“Malia Mei: A Courageous Birth” is a memoir by Michael Moline, a college instructor, loving husband and devoted father, that includes his recollection of the joy, fear, and hardships leading up to and following the unexpected premature birth of his daughter. Jelly Bean Journals is honored to share their story in this multi-part, bi-weekly series.
MALIA MEI: A Courageous Birth
by Michael Moline
Premonitions and Miracles:
Friday, August 28, 2015, Miracles:
This was about to be a glorious weekend. I had a class to teach at 9:00 am and one more from 11-12. Immediately after that, I would hit the road, grabbing some lunch on the way out of town and be in Denver 4 hours later. My brother would beat me there and close friend Jeremy would arrive at the airport around 4:00pm. I would pick him up, meet my brother at the hotel, and start a weekend full of drinks, gambling with each other, and best of all, attending the Broncos vs 49ers preseason football game. Minutes before my 9:00 started, my weekend plans were threatened.
Cherry called with scary news. She was bleeding and fearful she might be having a miscarriage. My world was rocked. I know many others who had endured such a disaster, but never believed it would happen to me (cliché, I know, but true nevertheless). I could hardly breathe. I shut the door to my office and cried until 9:00, at which point I composed myself enough to bring the class worksheet to the students. Luckily I was not providing a lecture that day, but rather a group worksheet. My composure did not last long and as a student asked if I was OK, all I could do was shake my head “no” and leave the room, hoping they would begin the worksheet without being told to do so (students…you never know). As my mind wandered and I contemplated any scenario where this would not be a miscarriage, I paced the halls, followed by the outside of the building, and ultimately around the buildings immediately surrounding mine. I sat on the ground at random locations throughout the walk and tried to come to grips with the idea that we had just lost our baby.
About 15 minutes later, I was finally able to muster the courage to return to class and help them navigate their worksheet, but I mostly sat quietly at the front table. The students were able to recognize my distress and did a nice job completing their worksheets in a timely manner without asking many questions. Near the end of the hour, the students turned in their papers and exited.
With an hour between classes, I promptly drove to Cherry’s work. I didn’t know if I was going to get more information or to see her thoughts about cancelling my trip or both. All I really knew was that I needed to see her. Immediately upon seeing her, Cherry told me she felt ok. The only words I could coherently come up with were “I don’t know what to do.” She told me to go on my trip and she would keep me informed. Knowing it would help me cope, I agreed to leave for Denver after my next class. I was able to “limp” through my 11:00 lecture and immediately left for Denver.
The timing was well planned. As I got into Denver, Jeremy called to tell me his flight had landed. He only had to wait a handful of minutes before I picked him up, at which point we headed to the hotel where my brother had already checked in. My original plan was to disclose our pregnancy subtly in conversation by speaking of my “children” as opposed to “child.” That’s my odd sense of humor, I suppose. However, due to the new circumstances, that plan changed. I planned to tell them both what was happening when we first got together. That way, I could get it off my chest, they would understand why I might break down randomly throughout the weekend, and hopefully we could try to enjoy ourselves since I would not have to hold in my terrible news. However, when we arrived, my brother had a friend with him. I was not prepared to tell my brother, close friend, and random girl about my wife’s likely miscarriage.
Luckily, “Random Girl” did not want to come up to the room with us to drop off our items; she preferred to wait in the lobby. As the three of us entered the room, I (of course) broke down. It took several minutes to compose myself enough to share the news. Ultimately, I spit it out. They consoled me for a bit, I settled myself down, and we got on with our fun weekend. It turned out to be a very fun weekend and I am glad I went. Throughout the weekend, Cherry was able to relay promising news that our baby was still alive and well in utero. The bleeding turned out to be a subchorionic hematoma, not a miscarriage.
How does this equate to the aforementioned “miracle?” Well, the key is what I did that night. That night, I prayed. I didn’t just pray. It was not a simple prayer that I often perform. No, that night I prayed in a way I had only done one other time in my life and have done only one time since. The former is irrelevant to this story and serves only as evidence to me that a higher power exists. The latter occurred while Malia was in the NICU. It’s hard to explain these prayers and how they have differed from others. The best word that comes to mind is desperation. They were prayers of desperation in all three of these instances. They were also in situations I felt hopeless, situations where I truly believed it was over and some sort of divine intervention was the only way out. And, in all three of these instances, my prayers were answered. Three times in my life I have felt desperate and prayed in despair. All three times, God came through. These are the miracles I speak of.
September, 2015- March, 2016, Premonitions:
I’ve put this off a long time. Malia is a bit over 6 months old as I write this final part of my story. This has been a secret that haunted me for a long time and I hate to think about it to this day. I do not know if it stemmed from believing we lost our baby in August, 2015 or if God was setting me up to unveil himself to me via Malia’s condition and subsequent recovery. The details are fuzzy and vague at this point because it all went away after Malia was born, but prior to her birth I had what I can only describe as premonitions.
For 6 months leading up to Malia’s birth, I was meant to believe she would not survive. Countless times, the absurd thought popped into my head. It must have been a weekly occurrence where my subconscious mind would push the idea into my conscious thoughts and I would have to fight it off. It became emotionally draining, a challenge I struggled to handle, and a secret I never wanted to share. I was further (and especially) bothered by these thoughts when Cherry’s water broke prematurely, when I passed the flipped car on the way to the hospital the day Malia was born, and when the negative songs randomly played one after another when Ariah and I arrived at the hospital moments before Malia was born. When Malia was forced to fight her infection immediately upon her birth, I figured these irrational thoughts must have come from somewhere. Could life be so random that I would have these thoughts for 6 months and Malia would be born with a life threatening condition? I find it logical to believe a higher power was showing itself to me and if I prayed in despair once again, it would come through for me once again. I don’t know if it is God, another dimension, or some other unexplainable phenomenon, but it is my humble opinion that it is asinine to believe our science is advanced enough to discount any of the above. Malia Mei was my miracle that secured that belief for me. Malia Mei is my miracle child.
- The Ronald McDonald House is a worthy charity for anyone to consider providing support (money, services, items). Additionally, local organizations blew my mind with their generosity. We were typically provided 2 meals every day we were there, sometimes 3.
- I’m astounded by the amount of coffee I will drink when it is free and easily accessible. When the coffee machine near Malia’s second room broke down, I started to get headaches, likely caused by caffeine withdrawal. Oops.
- Those who work in the medical field have to be cognizant of patients’ and their family’s ignorance and fear. I was afraid of everything I didn’t understand and wanted (needed) to know the reason for everything and that it was safe and ok.
- In a matter of about 1 month, I made 4 round trip drives to Denver, 3 of which included Ariah. Long car rides should be nothing to this family now.
- Health insurance is necessary. We were billed over $650,000 and paid under $5,000 for the entire year. Everyone should have health insurance.
- Malia Mei Moline is the toughest person I know.
A special thanks to Michael Moline for sharing his amazing memoir, Malia Mei: A Courageous Birth. Reading this story through the eyes of a loving father has been an incredible experience. (The world is a better place because of dads like you.) Also, thanks to all of our readers who followed along on this journey; we know you fell in love with this family just like we did. To Malia Mei: you are a strong, inspiring girl. We are looking forward to your bright future and all you will accomplish! You have given a brave face to #preemiestrong and we wish you every great thing life has to offer.
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