I had been preoccupied all sermon-long recounting regrets from the day and overanalyzing what others thought of me, constantly replaying situations in my head. As I paused to ask God what He had to say and put away the tormenting distractions in my mind, the Holy Spirit brought this Scripture to mind:

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13).

God, I feel so faithless, and so full of doubt… 
I AM FAITHFUL.”
This year, this season, it’s been so hard… 
I AM FAITHFUL.”
But God, what if…?
I AM FAITHFUL.”

My thoughts had been interrupted, and I could not get His words “I am faithful” out of my head. It was as if the very voice of God had been written on my heart. I could no longer think of my faithless regrets, only of the Grace that comes through Christ alone. Praise God, even in our doubts and disbeliefs, even when we lack faith, HE IS FAITHFUL

As we were driving away after church, I shared this moment with Kevin. I knew that God wanted to draw my attention away from my faithlessness in that moment and focus my attention on His faithfulness – and to give my God the worship and glory He deserves. To rest in His grace. I also told Kevin, with open hands: “If we are having a boy, did God just give me his name? Will our son’s name forever remind me that God is faithful?”

I pondered these things in my heart, but Wednesday’s reveal still needed to come. 

O U R . B O Y .

Even though I had said that out loud to Kevin days before, that Lydia had insisted all pregnancy that Baby J was a boy, and I’d had a dream about being pregnant with a boy two weeks before our positive test… still I doubted and convinced myself that we were having a third girl. We had an all-girl family, and surely that’s how it would always be…

We had decided to save the special moment of finding out the gender of Baby J until we could have the moment with our daughters Lydia and Eliza at our sides. After a healthy 20-week appointment and the gender sealed in an envelope, we gave the sealed envelope to a dear friend who put together a box filled with balloons and streamers for the reveal. We invited a few close friends and family to join in the celebration. This same friend caught on video our reaction: shock, surprise, excitement, and literal jumping for joy when blue balloons and streamers indeed poured over our heads! 

It’s a boy! He’s a boy! We are having a son!

While we processed all the emotions – the excitement, the fear, the joy – it was within the full week after this reveal that God confirmed our son’s name, Caleb Jordan. His nickname around the house has slowly changed from Baby J to Baby CJ

C A L E B . J O R D A N . 

Most of 2020 through the start of 2021 was a difficult season for our family, even before our miscarriage in January. Heading into the year, the Lord gave Kevin the word “courage.” His constant prayer: Lord, give me more courage. Kevin’s conviction was that it’s not about getting things right or having the right answers, but simply having more courage. For me, I felt that I was constantly being reminded into the new year to “embrace my humanness.” My conviction was that it’s not about my ability to be faithful on my own, but that God alone is faithful, and He created me—human—to depend on Him, and that dependence is not weakness; that dependance is beautiful.

As I mentioned earlier, Caleb means “faithful, whole-hearted devotion, brave, and courageous.” It truly was the meaning of his name that we couldn’t get past because of how it fit with the exact words and prayers we’d been praying for in this season of our life. It encompassed both the word COURAGE and FAITHFUL. We needed courage to rise redeemed out of a season of darkness and to re-enter hope and intimate relationships. We needed our faith to be dependent on God and not on ourselves in the depths of our grief.

As we look back on this entire season, it was more than just that moment sitting in church and hearing God draw my attention to His faithfulness, but GOD has made His faithfulness known throughout our entire pregnancy with Caleb Jordan, from the unplanned timing of conception to the joy of discovering we will raise a son! 

For his middle name, Jordan means “to flow down.” The Jordan River has very significant symbolism in the Bible and has provided several meanings for us. Water is a representation of new life. Just as Caleb Jordan is the sign of new life after loss, so water represents new life in Christ through baptism.

Secondly, the Jordan River is another symbol and reminder of God’s faithfulness to His people. After wondering 40 years in the desert, after decades of unfaithfulness and turning away from the Lord, God carries the Hebrew people through the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. The Israelites were faithless, but God remained faithful. And then, centuries later, God chooses to send His son Jesus into the world – the ultimate symbol of His faithfulness to a faithless human race. God had spoken of Jesus’ coming through the kings and prophets, and again He was faithful to carry out His promise. And where does Jesus’ ministry begin? Jesus’ ministry begins with His baptism in the Jordan River.

The Jordan River is where Jesus was baptized and truly began His ministry on earth after 30 years of waiting (Mark 1:9-11).

Together, Caleb Jordan means “faithfulness and courage flow down.” And wow, has God’s faithfulness and courage flowed down from heaven to us through this precious life!

T H E . N A M I N G .

After a weekend trip away, about a week after the reveal, I was sitting down during Lydia and Eliza’s nap time and praying that God would confirm our son’s name to me. I was drawn to study the Scriptures and the life of Caleb, a courageous and faithful warrior. I found the account in Numbers 13-14 of Caleb, who enters to story as one who took part in Israel’s great exodus from Egypt, through the parting of the Red Sea, a rising leader among the tribe of Judah. As I read that story, I saw Caleb’s faithfulness and whole-hearted devotion to God in the face of disapproval and even death. I saw Caleb’s courage to speak out against all of Israel to trust in God’s faithfulness. I read about the way that God honored Caleb’s whole-hearted devotion and courage by allowing him to be one among only two from his generation that would see Israel indeed experience and receive the Promised Land.  

As I read Numbers 13:30, the words nearly leapt off the page: “Then Caleb quieted the people in the presence of Moses and said, ‘Let’s go up now and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it!’”

Again, in Numbers 14:8-9, Caleb along with Joshua persist against Israel’s betrayal and faithlessness, saying: “Don’t rebel against the Lord and don’t be afraid of the people of the land… the Lord is with us. Don’t be afraid of them!

And yet, Israel chooses to deny God, and as God’s just wrath comes, God spares Caleb and acknowledges his faithfulness: “But since my servant Caleb has a different spirit and has remained loyal to me, I will bring him into the land where he has gone, and his descendants will inherit it” Numbers 14:24.

This kind of courage, this kind of faithfulness, that is our prayer for our Caleb Jordan. That he would live a life of courage and whole-hearted devotion to his God and King. In this moment that I was praying for our son, Kevin spontaneously walked in the door, and we studied the Scriptures together. Tears filled our eyes and we prayed. God had just revealed Caleb Jordan’s name to us. 

1 0 . W E E K S . L A T E R .

The past 10 weeks have been a blur since that day, and as I write this, I am nearly 32 weeks pregnant. CJ is moving all the time, day and night, whether I’m laying down, sitting, or walking. We just finished a very busy few months of work and life and I should be spending more time on the couch. Lydia and Eliza love watching CJ grow and give him hugs and kisses and talk with him every single day. Lydia is constantly asking questions about his arrival and always follows up on how his doctor’s appointments go. Lydia and Eliza have both made a habit of praying for baby CJ at night to grow healthy and strong. Our whole family is counting down the weeks until his arrival! 

With only 8 weeks to go, I’m trying to start a small baby registry and think about boy nursery items but the little boy clothes and decor all still feel very foreign to me. As we transition Eliza to her sister’s room and start getting CJ’s room ready in a few weeks, I wonder if adding a third, a son, to our family will start to feel more real. Chasing two toddlers with physical pain and fatigue from pregnancy don’t allow much time for planning and dreaming for the future, but it also makes the moments that I stop to pray or dream that much sweeter.

Lord, thank you for this little life. Thank you for Caleb Jordan. Thank you for our son. May he continuously remind us of Your faithfulness flowing down to us and to have courage no matter what season we are in. We can’t wait to meet you, CJ.