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Tacoma midwife breaks two fingers, delivers baby, cooks for 16 on whirlwind Thanksgiving

Quite a Thanksgiving: Midwife runs triathlon, breaks fingers, delivers baby

"It was a busy day," said the self-effacing Rhonda DiCostanzo, a St. Joseph Medical Center midwife, who fell and broke her fingers at the finish line of a triathlon, then delivered a baby while waiting for her X-rays in the emergency room. It will
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"It was a busy day," said the self-effacing Rhonda DiCostanzo, a St. Joseph Medical Center midwife, who fell and broke her fingers at the finish line of a triathlon, then delivered a baby while waiting for her X-rays in the emergency room. It will

By 5 a.m., she was up making rolls for Thanksgiving dinner.

By 9 a.m., she had completed a triathlon.

And broken two fingers.

And delivered a baby.

That was Thursday morning for Rhonda DiCostanzo, a midwife at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma.

Hand wrapped, she retold the story in the warm living room of her light-blue, two-story house near Lincoln High School. She laughed often at the craziness of it all.

“Got my hand wrapped up, came home,” she said. Now, she added: “making Thanksgiving dinner.”

In the morning darkness — after tending to the rolls — Dicostanzo went to the Morgan Family YMCA to compete in the community center’s annual Turkey Triathlon. Triathlons are a hobby of hers, she said.

Swimming and biking inside the YMCA were first, followed by a 2-mile run around Tacoma Community College.

While crossing the finish line, she tripped on uneven ground and used her left hand to stop her fall.

Faced with mangled fingers, the left-handed DiCostanzo drove herself to the emergency room at St. Joe’s — where she has worked for 10 years.

While DiCostanzo sat in the ER, waiting for X-ray results, a woman in labor, Jessica Morales, rushed in around 8:50 a.m.

“So I just went over there and said, ‘I’m a midwife. I can help.’ ” DiCostanzo recalled.

Though it hurt “like a son of a gun,” she put a normal-size glove over her good hand and an extra large glove over the one with the broken fingers.

Then she went to work and, around 8:57 a.m., delivered the baby.

As DiCostanzo explained, Morales “pushed a couple times and the baby came out. And that was that.”

A baby boy, Heiven. Seven pounds, 4 ounces.

Morales and her son were doing well later in the day, according to Scott Thompson, a spokesman for the hospital.

Staff members from Labor and Delivery had been called to the ER, DiCostanzo said, but by the time they got there, the baby had been delivered.

“Her husband didn’t even make it,” she said. “He was parking the car.”

Thursday was Morales’ due date, Thompson said.

“I just don’t think she was expecting it to go quite this quickly,” he said.

Later in the afternoon, DiCostanzo, a Los Angeles native, was at home with her daughter Athena Brewer and two guests.

Despite the morning’s madness, dinner was still on. And DiCostanzo was cooking for 16.

Among the offerings — two smoked turkeys, Brussels sprouts, broiled yams, rolls, squash, cream peas and pumpkin pie.

Brewer was helping out more than normal, she said, though some of the food was prepared by her mother days before. DiCostanzo takes the week before Thanksgiving off work to do advance cooking and chores, Brewer said.

The holiday is special every year for DiCostanzo, because her birthday is Nov. 25. Growing up, her Thanksgivings had fancy food, but also presents.

She turns 57 on Friday.

“It’s my high holy day,” DiCostanzo said.

This Thanksgiving?

“That’s a busy day,” she said, “even for me.”

Walker Orenstein: 360-786-1826, @walkerorenstein

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