Home Birth of Caliah


Caliah Christina Rodriguez


When I woke up at 5 am on February 5th and went to the kitchen to get something to eat, I experienced a feeling that I had become very familiar with and had come to accept more and more easily.  It was the feeling of knowing that I had gone through another night without labor starting and that I had another day ahead to try to stay busy and positive as we waited for our baby girl to choose her birthday.  It was the 17th morning since my estimated due date had come and gone and I had learned over those 17 days a great many lessons.  Although I had been prepared to go past my due date as I had suspicions it was miscalculated in the first place, that last month of pregnancy can play games with your emotions and there were some days where I felt downright frustrated and depressed.  A main theme of my pregnancy and birth preparations was to accept and embrace the will of the Lord, and this I had finally been able to do regarding the timing.  I was ready to accept however many more days it would take.  I went back to bed and started to formulate a plan in my mind for when my sisters would both have to work on Friday, two days from then, and I would need another option for who would help with my boys.  Then suddenly, interrupting my formulation of plans, I had a contraction that I could not mistake for anything but a real contraction. It was 5:26 am.  In the past week or two, I had had plenty of crampy, very mild like Braxton-Hicks contractions that I could try to wishfully think of as being the start of labor but I knew immediately that this is the type of contraction I remembered from my previous labor with my son.  I got my phone with my contraction-timing app and started keeping track.  The first couple were 7 or 6 mintues apart and then for the next 45 minutes they staying 2, 3, or 4 minutes apart and lasted between 40 seconds and a minute or so.  I was excited but I had also learned that we probably still had a ways to go so not to waste energy.  I woke up Juan and told him that we were probably going to have a baby today.  He gave his usual morning response of, “Ten more minutes?” but not before he smiled and said, “Really?”  I knew from before that I would need him to be rested so I didn’t mind him taking his ten minutes while I texted my midwife and sisters.  He didn’t sleep through those ten minutes like he usually would anyways and soon we were both up, tidying up the house, getting out the birth pool, and working on relaxing through contractions.  I told Krista, my midwife that the contractions were continuing to be 4-5 minutes apart although not necessarily gaining in intensity.  She decided to send the other midwife, Kathy, who lived a little bit closer and her assistant who she said would be there in 20 minutes.  I was surprised that everyone was coming so soon.  I had asked my sisters to come to be there to take care of our boys when they woke up and I let Mandy, who would be taking pictures know as well.  When they all immediately said they were on their way I started to get nervous thinking that I would be making them sit around my house all day waiting.  This couldn’t be happening this soon could it? I had to trust what the contractions were saying though…close and consistent.  Everyone got there sometime between 8 and 9 and the intensity of the contractions was increasing.  I was vaguely aware of the busyness around me as the midwives got all the supplies prepared and the others tended to the kids.  

Corbin, my almost two-year old son woke up around 8 and was there with me and Juan as I sat on their floor in our bedroom and leaned over and rocked on the ottoman during contractions.  Juan would try to give some relief on my hips when I contraction would come and Corbin soon caught on that that was also his cue to rub my back.  When I was make little moaning sounds he would copy me.  Although the idea of having my kids there for my labor and birth was probably wierd to some people when I told them, this was exactly why it was something that I quietly yearned for and was especially excited to have home birth where that was an option.  My sons are the number one people in my life right up there next to my husband.  As children, they know how to comfort me and love me better than anyone.  Their smiles and playful nature kept me grounded.  



We started filling the birth pool.  Even though Juan had turned the water heater up once I knew I was in labor that morning like the midwife had said to do, apparently it wasn’t in enough time and I was disappointed when I felt like I wanted to get in the pool soon and found that the water was luke warm.  I am the type that likes my bath hot in the first place so my desperate disappointment in the midst of labor sparked my midwife into action to get everyone with an extra hand busy boiling water on all four burners on the stove.  My sisters told me later that they were surprised at how busy they were during the whole time.  I am grateful that they were so willing to work their hineys off for me.  

I was still surprised and in a little bit of denial that my labor was really happening and that it was moving along the way that it was.  My labor with my previous baby had lasted for over two and a half days, starting and stopping some, and so I had prepared myself to have a labor approximately half that long this time…maybe a day and half.  So when I started to feel like I wanted to get in the pool I questioned whether I was babying out too early in labor.  I changed into a sports bra top and then had two very strong contractions where I felt like I wanted to just go into a deep squat and Juan had to use at least half of his might to hold me up.  I decided to get in the pool even though the temperature wasn’t near my liking and it wasn’t all the way full either.  This was around 9:15  It didn’t take away the pain but I now felt like it was so much more manageable.  I felt like I needed my legs to be far apart (hence the squatting), as if the baby was very low, and so I sat in the pool the way that a little kid sometimes does with both of my legs kneeling outward.  Soon I wanted to rest more so I laid back on the edge of the pool.  My son Conley woke up and when he saw the pool he had the biggest smile on his face.  He knew that his baby sister was coming soon…we had been talking about it for a month about how she would come out of my tummy in the swimming pool.  It was so great to see my son’s smiling face.  His excitement gave me a chance to be excited with him in between contractions.   


While I started to have some very intense, even transitional like contractions as a leaned back in the pool, Conley sat there with Juan and stroked my hair as Juan held my hand.  I must’ve started to be in a “laborland” like state because in between two contractions I asked where Conley was and they said, “He’s right here.” Sure enough, he was still there stroking my head.  He stayed completely engaged and excited for over an hour until his sister was born…unusual for a three-year-old.  I am so glad my sons were able to have this experience with us.  My husband always there to hold my hand was also just what I needed.  It was truly a family event.  As one of my friends noted, our daughter will enter this world with the support of her family around her, just as her family will be there to support her through her entire mortal life.    





While I labored there in the pool, my sisters continued to bring in pots of hot boiling water.  Even though the warmish water was presumably frustrating, I was also a blessing in disguise because each time they would pour in a hot pot, it was a little bit of pleasantness for me to enjoy through the tumult of the contractions…a little tender mercy.  

I feel that I handled the contractions in a very variable manner.  One contraction I would be able to relax and before I knew it was over and then the next contraction it felt unbearable and I was unable to focus and became overwhelmed by the intensity.  Every other contraction was like this it seemed.  The contractions that I feel that I handled to best were the ones in which I repeated to myself, “This contraction is so powerful and that is good.  It is doing its job.”  I embraced the powerful nature of the contraction.  My midwives helped me to do this too.  I remember when Shayna, the midwives assistant first got there, her being the first to arrive, she calmly watched me as I moaned a little through a contraction on my hands and knees.  Her comment was, “Yep, looks like those will get the job done.”  She mentioned this several times later on in labor as well, reminding me that the contractions were not without a purpose and they were doing a job and I was able to jump on board with that purpose with those reminders.  


While in the water leaning against the side of the pool, I soon started to sink down in order to more deeply relax.  So far down in fact that my hair was completely wet and the only thing really out of the water was my eyes, nose, and mouth.  My midwives made us laugh later on saying that they thought they were going to have to save me from drowning and do CPR on me if I went any lower.  My sister also said that I was very buoyant in the water and really just floated during contractions.  I never imagined my water birth being quite like this because the ones I’d seen were of women leaning over the side, kneeling/hands and knees, or just reclined back.  I feel like I naturally fully utilized the water for my relaxation advantage.  I can’t imagine birthing without water after this experience!  I loved the water.  In fact, when my son accidently pulled the plug on the inflatable pool and it started to deflate before my husband quickly and skillfully plugged it back in, I instantly and desperately said, “Oh, please don’t let that happen!” because the thought of having to get out of the water made me feel like I would die!


At this point I had one contraction that was very very long.  I asked my midwife why it wasn’t stopping.  She checked the baby’s heart tones just in case which were still great.  Apparently the long contraction was a sign of a new phase. The next one came with a very vague pushy feeling and the next one a little bit more.  I did not attempt to push at all though because one of my main goals for this labor was to have my body completely take the lead during the pushing.  In my previous labor, long story short, because of wanting to just be done at the end of a very long labor and then because of threats of going to get the vacuum extractor, I pushed before my body was ready and with a great deal of forced exertion which ended up in a pretty traumatic stage and a great deal of bruising and tearing.  So…this time around, I very much yearned to know what it meant when women use the words having to “bear down” or feeling an intense, uncontrollable need to push.  I am SO grateful to say that on the next contraction, I was suddenly pushing by no choice of my own…it was just happening.  She was coming!  I was still having a hard time believing that I was in labor in the first place, let alone pushing.  Within minutes she was already crowning, and I reached down and felt her hair.  The hardest part was when there was a very long break between contractions.  I wanted her to be out but I knew I had to wait and I kept thinking, “Why is the contraction not coming?”  My midwife said that her head would be born on the next contraction.  The contraction finally did come and with my body again doing the pushing completely on its own as I just allowed it to, her head and entire body her born in 2-3 short, quick pushes, just like that.  Apparently I was holding onto Juan’s hand and wouldn’t let go and the midwife was saying, “Juan, get over here and catch!”...surprised that she came out so quickly all of a sudden.  I opened my eyes and there was my little girl being handed up to me.  


 I believe the first thing I said was, “That was so easy! I can’t believe I’m done!” still unable to get over the fact that the labor I had anticipated for so long had started in the first place.  We did it!  She was born at 10:17 am, just short of five hours since my very first contraction.  The pushing phase was less than 15 minutes.  I had read many birth stories, some with short labors like this one, but I had never dared hope that I could have a short labor myself.  It definitely was very intense and difficult at times but I feel very blessed in that I feel that Heavenly Father made me go through everything that was necessary in order to bring this life into this world but nothing more than that.   
We're a family of five now!
 Conley, excited that his sister is here!


I believe that every birth is meant to teach us something in a highly memorable way.  This time, because my labor was so fast and I did not have time to really even think, the lessons came in those preceding weeks.  On one of those days when I was very down, I got the impression that I had no need to be in the state I was because I had so much to be grateful for.  Of course that is usually the case in any life situation…there is always something to stay smiling about.  This lesson taught by the Spirit was subtle but I acted upon and took some time that day to write down everything I could think of that I was thankful for.  Having a daughter is different from having a boy in that I am able to more closely relate to what it was like to grow up as a girl.  One of the things I want her to understand that took me all too long to figure out is to just be happy.  She has been so blessed from day one...she has won the lottery to be born into a family with a loving mother and father and where she will be taught the gospel.  We have so much to be grateful for.  Especially each other.  


Darci and the boys and their cousin Devri making Caliah a birthday cake!

 Getting her newborn exam.

Conley didn't want to leave her side.


Proud dad of a daughter!  She was 6 lbs. 11 oz. and 21 inches.



A few notes about this pregnancy and birth:

I drank “pregnancy tea” (red raspberry leaf and a few other herbs, compliments of Agape Birth Center) throughout my entire pregnancy, several cups a day during the last month, which is known to tone the uterus. Whenever my husband had his hot chocolate, I had my tea, even though I am a huge chocolate-anything lover.  In the end I believe it paid off by how effective my contractions were...yah!

I also took evening primrose oil for ripening the cervix for the last couple weeks.  On Monday, two days before the birth, I had gone in to see my midwife and finally decided to have a vaginal exam.  I had wanted to try to avoid any vaginal exams but in this case I seemed useful and necessary since I was past due.  It turned out to be very encouraging to find out that I was dilated to a 3 and very soft and stretchable to a 5.  In my previous pregnancy it had taken over two days to get to this point so I was very pleased to say the least. 

I developed a strong belief in meditation and the power of my mind and emotions during this pregnancy and particularly during the last month.  I purchased the Hypnobabies track “Come Out, Baby,” five or so days before she was born and I found it to be incredibly relaxing and empowering as I knew our birthing time was so eminent and I needed to release unwanted emotions and replace them with positive ones.  Of my three births, each one has built upon the last and I am amazed to see my personal growth through each.  My first birth was just about me enjoying the transformation into becoming a mom, despite all my na├»ve choices and beliefs.  My second birth was about becoming educated and feeling empowered by making my own choices.  This birth could be defined by my new found awareness of the psychological and spiritual aspect of birth.  Birth is a “spirit-mind-body” experience. 

Patience is a virtue...a virtue whose growth is promoted for almost any woman where pregnancy and birth is involved.  Going back in time a little bit, my mom called me around the first of January to tell me that her and my dad needed to plan a trip out of the country to take care of some of my dad’s health issues.  They were supposed to leave on the February 3rd.  Even though she wanted to be there to help me postpartum, she especially wanted make sure to be there for the birth, so she wanted to get my opinion on planning the trip.   Since this was two weeks after my due date, I told her that it was probably safe to go ahead and book it and she did.  As my due date came and went and February 3rd came closer and closer, my mom and I both struggled as we started to realize the there was the possibility of the baby not coming before she had to leave.  Without wanting to be overly intrusive of the natural start of labor, I started to try to everything I felt was in “my control” to help bring on labor including walking, reflexology/acupressure, nipple stimulation, evening primrose oil, mediation, and even a couple dosages of herbal tinctures.  On one of those mornings after being passed due for some time, feeling exhausted and depressed, I humbly realized that nothing that I was doing mattered…it was out my control.  And then I stopped being remorseful about it and again put it back in the Lord’s hands.  When labor finally did start on its own and I see how naturally and spontaneously it unfolded, I am in even more awe of the miracle of a woman's body and God's design for it to bring forth life...and in it's own time.  After all of my efforts, I could barely conjure up the slightest hint of uterine cramping.

My mom left on the 3rd as planned and our girl was born on the 5th.  We had a long talk before she left that left us both finally feeling at peace about the course things were going.  We had both prayed so intently and had tried to exercise the faith needed for my mom to be able to be there as planned.  But apparently God had a different plan and we learned first hand that God doesn't always answer our prayers the way we would like.  He does answer them though. This experience gave me the opportunity to reflect on how my mom (and my dad) have taught and loved me as a little girl and then when they were not be able to be with me during this pivotal life event but their influence was still present.  Someday I will have to do the same and let my daughter go, but I hope that my love and teachings are sufficient for when she spreads her own wings and flies. 
I spent considerable time during this pregnancy to try to prepare myself spiritual for this birth.  I believe that because we were choosing to have our baby at home and only the home compares to the temple is sacredness, that I was able to come closer to experiencing the spiritual potential for birth.   

I choose the scripture D& 84:88 as my “theme scripture”:

And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”

My husband’s mother passed away last year and she was very close with her grandchildren, especially one of her granddaughters, so I imagined that she was very close with our unborn daughter as well.  I imagined her as one of the angels that would be there with us at the birth as spoken of in this scripture.  I also thought of my great-grandmother, Nita, who died giving birth to my grandma.  I imagined that she would have a great interest in her posterity during childbearing, proud that they had the faith to go forward in a cause that she lost her life over.  I felt like she could also be my other angel.  When birthing time came and went, I realized after that it's swiftness hadn't even allowed me to take thought as to angels being present.  Since I had developed such a great faith in this previous to, it took some pondering about the outcome afterwards.  No, I have to admit that I did not consciously feel their presence during labor, but what I have determined is that the way that the overall birth unfolded is a miracle in itself that had to have been coordinated by angels.  These two angel grandmas were likely the ones encouraging me and those involved to do the things we did and think the things we thought.  So yes, I did have an angel attended birth.  How many other times do angels attend to our lives unnoticed?  I am grateful for the pondering I was able to do.  

And speaking of angels...I had many angels here on earth helping me...the most amazing birth team ever!  Special thanks to Kathy, Shayna, Krista, Dani, and Christine at Agape Birth Center (now called Selah Midwifery Center).  Midwives are most definitely angels in disguise.  

Birth team (minus Juan and Mandy)
Kathy

Thanks to my sisters, Alanna, Nicole and Darci, for their help during and after.  They are the best!  



I am ever grateful for Mandy (Mandy Jane Photography) for being there to take these amazing pictures and preserving these special memories.  I will cherish them and her forever!

Mandy and me.
I also need to give a shout out to Robyn and Jeff Allgood, our Bradley Method birth instructors.  They were very inspiring!

As another side note, this pregnancy I was not necessarily dreading, but not excited about the idea of breastfeeding again.  Consider that over the course of four years of marriage, I have been pregnant or breastfeeding or both for basically every day of it.  I am not complaining…it is a sacrifice that has brought many blessings.  But at the time I was only remembering the uncomfortable rock hard chest feeling and ever-leaked on clothing and bed sheets.  So a couple days after my daughter’s birth, I was surprised to hear myself thinking how much I enjoyed breastfeeding.  With two older children and a busy home with never ending toys to pick up, laundry to be done, and dishes to be washed, nursing my little girl has been my sanctuary.  I am the type that constantly tries to be busy in the first place so I am grateful for what breastfeeding has taught me about “being still” and enjoying the relationship we are forging. 


Every time I look at my little newborn girl, I am amazed and just think, “You are so beautiful!”  Family and friends come to visit and they eventually have to hand her back to me and leave, but I feel so grateful that I get to stay with her, now and forever.  She’s mine!  We are enjoying a wonderful 40-day babymoon, and each day cultivates more gratitude in me for my life and new life in it.    

7 comments:

  1. You have inspired me so much today. I cannot wait to be a mother. Thank you for being such an example of what it means to give birth and to be a mother. This is one of the most beautiful and sacred birth stories I have ever read. Thank you for sharing! <3

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    1. Thanks Brianna. When you share something personal like that it's great to know when it is received well and is able to inspire someone. I'm sure you know this because I have read your blog before and felt inspired too! Best wishes for you and Jared.

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  2. How beautiful! I had my two daughters in a birthing center, but you have me considering a home birth now. :) I'm glad it went so well!

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    1. Andrea, I was originally planning for the birth center but I changed my mind around the 6th month of pregnancy and I am really glad I did (even though I think I would have also had a great experience at the birthing center). I'd love for you to tell me about it when that time comes so I can send you positive birth vibes and be happy with you! Who would've thought back in Ecuador holding those little ones that we'd have stories of our own like this to tell?

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  3. Finally Sat down and read your birth story! I'm so happy it was such a great experience. You totally deserved it. What a great example.

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  4. You don't know me, but I just found your birth story through Selah's (Agape) website. I love reading birth stories so couldn't help but hop over to read yours. I feel like we are birthing sisters! I loved your beautiful story and as I read it I just kept finding so many similarities to what my experiences have been! When you described how each of your three births have built on each other and the lessons they have taught you, I felt like you had put into words my exact thoughts about what my three births and have been like for me. My first birth was the routine hospital birth, my second was at Agape Birth Center (I switched there at 33 weeks!, sweet Kathy was my midwife), and my third was a home birth just this past April. My third was also the birth that I discovered meditation! I actually met Mandy at a meditation retreat last year, how amazing that you were able to have her photograph your birth, her photography skills are phenomenal! Thank you for sharing your beautiful story, it reminds me that I need to write down my most recent birth story before my baby gets any older (he is already 5 months old!).

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    1. Lara - sorry it has taken me so long to reply but I am so glad you found your way to my blog and that it was inspiring to you! Thank you for taking the time to read it. It is sometimes difficult to find people who feel the way that I do about birth and "get" me. Yay for birthing sisters. Maybe we will meet someday. Are you part of the Idaho Birth Forum or Improving Birth of Idaho Falls on Facebook? Congrats on your littles as well :)

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