Everything came together for the birth of Mila Rose Rubalcava.
Everything came together for the birth of Mila Rose Rubalcava. Born on Jan. 1, 2021, Mila was one of the first babies to be born in the spacious new Fudge Family Birthing Suites in Irvine.
Her mom, Ciara, gave birth without medication, under the guidance of a midwife and with the support of her father, Michael. A moment after her birth, Mila was nestled on her mom’s chest, receiving her first medical tests while resting in comfort and calm.
“It was the experience I wanted,” Ciara said. “I wanted to give birth in a hospital, in case something happened, but I also wanted a homelike experience, a relaxed environment. I was super excited when I found out about [Hoag’s new birthing suites.] I felt so lucky that the timing worked out, and that my midwifery team was moving to Hoag Irvine.”
Ciara knew she wanted a natural childbirth experience and was drawn to midwifery. When her midwife team at Orange Coast Women’s Medical Group told her that they’d begin practicing at Hoag’s new birthing suites, Ciara felt the stars had aligned.
The first-time mom was impressed by how Hoag balanced the feeling of homebirth with the medical expertise of the county’s most trusted hospital. During a “virtual grand opening” of the birthing suites, Ciara became intrigued by the possibility of using NurtureVR, a virtual reality platform for expectant, laboring and new mothers that was co-designed by Hoag physicians. Ciara imagined that she would use it to assist her in her labor, but Mila had other plans.
“I went to the virtual grand opening, so I saw all the exciting features, but, honestly, my labor was so short, I didn’t get to use very many of them,” she said. “I didn’t use the VR, or the birthing tub. I really liked that tub and was hoping to take advantage of it.”
What Ciara did get to experience, however, was a calm environment and compassionate care. After her water broke at home, Ciara and Michael rushed to Hoag Hospital Irvine and were met with a team that knew how to move quickly and competently, without seeming harried or rushed.
“The nursing staff was super welcoming, and my midwife team was already there,” she said. “They helped get my husband settled in; they helped me get changed into a gown and hooked me up to a monitor. They knew I was progressing fast, and they were moving quickly. But they kept the stress out of their voice. The way they spoke was very friendly, calm and positive.”
Ciara made use of the birthing stool, leaning over it in the shower before making her way to the hotel-linen clad bed to deliver.
“It really felt like a personalized experience,” Ciara said. “I wanted to do it all unmedicated, and there were definitely a few moments of self-doubt, but the nurses kept me strong.”
Three hours after Ciara and Michael had arrived, Mila joined the party.
“I loved that everything could happen in the room. They didn’t need to take her out to do any of her testing. They were able to do everything right there,” she said of the spacious suite. “It was so nice that she was able to get her Apgar score on me, skin to skin, and that she was with me the whole night. They were very communicative about the tests and allowing us to make our decisions about them. They checked in on us and really made sure we had everything we needed.”
Hoag also went out of its way to help the couple revel in the joyousness of the moment. They enjoyed “teatime” with china cups and saucers, and Hoag delivered a delicious three-course “celebration dinner” the night after Mila’s birth.
“It really felt special,” she said. “One of the walls of the suite was all window, and it opened to the garden. There was a beautiful sunrise the next morning, and we took a picture of Mila’s first sunrise.”
Hoag’s nurturing support continued after Mila went home. Ciara was able to access lactation help from Hoag’s lactation consultants and from the Pacify app, which new moms also have free access to after delivering at Hoag.
Because the Fudge Family Birthing Suites are the only hospital-based suites of their kind in Orange County, Ciara said she found herself explaining her plans a lot before Mila arrived. New and expectant moms in her social circle didn’t know much about the suites, but now her friends are intrigued.
“I have a lot of friends who are pregnant, and I tell them what a great experience it was,” she said. “I’m glad I chose the right place.”