I know- I was busy in December. That means I still! have some Christmas gifts to finish up. Here are three that made it off the needles this month and I'm so glad they did! Both my mom and Aaron have wore them out so that makes it all worth the knitting! I mean, I have to do something while trapped under a sleeping baby 80% of the time, don't I?!
I had my year anniversary with these dreads on the first of this month. While, I was excited about that and them, I felt that change was calling.
I started dreading my hair in October of 2011. I meant to do it to be set apart, to let go of that physical control of my hair, and to learn from them. About two months after I put in my first set, I decided that I wanted to start over, wanting to watch the change that happens with natural dreads. I choose to let them dread up naturally for a number of reasons, like the fact that it is the least harsh on your hair, and that hair will dread up on it's own with time. Doing this method is why they are so loopy and unpredictable.
The last year has brought so much for me and my family and these dreads are carrying all of that with them. Aaron's three(!) different jobs, a stint of unemployment, us selling a ton of our stuff in preparation to move, then not moving and re-settling into our home, Judah's extremely tough pregnancy and subsequent tough labor and birth, and all of that life in between are tucked into those locks. It's time to let all of that go.
I've thought about cutting them all off, but that doesn't feel right to me. Brushing them out is proving to be long and hard, which is rather symbolic for what they/I have gone through. My mom is helping me brush just a few out every night, which is probably going to be routine for the next three weeks since there were over 50 of them the last time I counted. We started a few days ago and have brushed out a big total of 6 dreads. My hair is so soft, healthy, and long. I need more soft and healthy in my life!
I apologize in advance for the brain dump!! But here it is!
So, here goes: Braxton hicks contractions started before 30 weeks with this pregnancy. They came whenever I did too much and I was having regular, timeable bouts of them by 38 weeks. Two days after Thanksgiving, I had over 4 hours of intense contractions that came every 4-8 minutes. They fizzled out, but had me wondering if I was going to go the usual 42ish weeks like I had with the girls. Going off of my calculations like I did with the girls, my due date was December 3rd. I continued to have about 4 hours of early labor symptoms every other day or so from November 24th on up to the start of real labor. I was getting pretty anxious to have Judah by the end of November but thought that it would probably be another couple of weeks until we met. I had been having weekly visits with my midwife every Saturday, and on December 1st, I sure didn't think that that visit would be my last prenatal with her.
Monday, December 3rd was a really great day. I woke up feeling better than normal, not as achy as I had been. I also didn't have near as many achy contractions as I had been having in the weeks before. I had a friend and her little over for lunch and we actually got to hang out for a little bit. After they left, Elli was super snuggly and clingy to me. She even climbed up on my lap and fell asleep!! She doesn't do that very often and something in me knew that this would be her last nap on me as my baby. Since she is not a napper, she ended up staying up super late that night- until 11:30pm.
I went to bed then, too, only to be woken back up at 1am with contractions. (This is where I'm saying that labor started. Contractions never went away until I had Judah, almost 60 hours later.) They were pretty rhythmic, but it was so late and I was so tired that I tried to sleep through them. Well, I was able to sleep in little 8 minute increments for about two hours, since I was waking up with every contractions and had to breath through them. I got up at 3am, since it was getting to be too much while laying down with them. Aaron stayed asleep mostly through them, which was great since I really wanted to be alone through these. Contractions continued to come every 4-8 minutes apart and by the morning, I was having to moan through them. I thought for sure that he would be here by lunch time and was really loving laboring by myself.
Aaron had set up the pool early in the morning and I labored in there for about an hour before I got too uncomfortable. I also had called my midwife sometime early in the morning and she came over a few hours later to see how things we going.
(I have to add that I was doing everything I could think of to bring him down. We did side lying release on Tuesday and Wednesday, with almost every contraction I lifted my belly to position his head more on my cervix, I did leaning squats on the stairs, and stayed in a forward position as much as I could. I talked to him and my belly, telling him not to be afraid of coming down, and telling my body to open as a contraction would come. I also changed positions frequently, took showers, and stayed very hydrated.)
My midwife first came over during the late morning on Tuesday, December 4th. She took my vitals and listened to me have a few contractions. We decided that I needed to eat some real food, since I was running on low and hadn't eaten much of anything since the day before. I told her that I didn't feel like he was coming right this minute but that he was coming sometime very soon. I was definitely in active labor, but didn't need her to stay, so she left, telling me to call her as soon as I needed her to come over. I also had let my doula and birth photographer know that I was in active labor, just not wanting everyone to come over just yet. I continued to have contractions every 4-8 minutes apart, with them lasting a minute to a minute and a half each. At this point, my lower back was hurting the most, so I had my husband be on back pressure duty. After I ate some lunch, I decided to get back in the pool. As soon as I got in the pool, things started to feel different. I got really shaky and nauseous. I did end up throwing up everything that I had just eaten and decided to get back out. I called my MW back over since I thought for sure that I was transitioning. Her and her apprentice came over around 6pm. Things didn't really pick up or slow down after that. My doula came over around 10pm and at one point, I sounded like birth was going to happen pretty soon, because my midwives got all of their supplies out and set up. Sometime during the middle of the night I asked my MW to check me. She said I was very stretchy and that she could feel Judah's head, though it was still pretty high. I asked her to break my water, but she said that she couldn't get a grasp on it, because Judah's head was pressed up against my cervix. I accepted that and continued to labor on as I had been. My MW's would check his heart rate and he was always in the 150's. I ended up trying to sleep at some point early the next morning, but would wake up every couple minutes to moan through the contractions. They were still coming every 4-8 minutes apart.
Wednesday, December 5th, pretty much followed the same as Tuesday did. My midwives and doula left in the morning, after bunking out in the living room all night. We let the girls swim in the pool before we emptied it. (My mom had taken the girls over night and did so again Wednesday night. They were with her the whole time, mostly at her place, but throughout the day, they hung out a little upstairs here at home, too.) In the afternoon, Aaron and I went for a walk up to the park a few blocks away, and I would hang onto him whenever I had another contraction. When we got back, I called my midwife to ask her what to do. I felt stuck and wanted to just move- either back to not in labor, or in a more productive, intense labor. I was starting to loose energy and knew I wouldn't be able to rest in that state. I asked her about cramp bark and cohosh. She came over and we made some cramp bark tea first. I thought that the contractions might slow down with that, but all it did was make me nauseous. After that I started taking blue and black cohosh tinctures. They brought my contractions up to a steady 4 minutes apart, at least a minute long. I took the tinctures for a few hours, with nothing much changing. I felt like labor was picking up, but looking back, I think that was more me just getting more and more exhausted. I was starting to have a hard time getting on top of contractions and the contractions were starting to move down my right leg. It was almost like a charlie horse. At some point I gave my birth photographer the green light to come over. Later that night, after my midwives and doula came back, I asked my midwife to check me again. This was probably around midnight again, (sorry- foggy memory at this point!) Again, I was very stretchy, about an 8, and at about a +2 station. And again, I asked her to break my water. I really felt, and still somewhat do feel that if she would just break my water, I would have him faster. (My water was artificially ruptured during both of my other two labors, resulting in babies born a few hours later, so I thought breaking it would help bring him out sooner.) Again, I was told that J's head was pressed so much against my cervix that she couldn't grab the bag. By the time 4 am came, I was completely exhausted and wondering why my body wasn't letting go of this baby. I was very emotional and whenever a contraction would hit, I would start crying this high pitched, sad cry. I was done. I was scared why it was taking so long. I wanted to meet my baby, but more so, just wanted a break from the pain. I was worried that either Judah's cord was too short or that he was too big. (My second baby was a ten pounder- I was expecting a large baby.) After talking to my husband and midwife, I decided to go to the hospital. At this point, I had been in active labor for 51 hours!
(Thursday morning, December 6th:) As soon as we arrived at the hospital, my contractions slowed down to every 8 - 10 minutes apart. I knew in coming to the hospital meant that I was going to have some hoops to jump through. The first weird look I go was when I wanted to stay in my own clothes. The second was when I checked off a bunch of items on their consent forms. The nurse said she had never had anyone do that before. I went to the hospital to get some pain relief and also to check on Judah to make sure he wasn't too big and that his cord wasn't too short. The first thing they wanted to do was to check on Judah. I said that was fine so they hooked me up to the monitor to track his heart rate. After being connected to that, they wanted to check my cervix to make sure I was in active labor. After arguing about that, since my own mw had been checking me, I did consent to a nurse checking me. She said I was a 7 and at a 0 station. Not very surprising, since I had transferred. The doctor on call also said if he looked fine, then I could have a shot of something. Well, even though he looked fine with just monitoring his heart rate, that wasn't good enough and they wanted to monitor both his heart rate together with monitoring my contractions. That was a good 30 minutes of monitoring him before that we just had did for nothing! I was so sad about that- I just wanted some relief!! After monitoring him some more, I did get to have a shot of morphine that took the edge off for a whole 5 minutes. After the shot, the did give me an iv port, that way they could administer the meds and hook up an iv if needed. After about an hour, I was given a dose of fentanyl. The fentanyl was given to me right before six, which meant it was right before the shift change. The first doctor prescribed the fentanyl for once an hour as needed. About five minutes after I was given the fentanyl, the ultrasound tech came in. It was just when I was starting to feel some pain relief!! Of course that would happen, I thought. So, for the 45 minutes that the one shot lasted, I was not able to rest since I was having the ultrasound given to me. The good news was that Judah did not appear to be too big for me, though he was too far along to tell whether or not his cord was too short.
As soon as the ultrasound tech left, we got to meet the new doctor assigned to me. This woman came in telling me that I was going to kill my baby if I didn't do what she asked. She said she wouldn't give me any more meds because of Judah's heart rate. She was not happy that Judah's heart rate was dropping with contractions. It was dropping from the 150's to the 130's, and that is not something that is concerning! This doctor wanted to break my water and if in an hour my contractions hadn't picked back up, (they were coming only every ten minutes,) than she wanted to start pitocin. I told her that my contractions would pick back up if I got up and walked around. She then told me that I couldn't do that because they needed to monitor me continuously. I told her that I was going to have to walk around to get things moving. I said no to the pitocin and that I wanted to eat food. She (miraculously!) said okay to that, (although I was going to eat if I wanted to.) My midwives and I thought that if I ate some food, it would wake Judah up more on the monitors and that he would do what she wanted him to be doing, therefor allowing me to get the pain meds so I could just take a nap then have my baby.
Not two minutes after I drank some orange juice, Judah became very active and the monitor started going nuts. It was everything that this doctor had wanted to see. (She also told me that him not moving enough was going to give him cerebral palsy. I know...) When she came in about a half hour later, I pointed to the monitor and said see- he's doing exactly what you wanted. Now, can I have some meds?!?! Well, the look on her face said she was pissed, and she was. She still wanted to break my water, and I said I would think about it. She left and Aaron and my midwives all talked about it. No, I was not going to consent to pitocin, but yes, I would consent to my water being broken. (I was so relieved that it was going to be done!) We also thought, after it's broken, we can just head back home! I'll get the pain meds, and we'll be on our merry way. Yeah, not so much. As soon as the doctor broke my water, at 9:40am, a ton came out and it came out a little green. Yeah, not so great. And the meconium had been in there for quite some time, since it had completely mixed in with all of the water. My midwives said it wasn't too big of a deal, but I was a little freaked. The doctor then told me that the cord absolutely would have to be cut and he would have to be taken away from me so they could suction him right after birth. I asked her if they could do all of that on me, as I know they can bring the warmer over, and she said absolutely no way. So I asked to talk to the neonatologist just to be sure. We didn't see that doctor again.
The neonatologist was lovely. She was sincere and talked to me like I was a human. She showed me everything that they would have to do if in case Judah did aspirate. She also told me that no, he would not have to be suctioned if he came out crying. That was a huge relief to me. I silently prayed that he would. Things really picked up after my waters were broke and I had some food in me, surprise, surprise. Since there was meconium in the water, I decided against another round of the fentanyl, even though I desperately wanted it. It was just time to get him out.
Around 10am, the midwife on call came in to see how things were going. This happened to be a midwife of a client that I had doula'd for last year and I knew that she was also bad news. She was pretty shady then, and had done some not so great things to my client back then. She left as soon as she came in, and didn't even acknowledge me. Great, I thought, though I didn't mention any of that to my team until after I had Judah. Around 10:30 I got in the shower and that was really nice, though I couldn't handle contractions alone at that point. My back labor was out of control and I had to have someone or something pressing up on me throughout the entire contraction. So, I got out of the shower and labored next to the bed. I didn't put any clothes on either after that point, which looking back on, I must have looked insane: stark naked, with a henna'd belly and my giant mop of dreads on top of my head. I was also pretty much screaming through contractions at this point. My throat was sore for days after I had him. My last hour of labor was spent leaning up against the bed, while the nurse held the monitor in place and I squirted amniotic fluid all over her shoes as she knelt next to me. I would grab onto my midwives hands and we would do tug of war during a contraction. Aaron was in charge of my back labor. I was starting to feel that deep, big pressure that took me a few contractions to realize that it was his head that I was feeling so low.
(As I was reading through this one more time before I submitted this, I realized that I hadn't mentioned that I was pushing since some time on Wednesday. I wasn't pushing with every contraction, but more than not. I really tried to listen to my body, and was also trying to bring Judah down. It wasn't until I felt his head right there, that pushing got really effective. So I say that I pushed for over 24 hours, but REALLY pushed those last three or four pushes!)
Then, some time after noon, the nurse asked if she could check me. I (my have yelled,) told her no and went into another contraction. After that, I opened my eyes to see the hospital midwife come in with (what seemed to me to be,) 5 people with her. Immediately I knew I had to get Judah out, and that I didn't want her to touch my baby. It was that fight or flight instinct that came out. I yelled out that I needed to switch positions and jumped up on the bed. Thankfully, it was still upright, so I climbed on it backwards and grabbed the top for leverage. After one push, I yelled at Aaron to put pressure on my perineum for me. Everyone around me scramble for gloves. Aaron started pushing on my back, silly guy, so I yelled that I would just do it myself. After another push, Judah's head was out. One more push and I caught my baby. I untangled his cord that was wrapped around his leg and brought him up to my chest. He cried immediately and I just held him, not letting anyone see him. I was in mama bear mode with that midwife behind me. Judah was born at 12:15pm.
After a few minutes, (long enough to make sure he got most of his cord blood,) I finally turned around. I held Judah and he nursed right away, but about a half an hour after he was born, my placenta still wouldn't come out and the contractions I was having with it were just as bad as labor was. Aaron then cut Judah's cord and shortly after that, I asked the hospital midwife to leave, since she was creeping me out and trying to pull my placenta out before it was ready. After she left, I sat in bed for another hour and half trying to birth the placenta out. I was miserable and felt like I didn't get to bond with Judah. I was able to birth J's placenta two hours after he was born, when I got up and sat on the toilet to do it. That thing did not want to leave me!! After that, I feel like my birth high finally kicked in. The hospital staff left me alone, mostly, and then we got a new nurse who listened to me and didn't make a face when/if I refused something.
Judah saw a pediatrician for his newborn exam and while the doctor was very nice, also pulled the dead baby card on me for not consenting to the vitamin k shot. They also were concerned that we declined glucose testing on J for his large size. Judah was 8lbs, 7oz!! Large?!?! He was my smallest baby! That time, it was me looking at them like they were insane. Because I hadn't been tested for GBS and my status was unknown, the hospital wanted us to stay for 48 hours but we checked ourselves out a few hours after he was born. My midwife would be checking in on me and I was finally feeling pretty good so we decided to check ourselves out. Since neither the doctor nor the midwife cared to check in on me, leaving was actually pretty easy. After we go home that night, we had two full days of baby bliss, only to be woken up Saturday night with a fever. Combining all of my symptoms together sounded a lot like an infection, so we headed to the hospital, ( a different one, mind you.) I was admitted for endometritis and stayed in the hospital until Tuesday afternoon. After starting on some pretty heavy antibiotics that Sunday, Judah's little tummy has been a mess ever since. I think we are finally coming out of that, thanks to lots of patience, probiotics, my elimination diet, and colic drops.