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Unforgettable Birth Stories

Meet Three of Idaho’s Newest Catholics

COURTESY PHOTO | COLTON MACHADO


By Lori Hadacek Chaplin

for the ICR


In late 2023, three Idaho baby girls entered the world earlier than expected, making memorable stories that their families will retell for generations. When Fallon Mathias’s birth pains progressed much quicker than she expected, her husband Andrew jumped into action. When Esmeralda Rodriguez was pregnant with twins, her blood pressure dropped precipitously. The fear in the back of her mind was the loss of her first child. She and her husband, Roman, have endured considerable suffering, though their faith in God was never shaken.


ANDREW AND FALLON MATHIAS

On the morning of Nov. 26, a heavily pregnant Fallon Mathias and her husband Andrew assumed the birth of their third child would happen later in the day. Baby Margaret (Maggie) had more immediate plans.



The Mathias children, Leo, Philomena and baby Maggie, who was delivered by their father at home.


They planned a home birth

In 2019, the couple married at St. John’s Cathedral in Boise, and in 2020, they welcomed their first child, Philomena. Her birth also offered plenty of drama.


“Philomena was crowning the whole drive to the birthing center,” says Andrew.


In 2021, the couple had a home birth with their second child, Leo, and they also planned a home birth for Margaret. “I just loved the experience, so I wanted another home birth with Maggie,” shared Fallon. “There’s great peace with a home birth and being in a familiar place.”


The Mathiases feel that birthing “a new precious soul” in one’s domestic church (a Christian term for a devoted family home) is a beautiful experience.


“There were moments in my labor when I would glance at my Mary statue or crucifix above our bed for quick mental prayer for everything to go well,” Fallon recalls. “I [also] had my Leo snuggle up in my arms.”


Like Fallon, a growing number of mothers are birthing at home. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, home births in the United States rose 12 percent from 2020 to 2021, counting 51,642 home births in 2021.


Sleeping through active labor

On Nov. 26, Fallon’s first contraction began at 3:30 a.m., but with no noticeable pattern. She was able to sleep through most of them.


“I figured if I can sleep through them, they’re obviously not that bad.”


At about 6:10 a.m., sensing Andrew was waking, she turned to him and said: “I’m having some contractions, but I’m just going to go back to sleep some more. I feel so tired,” Fallon remembers.


“It’s go-time”

Around 7:00 a.m., Fallon got up and went into the bathroom; suddenly, two consecutively hard contractions gripped her. She asked Andrew to call the midwives. Andrew had just hung up with the midwife when he heard Fallon say:


“Andrew! I’m pushing! She’s coming now!”


“I could tell from her breathing it was go-time,” he recalls.


Andrew quickly redialed the mid-wife and put her on speakerphone so that she could walk them through the delivery—which lasted six minutes. He helped Fallon while their two other kids, transfixed, stood in the bathroom doorway. Leo, who had been crying only a moment before, silently watched his younger sibling enter the world.


“I’m holding a towel, and then Fallon’s water breaks, and there’s a lot of meconium (baby’s first bowel movement), and blood comes out,” he recalled.


She’s not moving

Seeing the murky waters, Andrew felt fear wash over him. While still in utero, if the baby passes the meconium, she may aspirate the substance and die. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, about five to ten percent of newborns die when this happens.


“My mind went to a really dark spot because her waters weren’t clear,” he said. “And in my head, I kept thinking. ‘It’s a stillbirth.’”


Fallon added, “I couldn’t even tell he was freaking out. He acted very calm.”


With one push from Fallon, Maggie plopped into Andrew’s waiting arms. Still on speakerphone, the midwife asked, “Is she breathing? Is she okay?”


Andrew held Maggie, looking for signs of life, but her little body remained still.


“She’s not crying, and she’s not moving,” he told the midwife as the worst possible scenario played out in his mind.


“Oh, thank God.”

Suddenly, their baby started twitching and moving. Seeing Maggie come to life, Andrew exclaimed, “Oh, thank God!”


Breaking down, he handed Maggie to Fallon. Then, shortly after, the midwives showed up, confirming that the baby’s air passages were clear. The Mathiases and the midwives had a transport plan to St. Luke’s Hospital in case anything were to go wrong.


At peace

Fallon and Andrew credit their calmness during the birth to Fallon receiving a mother’s blessing. They also prayed the entire pregnancy to feel peaceful. And even though Maggie’s birth was a whirlwind, Fallon said she felt serene the whole time.


“I see birth as a beautiful and empowering feminine ‘superpower,’” she shared.


Andrew hoped to feel more mentally and emotionally present for Maggie’s delivery. Reflecting on Philomena’s and Leo’s births, Andrew felt like his mind had drifted.


“I told myself that this time around, I’d be very present,” he says. “But

I didn’t anticipate having to deliver her!”


COURTESY PHOTOS | LORI HADACEK CHAPLIN

Esmeralda and Roman Rodríguez holding their twin newborns Anna, left, and Elizabeth, right, as well as their daughter, Jimena, and son, Jose.


ROMAN AND ESMERALDA RODRÍGUEZ

Esmeralda Rodríguez, 30 weeks pregnant with twin girls, felt a little sick, so she went to the hospital for a checkup. Before she knew it, her blood pressure began spiking, and the nurses were racing around, administering medicine and wheeling in the ultrasound cart. They determined that Esmeralda had preeclampsia, a blood pressure condition that’s especially harmful to one’s unborn babies. Luckily, the ultrasound showed that the twins’ vitals looked good.


After receiving medications to lower her blood pressure, Esmeralda felt extremely ill. She wrapped her arms around herself as if to prevent her soul from leaving her body.

Esmeralda knew what dying felt like.


The loss of their first child

In 2018, when Esmeralda was eight months pregnant with her first child, she and her husband Roman found out that their baby had died in utero. The couple, parishioners at St. Paul’s in Nampa, had difficulty processing the news.


Roman remembers that he couldn’t stop thinking about how he had missed the last opportunity to speak to his unborn daughter. He had had a habit of perching his ear atop Esmeralda’s swollen belly every night to listen and to talk to their baby. Because the couple had a busy day, for the first time, they went to sleep without Roman telling his unborn daughter, “I love you.” Tragically, during the night, their baby passed away.

“I was broken,” Roman shares, wishing he had not gone to bed without speaking to his baby girl.


Hope for a miracle

The couple hoped and prayed that it was a mistake and God would make their baby’s heart beat. For a while, Esmeralda ignored the persistent calls from her doctors, needing time to think and pray. After attending morning Mass and receiving the Sacrament of Confession, the couple went to the hospital. The labor and delivery process was arduous, and Esmeralda’s life hung by a thread. She recalls thinking during the birth that she felt prepared to die but then thought of her husband.


“I remember not wanting to leave the world because I was worried about Roman,” she recalls. “When I came back [regained consciousness], I felt something [her soul] coming back into my body.”


Esmeralda learned later that she coded during the birth.


More Difficult Deliveries

Since the loss of their first baby, Isabele, the Rodriguezes have had two healthy children, Jose, 4, and Jimena, 2. Both were also complicated deliveries but resulted in healthy babies.


For the fourth time, Esmeralda faced a challenging pregnancy. After the preeclampsia diagnosis, the hospital admitted her in hopes that her doctors could get her twin babies to 32 week’s gestation. She was in the hospital for about a week when, on the evening of November 14, 2023, her doctor decided to induce labor because all the medication was damaging her organs.


Esmeralda’s labor progressed slowly, and one of the twins, Anna, was positioned breech for several hours. However, when Father Rob Cook (now Pastor: St. Joseph in Sandpoint) gave the expectant mother the Sacraments of the Anointing of the Sick and Holy Eucharist, she felt pressure around her belly.


“She was breech for a long time, but something happened when I received Jesus,” she shared.


When the nurse checked the ultra-sound, the baby was positioned head down. The couple felt that God had answered their prayers. After hours of labor, Esmeralda delivered her two babies.


However, Esmeralda wasn’t out of the woods because a problem with the placenta caused the loss of two liters of blood. Roman recalls Esmeralda’s hand going limp as he held it. Seeing the puddling blood and his wife slipping in and out of consciousness, he says, “I felt dizzy and helpless, but I asked God to help her, and I felt everything was going to be okay.”


And the Lord answered Roman’s prayers. Esmeralda has been slowly regaining her strength. Twins Anna and Elizabeth are thriving after three weeks in neonatal intensive care.


Courageous

These accounts remind us how brave women are in childbirth and also show us what a heroic husband looks like. Poised for action, prayerfully waiting, he stands supportively at his wife’s side, recalling good St. Joseph.


If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more like it, please consider buying a subscription to the Idaho Catholic Register. Your $20 yearly subscription also supports the work of the Diocese of Boise Communications Department, which includes not only the newspaper, but this website, social media posts and videos. You can subscribe here, or through your parish, or send a check to 1501 S. Federal Way, Boise, ID, 83705: or call 208-350-7554 to leave a credit card payment. Thank you, and God bless you.


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