I met Amy and Jerry 3 and a half years ago, when they were pregnant with their daughter, Katherine. They were kind, funny, and educated.
While Amy ended up having an empowering experience with Katherine, it was because she fought for it. Her providers were insistent that she birth when they wanted her to and how they wanted her to. She overcame multiple hurdles and while she had the vaginal birth she had hoped for, she left with different feelings that what should have come along with her triumph.
After Katherine was born, we chatted about her switching providers, and who I would recommend going forward.
I was absolutely ecstatic when I received a text from Amy again in 2017 telling me she was freshly pregnant and wanted for me to again be their doula. I remember yelling to my husband, "The Rapone's are pregnant again!". He replied, "That's awesome!". (It was nice of him to be excited for them, even if he had no idea who they were.)
Amy this time had chosen With Women's Wellness as her provider. Throughout her pregnancy, they were super supportive of all of her wants and wishes, including allowing her a water birth if she so chose. Her previous provider had not allowed her to even labor in the tub, due to her having some extra "fluff" as I call it. There is so much size discrimination in the birth industry, even in the doula field, but I will get to that in another blog one day.
At the end of Amy's pregnancy, she was having starts and stops of pretty close and consistent contractions. This is SUPER normal for second time moms. Our bodies tend to do lots of prep work, prior to ever going into actual labor.
On Wednesday night, June 13th, Jerry texted me that Amy was having pretty consistent contractions and they weren't actually sure when they should call me over. I decided after a few hours to go check on them. We chatted for 45 minutes or so and then I suggested they try to go to sleep.
One of the reasons that I love this couple so much, is because of the way they love each other. The next morning Jerry texted me that Amy was sad and depressed, that labor had not started, and just wanted to sleep. He was looking for ways to help her.
On Sunday morning, June 17th, Jerry sent me another text, "Is being super tired a thing? I feel like she could sleep all day today." I told him that sometimes this happens before labor. Her body was trying to stack up on sleep, so that she was ready for labor. He texted me through out the day, giving me little updates and we both decided she was super close to labor, but that we should keep our mouths shut about it. We didn't want her to feel defeated again.
On Monday the 18th, I went to a scheduled induction of another a client. She had her baby at 6:04pm and at 7:21pm I received a text from Amy, that she had been having consistent contractions for 30 minutes and that they felt super intense. I called and talked to Jerry, and this was certainly it!
I left Hartford Hospital and made a mad dash to Manchester Memorial Hospital. They had decided to just head there, rather than waiting for me to get to their home. When I arrived they were waiting for me at the entrance. It was 7:54pm.
When I saw Amy I felt a bit better and took a deep breath. We had some time. They took Amy into triage to check her dilation and monitor her contractions. It was the first time I saw Amy have a very strong surge this labor and she said, "Oh balls!" to which Jerry replied, "They're in there, and they're trying to get out!" This time around, the Rapone's were expecting a baby boy.
At 8:54pm the nurse laid out the delivery table and did a room check, this includes making sure the oxygen line for the baby is working correctly. It began squealing so loud as she checked it and the 3 of us cracked up. During Amy's last birth, they realized there was an issue with the same air line. They sent in maintenance to fix it. It took them forever and they kept setting it off, all through the labor, including during transition. I remember thinking she was going to become a puma and attack the maintenance man!
A little while later Michelle joined us at the hospital. We laughed and chatted for a bit and Amy decided she wanted to get into the tub and Michelle asked to check her before we got in. We had been at the hospital for 2.5 hours or so and Amy had gone from 4cm to 7cm dilated. Great progress! Also, it was a fantastic time to hop into the tub.
A new nurse came on, her name was Taylor, and she began to check the tub room, and once again, the oxygen squealed loudly and she couldn't get it fixed!
Amy had a lot of relief from the contractions in the tub. She was super peaceful and managing them very well while chatting in between.
About an hour and a half later, Amy got out of the tub to empty her bladder, and then she stopped for a rest on Jerry. All of a sudden Jerry made a yelp, Amy had squeezed his buns for support! After the contraction was over, she said, "Sorry I grabbed your butt." We all erupted in laughter.
After a bit more time in the tub, Amy decided to get out of the tub and take a little rest. Amy said she had a lot of pressure in her bottom and she asked for a check.
She had gone from 7cm to 8cm in the last 2.5 hours. It was 1am by this time and Amy was getting tired. She asked for Michelle to break her water. The water was thick and filled with meconium. Michelle had little to know reaction, but this now meant that Amy wouldn't be able to birth in the water, based on hospital policies. I know she was bummed.
She was still uncomfortable, so we had her hop in the shower. Intermittently, Amy would complain about the pressure in her bottom, but when I asked if she had an urge to push she would say no. At 1:43 she got out of the shower, and she asked for check. She was still 8cm.
She was once again super disappointed. It was time for the tough talk. We had this talk once before in our relationship. She joked during this second pregnancy, how she despised me in that moment, during her daughters labor. I sat on the bedside with her and said, "You know I love you. I know you're getting super tired." She snarled a little and then she gave a vulnerable nod. "You have to stop resting and get vertical." She looked at me again and said "Ugh! I know! Fine!" I brought her over the back of a chair to lean on, something we had also done with her first and during the next two contractions had her sway her hips.
5 minutes after standing, she began to grunt and then make these very low sounds. It was 2am and Michelle sat on the floor, between Amy and the bed and said, "Do you want to deliver standing up?"
Amy replied, "I'm not moving so I guess so." Then she looked up and me and said in a whiny voice, "Why are you always right?". Then her body started pushing.
She wasn't ready. She looked at me with total fear and panic. This was a look I had never seen on Amy's face before. I put my face right up to hers and said, "Stay with it. You are so strong, you can do this. You are a badass. Climb that mountain." (the mountain reference was a reminder of a mantra she had created for this birth) Her face and eyes softened and then Amy began to actively push. At 2:04am, Desmond was earthside. He was covered in meconium and wasn't crying. Amy and I were relishing in what she just accomplished.
This chick had pushed her baby out standing bedside, with almost no assistance. She was a POWERHOUSE. She's probably one of the strongest women I know and I know a lot of strong women!
I looked over to Jerry who was focused on Desmond.
I put my hand on his shoulder and he reached up and grabbed it. It felt like an absolute eternity. He was floppy and not pinking up. He also had pretty low APGAR's. Then all of a sudden, a big and beautiful cry. Everyone smiled and I glanced over at Amy and her eyes welled up.
They placed Desmond on Amy's chest, and there it was. That familiar moment with Amy where she is instantly the most nurturing mother that has ever existed. Jerry stood next to her and their eyes both welled up and mine too.
He was perfect, the experience was perfect, and now their family was perfect too.
At their postpartum visit, Jerry said, "It was so much different this time. Having you and Michelle there in support of what Amy wanted every step of the way, really made this entire experience great. Thank you to both of you."
I will forever be thankful to feel like a little piece of the Rapone family myself. It's always an honor, but there's something so special about being there for the birth of all of someone's children. <3