She’s here, she’s finally here! Little Lucy Marie Cipoletti was born on the most beautiful day of the year, a sunny and warm Saturday, May 2,2020, weighing 7.3LBS and 20.3 inches long. The emotions and experiences are hard to put into words. If carrying and growing life for nine months isn’t transformative enough, then giving birth will absolutely have that effect on you.
From day one of wanting to conceive, I’ve always owned the belief of trusting my body and trusting the timing of my life. I’ve held faith that my body would do what it was supposed to do when the timing was right. Becoming pregnant was something I’ve always dreamed of but to be honest with you, scared me a little. I never really came across positive birth stories, only ones that warned of labor and delivery perils. Each labor is different, just as every pregnancy is different and I think it’s incredibly important for all stories to be shared. My story is deeply personal and I’m choosing to share in hopes to encourage pregnancy optimism through my positive birthing experience.
A Late Little Lucy…
The last month of pregnancy seemed to drag on, as I’m sure it does for everyone. Lucy’s due date came and went, and I kept telling myself, in true Taurus fashion, she will arrive when she’s ready. Her daddy has these instinctive intuitions about things, he’d confidently tell me, “she’s coming on May 1st.” So I sat back, ate my dates, sipped my raspberry leaf tea, and nested for a few more days.
It was the night of April 30th, Thursday night when we were sitting in bed watching a movie, and suddenly a strong Braxton Hicks contraction came on. So I got onto my yoga ball and bounced around a bit. Something felt different though about this contraction; it was paired with strong period-like cramps in my lower back. I was up, and down all night being woken up from contractions here and there. Is this it I’d ask myself? Is this pre-labor? I hardly slept a wink. I still don’t know if it was from the excitement of feeling like it was happening or the contractions, either way, I felt alive with anticipation.
I had my final doctor’s appointment that Friday morning, May 1st, at 9AM, so we were up early and ready to go. I couldn’t wait to tell her what was happening the night before. I was 60% effaced and slightly dilated. “This could take days,” she said, “but this seems like the beginning!”
I hopped in the car, feeling so hopeful. Would it be today? Tomorrow? Sunday? Freddie and I spent the day between shooting a few final pregnancy photos and laying on the couch, giving Margo and each other extra love. I started timing the contractions Thursday night, and by around 5PM, they’d become longer, closer together, and stronger than the one before. We made a spicy bone broth soup for dinner, and as we’d joke before each meal the past few weeks, Freddie would look at me and say, “is tonight the night?” To which I’d respond, “our last supper!” Little did I know…
I text Gayle, my Doula, at 11:46PM on May 1st and said;
“Hiiiiii can you check in really quick? Getting a lot of action over here and want to talk through what I’m feeling”
She instructed me to get into a warm bath, light a candle, relax, and focus into what my body was about to go through. Baby was moving around between each contraction, so I held my belly lovingly, cherishing these last moments with my pregnant body that I came to love so much. I told her how ready I was to meet her, and she could come as soon as she was ready.
As soon as I got out of the tub, the contractions started coming on stronger. Freddie and Margo kept looking at me from the bed as I sat on my yoga ball in the bedroom. I could feel them both thinking the same thing as I was, “this is happening.” But was it really? I didn’t know until I noticed I had lost my mucus plug, “it’s happening!” I screamed from the bathroom! Freddie jumped into action, grabbed the list of final things that needed to be packed up as I sat and let things progress a bit more. The tears and emotions were so strong. I started to get the shakes as each contraction came on. I called my doctor, told her it was time, and she said, “I’ll see you soon!” I can’t tell you the excitement Freddie and I were feeling!
We got into the car around 3:00AM and proceeded to our usual route to get into Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel. However, as we approached, it was very obvious by the cones, flashing lights and police cars that the tunnel was closed and under construction during off-hours. “REMAIN CALM” is all I could think or say. Laughing out loud right now at how Freddie championed the whole situation, pulling up as close as he could to the cones, flashing his lights and honking his horn. The police came into the loudspeaker and literally said: “what are you doing.” Both of us in our N95 masks in the car, me in the back seat and Freddie in the front with the yoga ball, we must have been such a sight to see. The officer approached the car cautiously as Freddie screamed, “MY WIFE, SHE’S IN LABOR! We need to get through the tunnel to get to our hospital!” After flashing his light through the window confirming I was indeed in labor, the officer radioed in and asked if he could escort us through. Unfortunately, they were doing construction on both sides, and it wasn’t possible, so he offered to call us an ambulance (OMG the visuals that were going through my mind). We politely declined and jetted to the Lincon tunnel – another tunnel that brings you into Manhattan – after the officer confirmed it was open. We finally arrived to the city and then to Lennox Hill Hospital.
It was about 4:00AM, and the hospital was empty. We were both temperature checked at check-in, and I was admitted to triage where I was given a Covid test. I was the only person in triage which, as you can imagine, was very comforting given the current situation and the possibility of having to share that room with two other people. All of the nurses and staff were wearing masks and gloves. I truly felt safe.
With each contraction, I’d breathe deeply imagining a wave building and then crashing. I’d count in my head, knowing that I could do anything for one minute. Between squats and child’s pose on the bed, a doctor finally came to examine me. To my surprise, I was already 5CM dilated, and they were going to bring me to my labor and delivery room where I would meet Freddie. We texted our families and told them it was time to meet our little girl!
Freddie met me in the labor and delivery room, and we just held each other.
I think it’s important to pause here to reflect on the depth of coming together in that room for the first time. For so many weeks leading up to that moment, we were unsure if we were going to be able to be by each other’s side for the birth of our first born. The Covid pandemic caused a tremendous amount of turmoil and created uncertainty and doubt around what labor and delivery would look like for us – what our birth plan looked like. Not knowing if my husband and father of my baby would be able to be with me was truly gut-wrenching. In the moment that we came together in that room, all of that weight was lifted. We had made it.
We were laughing and joking, just giddy with excitement! Each time I’d look at his face, I was filled with such immense love. He was so ready to go, asking me what I needed, getting me prepped mentally and physically. He was truly my coach through this. Just as we had trained with our doula since she wasn’t allowed to be there. With her on text, we were a tight team of three ready to take on this labor with an insane amount of excitement and confidence.
With my labor meditation music playing, Freddie (literally) at my back massaging, we worked through each contraction. The nurses showed him how to read the monitor so he’d tell me when one was coming on, and would then count for me all while pushing on my lower back, holding the heating pad in place, wiping my face with a cold towel, and feeding me ice chips (oh and a popsicle to get my glucose levels up). I swear he had 8 hands. “It’s almost done,” he’d reassuringly tell me. All I could hear was his voice. It’s what got me through each contraction as they mounted.
Trusting my gut…
When the doctor arrived to examine me around 9AM, she said I was already 7CM dilated. I couldn’t believe I was already that far along and that I was working through each contraction, pain, and all. I consider myself to be pain intolerant, but this was a different kind of pain. I looked at it as a force that would bring me to my baby and knew it was worth the reward. As some of you may remember from me talking about, the Covid pandemic led me down a path of exploring alternative birthing plans and options; home birth vs hospital, drugs vs no drugs. This process (at 36 weeks pregnant mind you) allowed me to discover what it meant to get an epidural; side effects, the use of other drugs to speed up contractions, higher risk of c-section and the list goes on. Not to mention, the thought of a needle in my spine has always been genuinely terrifying to me. Way more terrifying than the idea of going through labor naturally. But I am not one to count anything out, and I remained open to the option that if I felt I needed it, I would get it.
So when the moment came, and the doctor asked me if I was ready for the anesthesiology to come with the epidural, I said I was. I wasn’t sure how much more intense the pain was going to get, and I felt I was hitting my pain threshold. By the time the anesthesiology got to the room, I asked for one last exam to see how dilated I was. 8CM’s the doctor said! I couldn’t help but think to myself, I’ve made it THIS FAR! I knew deep down it was about to get real AF if I didn’t get the epidural.
But with the doctor, two nurses, Freddie, and the anesthesiology all standing around me waiting for me to decide, I looked at my doctor and said, “final answer, I don’t want it.” You could cut the tension in the room with a knife. The warnings came on strong.
“It will get worse, and you might not be able to get it past 9CM”,
“there’s no going back”
“only 2% of our mama do this”
“this could be 5 more hours of contractions like this”
“are you sure your certain”
And so on, all questioning my choice. But I was steadfast in my decision. And with coach Freddie in my corner, I looked at him, and he supportingly said: “trust your gut.” I wanted to be clear. I didn’t know how the epidural would make me feel, I feared it would cloud my experience. I wanted to feel each contraction. I wanted the whole experience.
Freddie and I looked at each other, knowing how much more intense it was about to get. He kept telling me how proud of me he was and how strong I was. His words fueled my inner power and I pushed through each contraction as they became closer and closer. Stronger and longer.
This is where things get a bit blurry. After the doctor broke my water at 9CM, my contractions sped up without the help of any Pitocin. My body was doing what it was supposed to be doing and I was trusting it every second of the way. I was completely conscious, but I was also unable to communicate when I got to 10CM. I was between my ball on the bedside leaning over the bed, and doing cat-cow positions on the bed. The curling of my lower back into cow was literally the only position that would slightly relieve pain. There was little to no break between contractions. They came on stronger and stronger. Freddie’s voice was the only thing I could hear at this point, “Deep breath in through your nose and OOMMM out” he’d say as he’d make the sound with me. I am so emotional, just writing this. After ten years together, these were indeed our most intimate moments together. I was squeezing his hand so tight and gripping his leg as he stood beside me on my ball, reminding me to breathe.
I had moments of doubt, tears were streaming down my face, I wasn’t crying, but they were just coming. I kept telling myself to not feel this as pain, but a force that’s naturally bringing my baby into this world. At one point, my doctor said: “Jenny, tell me when you feel like you have to push, when you feel it in your bottom.” And when that moment came, she was ready to go like an athlete is prepared to compete! She seemingly stepped into the rink and started instructing the nurses then Freddie, then me.
With my knees pulled back, she told me to grab under my thighs and behind my knees, with my elbows wide. Freddie and the nurse were holding my feet.
“Ok, Jenny, with the next contraction, you’re going to take a deep breath, hold it and push while I count to 10, then release and do it again. We’re going to do this three times during each contraction until she’s here. Ok, Jenny? Do you hear me?”
I knew she was telling me something so important, I can’t even imagine what the look on my face must have been. In that moment, all I saw were her moving lips, and the only voice I could hear was Freddies, he just kept repeating what she was saying. And just like a break in storm clouds, this silence came over my body before we went into our first push. I became so clear and determined again. I knew I was so close!
I went through 3 rounds of 3 pushes, Freddie enthusiastically declaring after each push, “I can see her! She’s almost here,” gave me so much more confidence to keep pushing. Knowing it was working, and she was so close!
18 minutes later, my doctor screamed, “open your eyes” as I neared the last push, and that’s when I heard her cry as her little body was lifted to my chest. The pain was immediately replaced by a wave of emotion that I can only describe as euphoric. It was an out of body experience. I went from being in my body to being completely in my soul and heart as I clutched the life that we created, our daughter, to my chest. I was sobbing with happiness. Freddie kept saying, “you did it, Jenny, you did it” as we held each other and our little girl. Tears are streaming down my face right now as I write this, I never ever want to forget this feeling. It was the most divine moment of my entire life.
As I sit here in bed now with her cradled in my arms sleeping, and Freddie sleeping on the pillow right below her, I look down and see my whole world. We created her out of so much love. I never understood how sacred the creation of life was until I went through this. It was a deeply profound and spiritual experience I can only thank God for giving me.
Ever since I was a little girl, the name Lucy has always been at the top of my girls name list – it’s sweet yet strong, classic and elegant. You can imagine my surprise when I found out that Freddies two grandmothers we’re both named Lucy.
The meaning of Lucy is light, and light encompasses all that is pure, good, and holy. It’s a name that honors her Daddys Italian Heritage. They used to call Freddies grandma on his moms side St. Lucy because she lived so selflessly and loved her family so immensely – an attribute that Freddie strongly emulates with his own. I love hearing stories about her that we will one day share with our little Lucy.
Marie comes from her Godmother and auntie Kristin Marie. A beautiful soul who I’ve come to know and love as my sister over the past decade. Someone who’s shown me unconditional love and acceptance from day one. I only hope to raise our little Lucy as well as Laura and Fred – Freddies mom and dad – have with their two children. I fell in love with Freddie over a decade ago, but what I lovingly joke sealed the deal was how much I loved his family as well. Words can’t express what they each mean to me.
It’s an honor to be a Cipoletti and to bring another little Cipoletti into a family that’s considered me apart of theirs since day one. Lucy Marie Cipoletti, you come from a long line of thoughtful, passionate and kind hearted souls, and your name name is deeply symbolic of just that.