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.

baby micah.

NAMING MICAH

When I was 20 weeks pregnant with Eliza and found out that she was a girl, we felt strongly about the name Eliza Rose but also had the name Micah on the table. Micah had originally been our boy name through two pregnancies, but we also loved the name for a girl. That same night, I had a dream that we had three girls: Lydia, Eliza, and our littlest, Micah. 

I woke up that next morning and felt so strongly: The Lord is saying don’t be afraid to have three girls, and you’re supposed to have one more: Micah.

Micah is Hebrew for the phrase “who is like God?” We also loved the name because it comes from the same root word as Michael (Kevin’s middle name) and Michelle (Kevin’s mother’s name.) Open handed but confident, from that moment I had held onto a vision of our family. Months after Eliza was born, Kevin and I couldn’t wait to be pregnant again and have our Micah—boy or girl—and complete our family.

LIFE BEFORE MICAH

Leading up to December, we had entered a dark season for reasons that I will keep confidential on this platform. I was exhausted from nights without sleep and I felt scared and anxious leading up to the days of my missed period. On our first pregnancy test we saw the smallest, faintest line. I’ll never forget that night when around 9pm, Kevin left for the store to get more pregnancy tests. The next one showed an even fainter line—but the line was still there. After processing it all, we decided to tell no one but planned to take another test a few days later to confirm. 

On the morning of December 7, I took another pregnancy test and left it in the bathroom. Kevin and I swooped up our two daughters to bring them back to see the results and celebrate the news: a solid line! “There’s a baby in mommy’s belly!!!” The four of us cheered, danced, and celebrated! Over the next several weeks and through the holidays we shared our news with friends and family. My baby bump showed quickly. I had all the symptoms. Our family felt complete.

Immediately we started calling the baby Micah.

LIFE WITH MICAH

Despite it being a challenging season, there were also sweet moments that Micah experienced with us. Micah helped me turn 30 years old and celebrate entering a new decade! Micah gave us hope for the year 2021 after a really difficult 2020. One part of this last month that I never want to forget was the first time Lydia, at 2 ½ years old, ever asked to pray before a meal or before bedtime started the week before our miscarriage. She insisted on praying and would pray: Dear Lord, please help the baby in Mommy’s belly, thank you for Baby Micah, I pray she grows and is born. Amen. Hallelujah! (Lydia Evelyn, I will never forget your first genuine prayer. I am so sorry that God didn’t answer it the way we wanted.) 

The week leading up to our miscarriage was one of the most emotionally exhausting weeks of my life. But Micah was with me for every single heartbeat. For every sleepless night. For every helpless prayer. Micah brought me comfort and gave me hope. After a week of traumatic and hurtful events that I will not record, on Wednesday, January 6, a sweet friend took my kids for a few hours and sent me off to have time with Jesus. I wrote these words: 

In 2020 I am leaving behind regret. I am leaving behind what could have been, the grief of loss that surrounded me from every side. 

In 2021, I will be marked by freedom. I will be marked by embracing my humanness. By embracing my limitations and my capacity. By wholly accepting the gospel as I am – not for what I can achieve. May my weaknesses be Your Glory. 

.

THE DAY WE LOST MICAH

Lydia woke us up at 6am on Thursday, January 7, just like she had most mornings the past month. Yet instead of having Kevin go tell her to say in her room one more hour, I had this sudden urge to be with her. I said out loud: “I want to hold my baby.” I asked Kevin if he would bring her back to bed with us. In a very rare moment for my never-stop-moving toddler, she climbed in bed with me and just hugged me and told me she loved me. We didn’t stop holding each other and telling the other I love you for about 15 minutes. That was a gift. I got my usual morning cuddles in with Eliza and started getting ready for my morning doctor’s appointment. This appointment was supposed to be the point of relief after a really emotionally exhausting week. 

And for about 5 seconds, I had that relief. Kevin, Lydia and Eliza were on FaceTime as the sonogram tech started the sonogram. Immediately, we saw Micah.

“Look Lydia and Eliza!” I said out loud over the phone. “There’s baby Micah!” 

There are really no words to describe what happened next. To experience the joy of seeing your baby on the screen and sharing that joy with your other children – to the shock and confusion of hearing a sonogram tech say the words: “I’m so sorry, there’s no heartbeat.”

I was stunned to silence. The only words I could mutter were: “Are you sure?”

As Kevin’s hands went to his eyes hiding tears, I saw Lydia’s face in the corner. I heard her sweet voice ask, “What happened to baby Micah?” 

I took a deep breath. To help my oldest daughter understand, I had to speak into existence the truth that still hadn’t hit me. “Baby Micah died.” 

I collected my sonogram picture of baby Micah and was ushered into another room. Kevin and I stayed on the phone and cried together until my mom came to pick up the girls from our house, and Kevin stayed on the phone through all the next steps. We decided to choose the pill option with the hopes of inducing miscarriage and avoiding surgery if possible. We asked all the questions we could think of during the appointment, including, “Is there anything we could have done to prevent or cause this?” and “Is there any chance our baby’s heart will start beating again?”

As soon as I arrived at home Kevin and I just held each other and cried. After a few calls and texts, we agreed that we wanted to go pick up our girls, clear out our work schedules, and take the medicine later that day.

I was almost 10 weeks on a third pregnancy and had passed the point of hiding my bump. The hardest part was that Lydia could see the baby in my belly. We had to explain to her that baby Micah wouldn’t be in my belly anymore but instead would be in heaven with Jesus. Having to remind her of this constantly for the first two days became one of the hardest parts. (But her accepting and telling me she now longer sees a baby in my belly was just as hard.)

After putting the girls down for their afternoon naps, Kevin and I sat in the quiet of our living room. We processed all of our emotions and as much grief as we could verbalize. When it became time to take the medicine, I broke down. There was something about the actual act of vaginally inserting pills that made it feel so final. Not to mention I was really scared for what was to come. We decided in that moment to just stop and pray. We wept together and cried out to God, but in our prayers, we just couldn’t stop thanking God for Micah and for the time that we did have with this baby, for the season that we did carry this child in. This little life was beyond a gift to us for nearly 10 weeks. This little life changed us. 

We lamented what could have been and quickly our prayers turned into talking directly to Micah.

Micah, we love you… we were so excited when we found out about you… thank you for comforting us and bringing us joy in one of the darkest seasons of our life… we wish we could have met you, held you, heard your first cry, seen your first smile, seen you take your first steps, and raised you. We promise you, Micah, we will never forget you. We will never forget the time you were with us. You will always be a part of our family and always in our hearts. We can’t wait to meet you and hold you in heaven. We rejoice that the first time you opened your eyes, you saw Jesus. But Micah, we miss you…

When we said everything that we could think to say and everything we could think to pray, we took our first step forward. With Kevin at my side in the bathroom around 4pm on one of the longest days of our lives, we inserted the medicine. Eliza woke up a few minutes later and that evening playing with our children provided the most beautiful distraction.

A few friends dropped off meals, some essentials, and some surprises that comforted us in the moment. Tears and numbness rotated in waves. Nausea set in quickly and I couldn’t eat much but a green smoothie sustained me. Around the girls’ bedtime at 8pm, the cramping began. Fortunately, it wasn’t until after they went to sleep that I saw my first drop of bright red blood.

We set up a heating pad near the living room couch, got some blankets, lit a candle, and turned on The Voice season finale. And for the next few hours, that’s where we remained. My husband held me and every 15-30 minutes we paused the show, went to the bathroom, and Kevin held my hand through it all. While we were never able to see at the time, in hindsight, we are both pretty sure of the moment when the clotting blood passing was the worst. I wept on the toilet and cried out each of the three times when the passing was at its climax. 

We weren’t sure how long the night would last, but thankfully cramping ceased around 11pm and the night ended with me falling asleep on Kevin exhausted on the couch.

LIFE WITHOUT MICAH

I woke up the next morning around 6am, surprised I was able to sleep that long. As soon as I stood up, I was shocked. My stomach had already shrunk. My morning sickness felt different. I felt postpartum. I felt very similar to the day after I gave birth to Lydia and Eliza, except that today I woke up without Micah. 

And I felt the weight in my heart. I felt the loss. Like someone was missing. Grief overtook me, but as the day went on, so did the healing, both physically and emotionally. I cried a lot. My mom dropped off soup and helped with my kids while my sister, who works in health care, also came over. I drilled her on any possible medical and genetic question I could have surrounding pregnancy and miscarriage, which helped to make logical sense of our loss. Later, one of my best friends from high school who had also been through a miscarriage came over. We cried over our angel babies and the empty feeling of our arms, we processed similar fears, temporarily carrying the weight of the loss being our faults and the helplessness we felt in the darkest moments. Then later that night, I hopped on Zoom with three of my best friends who know me better than I know myself to have a beer and cheers to baby Micah’s sweet life, even amid the loss. I knew I was ready for my first beer when it didn’t feel like an escape, but instead, an outward symbol of acceptance.

Over the weekend we continued to take space to just be together as a family. Mostly, when my kids were awake, I could hold it together. But when they were asleep, Kevin and I just fell apart. We’ve had to process and grieve the loss in so many more ways than I would have imagined. At the same breath, we have been completely in awe of the community that has come around us. From meals to coffee to flowers to texts and phone calls and prayers. The love we’ve experienced from our community during this season has changed us forever.

Lydia and Eliza’s sweet presence has been healing and comforting. I am so sad and miss carrying Micah and miss the life we could have had with him or her, but I am also overwhelmed with gratitude that I carried this baby during a really dark and challenging 10 weeks for unrelated personal reasons. Every day of Micah’s life served extraordinary purpose for me.

We’re not angry at God, we feel comforted by His love and grace.
We don’t feel alone, in fact our community has surrounded us.
But we just feel really sad. We miss Micah. 

In the almost 12 years I’ve known Kevin, I had never seen him like that. I had never seen him weep uncontrollably like he did. His emotion was what first brought the emotion out of me. We have grieved similar in some ways, and different in others, but the level of heartbreak we have both experienced has been the same. Despite a really hard week and a continued grief journey, we feel God with us, we see His blessings. We were gifted with space to be together. As the weekend came to an end, we grieved that as well because it felt like the time we got to “be” with and bond with Micah. Moving on to our busy lives felt like we were losing even more of what we will never get back. But we knew we needed to move forward. To push past the triggers and the ways we wanted to run away. But we found comfort that we will hold Micah in our hearts for the rest of our time on earth until we hold him or her in heaven.

ETERNITY WITH MICAH

Speaking of heaven, Kevin and I had always joked that he wanted a gender “surprise.” Meaning, during one of our pregnancies he wanted to be surprised by the gender when we met the baby after delivery. But knowing me, I am one of those people that needs to and loves finding out the gender at our 20-week ultrasound. We don’t know if Micah was a boy or a girl, but now we’ve joked that Kevin will finally get his surprise when we meet Micah in heaven! I can just imagine being there when Kevin arrives, or Kevin being there when I arrive, and shouting out, “Micah is a girl!” or “Micah is a boy!” What a sweet moment that will be! 

Micah means “who is like God?” We have found that phrase to be true in this season. God alone restores our joy in the midst of our sorrow. Our hope and trust in Him allows sadness and peace to coexist. We have seen that there is no community like the community of God, coming around someone as they suffer and value the human life we carried, no matter how brief. The meaning of Micah’s name reminds us to look up to God in the midst of our doubts and remember that His ways are higher, His plans are greater. He is worthy of our love, our trust, our all. There is no one like our God.

Kevin and I feel blessed beyond measure that we get to raise our two beautiful daughters in this lifetime, and now we can’t wait to meet our angel baby in the next. It’s been waves of really hard and sad, and waves of peace and comfort, but overall, we are doing well. Thanks to those who have entered the journey with us.

We love you, baby Micah.