Other than being a couple of weeks early, Malachi Karns made his entry into the world generally as planned.
It was the unexpected appearance of his younger sister, Evangeline, who caused some chaos in the Grand Haven family’s household on Dec. 27.
Malachi weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces when he was born at about 6 that evening to parents Tyler and Avery Karns at their home.
“It was a smooth birth,” Avery said. “It was not easy, but it was smooth.”
The Karnses, both chiropractors, chose to have their child at home through natural childbirth.
"It’s our general life philosophy,” Avery said. “We wanted to give our kids the best, most natural, clean shot into the world.”
And that means with a minimal intervention from drugs and surgery, the Karnses said. They did not know their baby's gender before he was born.
“We were trying to avoid exposure to ultrasound,” Avery said.
The family — which also includes their 2 1/2-year-old son, Sebastian — wasn’t quite ready for Malachi’s early appearance.
“My due date was Jan. 10,” Avery said. “Tyler was gone for two hours to pick up the last supplies we needed.”
Two hours later, Malachi made his appearance.
Avery said she was using a birth pool for a water birth, but felt the need to go to the bathroom. That's when she got out of the little pool and walked toward that part of the house.
“My midwife had a very strong feeling by the time I got to the bathroom (that) I would have the baby,” Avery said. “She was right. Three contractions and the baby was out.”
Avery said the midwife caught the baby because she was standing up.
Afterward, the parents laid down on their bed with their new child to relax.
“I was actually feeling really good — not too tired,” Avery said.
Midwife Shannon Pawson was administering to Avery when she noticed something unexpected.
“She had me stand up and told me to push,” Avery said. “My husband asked why. She said there’s another baby in there. We didn’t believe it.”
“My first thought was — no, there’s not,” Tyler said. “I didn’t plan on it.”
An ambulance was called and paramedics quickly arrived. They were informed by Pawson that the baby was breech (bottom first).
Avery said she knew from her training that there was no option other than to go to the hospital for an emergency C-section.
“It was the most uncomfortable, scary experience — in stark contrast to what I had just experienced with the birth of Malichi,” she said. “So I breathed and prayed.”
Evangeline — weighing 4 pounds, 11 ounces — was born less than an hour later.
Tyler said his newborn daughter had trouble breathing at first, but "she worked it out" soon after being connected to a machine. Avery said the little girl also had low blood sugar, but that was also resolved.
“She’s a little fighter,” Avery said. “She was determined to make it into this world and she’s doing great.”
Once everything was under control, Tyler went out to purchase two car seats.
“I have to buy one more of everything,” he said.
Because the Karnses did not want to know the sex of what they had thought would be one child, some of their gifts included both boys' and girls' clothing.
“Now I won’t have to take anything back,” Avery said.
Avery said she didn’t show any indications of being pregnant with twins.
“I was not a high-risk pregnancy,” she said. “We never (heard) another heartbeat. I never measured largely for twins.”
Tyler said it’s been a confusing week, but “I was so happy that everyone was OK.”
“My pastor described it as 'joyful chaos,'” he added.