Spinning & Dyeing Yarn book - Available for Kindle!

Happy Day!  You can now purchase my book Spinning and Dyeing Yarn for Kindle!  Here is a link to purchase on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/SPINNING-DYEING-YARN-Martineau-Ashley-ebook/dp/B00PKJS3JG/

When it comes to yarn, fiber lovers know that spinning and dying go hand in hand. Yet many books on the yarn craft cover only one topic or the other. In Spinning and Dyeing Yarn, fiber artist Ashley Martineau covers both subjects with rich, illustrative detail and step-by-step tutorials. Simply put, this book a must have for fiber enthusiasts of all levels

The Birth of Josephine Lucy

At the doctor on 12/18/14

I miss being pregnant… again.  I realized the night we brought Josephine home that I would probably always miss being pregnant, and even after our last child is born I will still miss being pregnant and that will need to be okay.  I love anticipating things and looking forward, dreaming and hoping and planning.  Pregnancy is full of really fun anticipation moments in a short 9 months.  Announcing the pregnancy to family, finding out the gender, picking a name, listening to the heart beat, feeling the baby grow, thinking about the future as a family, going to the hospital...  I love being pregnant so much I was hoping to go well overdue this time around, just to have more time with her safe and cozy within me.

This pregnancy went well overall.  I processed a lot of postpartum grief from Sam's birth in my last trimester as forgotten memories floated to the surface and I remembered the pain and stress of his birth.  But thru it all I was grateful for that experience in my life, it made me a better mother.  It broke my heart in all the right areas (pride, planning, stubbornness) to prepare me for parenthood.  God knew exactly what I needed.

Besides a preeclampsia scare around week 35/36 where I got sick and couldn't eat or drink, I felt very healthy.  I gained 25 pounds (compare that to 60+ with Sam, due to preeclampsia) and even at week 39 I couldn't believe I was full term.  I'd look down at my belly and think it was impossible for a baby to be done growing in there.  Surely I would be pregnant, and very happily pregnant, until February.

I was excited for Josephine to choose her own birthday.  December 16th came and went, and she decided not to share a birthday with Brian.  December 18th, my official due date, came and went.  I went to the Doctor on my due date and she asked if I wanted to be checked for progress, and I said no.  I felt proud to have made it to my due date and still be pregnant.  Every day past my due date was a bonus.  I thought a December 21st baby would be cool, a solstice baby, a bringer of light.  Josephine Lucy means "God May Increase Light" so to be born on solstice would be really neat, the longest night of the year - a festival of light.  If not the 21st, then I wanted her to be born on the 23rd - my Grandma Lucy's 80th birthday.  So she could share a birthday with her namesake.

But she chose her own birthday, and this is how it happened from my point of view.  Written with a lot of humor, a touch of sarcasm, and perhaps a bit of postpartum amnesia.  

The Birth of Josephine Lucy

(written 7 days post-partum)

Friday December 19th I texted my mom at 1:00pm and said, "We're cozy and comfortable.  I'm organizing a closet and blogging for craftsy today.  I doubt that I am going to have a baby today.  I still feel days away." 

For dinner I was starving.  I told Brian I wanted pizza and chocolate.  So he picked up both and I ate 4 huge slices and downed about 20 chocolates while I folded laundry.  I just wanted calories, and I didn't care what kind.  I ignored the mild contractions that I had been feeling, and labeled them as Braxton Hicks.  "If they don't really hurt, they aren't real" I told myself.  As the evening went on, they started getting more distracting.  "I am going to time some contractions tonight, for science" I told Brian.  I got out my smart phone and started timing around 5:45.  Here is my chart:

Minutes Apart

At 7:00pm I texted my mom, "Some contractions tonight, waiting to see if they stick around."

10:39* missed the next one

I read the paper that the hospital had given me on when to call.  The paper said to look for contractions in a noticeable pattern (about 6-8 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, for an hour).  Looking at the chart above that night, I didn't see a pattern.  And I didn't want to show up to the hospital without a pattern and have them say, "Why are you even here, didn't you read the instructions we gave you?  You don't have a pattern.  You are patternless.  You have failed to arrive at the appropriate time, you are one of those women aren't you?"  I don't know why these are the conversations I have with people in my head, but I have a complex where I'm always anticipating getting in trouble for something I didn't know I was doing wrong.  Now that I look at the chart above, I realize I was on a countdown.  A really fast countdown.

Sam "helping" by imitating my laboring positions
I called my inlaws to have them start driving the 40 minutes to our house.  I knew that it would take us about 30 minutes to get to the hospital.  As the contractions came I paced back and forth thru the house and leaned up against the walls and breathed deeply into my belly.  I swayed my hips and moaned and panted.  I never felt out of control, in fact I was in total denial.  I was not in labor.  I did not feel like I was in labor.  I wasn't making any progress.  Besides, my labor wasn't in a pattern yet.  This was just practice.

At 9:00pm I texted my mom, "Moving quickly."


I tried to labor on my hands and knees, which was impossible.  Sitting on the birthing ball was impossible.  Anything that bent my legs or hips was impossible.  I told Brian, "I cannot sit in the front seat on the way to the hospital.  I need you to make me a nest in the cargo area.  I don't care if it's illegal, I absolutely cannot sit down for 30 minutes."  Brian jumped into action, ripped the shower curtain from the bar, grabbed an old quilt and two couch cushions and built a nest for me in the back.  He also threw a towel in there just in case things got messy.  Mister Prepared. 

My labor nest in the back of the car.
At this point I got into the shower and swayed and let the water distract me from the surges.  I leaned on the back of the shower and let the water run down my back.  That felt really good.  A big contraction hit and I grabbed the bar of the shower and breathed "Peace…peace…peace…" thru it while focusing on keeping my pelvic floor relaxed.  A tiny voice in my head rang like a bell in an elevator "5 centimeters" but I denied it.  I told myself, "This is nothing. When I get to the hospital I'm going to be 2.  Maybe 3.  This is nothing."

I got out of the shower and braided my hair, swaying thru contractions like a hula dancer.  I got dressed.  I leaned against walls, panted, and groaned.  Brian put our bags in the car and put Sam thru his bedtime routine.  Things started getting intense, like back to back, and I started worrying that I was farther along in this labor than I thought.  I remember telling Brian as he held me thru one contraction, "This is like…work."

Sam went right to bed around 9:30, and right before 10pm Larry and Rosalie arrived.  They were excited and bright eyed as they felt the energy of the house - a baby is coming soon!  I paced the house, taking sips from my water bottle, and Brian told them how things were going.  A big contraction hit and I snapped my fingers and Brian jumped up to hold me thru it.  I moaned and hung from his neck and swayed my hips.  I heard Brian say, "It's okay, she's okay" to his parents who were silent.  When the contraction ended I said, "We need to go, we just need to go."  Rosalie excitedly asked, "Are you still five minutes apart?"  "NO" I said seriously, "I'm like two.  Or one.  Just pray, please pray, we get to the hospital in time for an epidural."  We left and went to the car.

I waddled slowly across the parking lot, wimpering while my body worked.  Brian opened the cargo door of the SUV and I looked and realized there was no way I could stretch out my legs in the back of the car and the next 30 minutes were going to be very painful.  I turned to him and blubbered like a child, "I can't get in there!  It's a trap!" and another contraction hit.  Brian said seriously, "Ashley we need to go, the sooner you get in, the sooner we get to the hospital." and I blubbered and climbed in and positioned myself knees to chest (the Ideal Position for getting baby positioned for birth that I had seen on pinterest!) and I felt Brian pull out and start driving.

At this point, unable to move or walk, I just had to deal.  And I'm pretty sure, at this point, I hit transition.  I had my hypnobabies tracks on my phone with headphones and roared like a lion.  Like, really, really loud.  I gave into the sensations running thru me, a river of power rising higher and higher.  I let my voice be louder than the roaring of that river.  As the contraction would peak, I would roar lower and lower.  I felt Brian pull onto the highway and the car pick up speed.  Contractions were coming maybe 15 seconds apart and between each one I'd take a big gulp of water and pray.  My prayers shortly had a theme: "please let us get to the hospital in time."  I felt Brian speed up to pass a car, change lanes, and drive faster.

My right brain roared and bellowed like a primal animal and my left brain reminded myself to keep my hands relaxed, my face relaxed, my pelvic floor relaxed.  I shouted to Brian to open a window to get me some fresh air.  He opened all four windows and I found myself in a tornado and I started yelling, "NOT THAT MUCH AIR!"  I love that he did that.  Even in labor I thought it was funny.

A couple minutes later I felt my body start to experiment with pushing and that little elevator bell in my head dinged, "8 centimeters!"  I popped my head over the back of the cargo area and yelled, "BRIAN WHERE ARE WE!?" and he yelled back, "6 miles from the hospital!" and I said, "Because I am feeling pushy!" and I went back down on my hands and knees and begged God to give us more time.  I knew if I was in the front seat she'd be born, just from gravity.  Having my behind up in the air was working in our favor.  In two more contractions we flew off the highway exit and into the handicapped spot at the ER.  Brian told me later that he was disappointed that we didn't get pulled over, just to add to the story.

Brian pulled open the cargo door and tore my roaring body out of the back of the car.  He half carried me into the hospital while I blubbered something I don't remember.  I walked into the ER and the girl at the front desk looked at me and her eyes got huge and she ran to get a wheelchair.  Two other nurses asked, "How far apart are your contractions?"  I whimpered, "They aren't!!" they asked, "Have you been timing them!?" I cried, "I CAN'T!" and the wheelchair arrived and they put me in it.  The girl ran ahead and Brian followed her, pushing me, while I squealed like a banshee down the hospital corridors.  I remember that moment and thinking to myself, "What is this, a movie!?"

Brian pulled into the delivery room and I was lifted out of the wheelchair.  I started crying tears of relief as I threw my arms around his shoulders.  WE MADE IT.  I had never been so relieved to be in a hospital in my entire life.  That room was like heaven to me. 

"I WANT AN EPIDURAL!" I demanded.  A bossy nurse with a very thick accent asked me a question I can't remember. I answered it.  Then she asked the same question again.  I glared at her and repeated the same answer and decided she was not my favorite person. She was very dictatorial. A young blonde nurse in the back of the room was ripping open supplies and the midwife Elizabeth came in and took charge of the room.

Between contractions the bossy nurse and Brian removed all my clothes in less than 2 seconds and put a hospital gown on me.  A voice in the very very back of my head made a funny joke about how that was the fastest my husband ever undressed me.  Then another contraction hit and my humor was gone.

Bossy nurse told me to lie on the bed so they could check me and get a reading on baby.  I put my hands on the bed and started to blubber, going on my back was the last thing I could ever physically do.  She commanded me, "Lie on the bed so we can check your baby!" and I looked at her and said, "You are asking me to do a REALLY PAINFUL thing and I don't want to do it!" and she then offered for me to get on my hands and knees and I said, "Okay" and got on the bed and held onto the headboard as if I was on a roller coaster. 

She got a quick reading on baby's heartbeat and the midwife told me I had to get on my back for her to check my progress.  I whimpered and blubbered and Brian spoke soothing words into my ear.  They flipped me over in the milliseconds between contractions and I breathed deep while the midwife checked me.  Then I felt my water break.  "Nine centimeters" she told me.  "YOU BROKE MY WATER!" I accused her.  "It broke when I checked you" she calmly said.  "The next couple contractions are going to get very intense, but you will see your baby soon!" "YOU ARE ALL EVIL!" I squealed, the next contraction hit me like a freight train and I rolled over to my side and grabbed Brian's hand and squeezed it hard.  I knew it was too late for an epidural.  Too late.  This baby was going to be drug free.

Bossy nurse said something I couldn't understand.  "What!?" I snapped at her.  "I need to get your IV in, but I cannot hit a moving target" she said.  I glared at her.  A moving target?  Did she honestly think she had time to get an IV in, start fluids, call the anesthesiologist, wait for the anesthesiologist, get me sitting up, and have him place a needle in my spine before this baby was born?  "You've got to work with MEEEEEeeeee…" my argument turned into a scream as I curled into a ball for another contraction.  I felt my body push, and I instinctively whipped myself back onto my hands and knees.  "OKAY" I commanded the room, "WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR DRUGS.  WHAT'S THE PLAN?"  The midwife cheered sweetly, "Just a couple more contractions and you'll push your baby out and we'll be done!" 

At that point I felt the elevator in my head open up to the top floor and ding "ten centimeters!" and I felt like there was a black hole from outer space channeling thru my body, like the birth of a star.  Rushing, roaring energy surging thru me unlike anything on earth.  The amount of power that was connecting me to creation in that moment was unreal, and lasted only a split second before I was back on earth in another contraction.  My body instinctively pushed hard and a tiny logical voice in the back of my head (that voice that's always taking notes "for science") said that when doctors tell women not to push they are idiots and should have their licenses revoked.  Are you kidding me.

"Oh she has blonde hair!" the blonde nurse cheered.  At that point Brian realized where we were in this birth.  The finish line.  I panted on the bed and looked at him and said, "Brian pray!" and he started praying but my next scream drowned him out. I grabbed his hand and he put his face next to mine and said gently and calmly, "Good, you're doing it, you're so strong, good good good. Squeeze my hand as hard as you can. Squeeze Harder. Good.  You're doing this."  Bossy nurse jumped between us and said, "Give her just one finger, or she'll break your hand" she took his hand from mine and put one of his fingers in my hand.  I had just about had it with her.

My body pushed hard thru the next contraction and when it ended the midwife said, "Ashley I need you to lie on your side to prevent tearing."  This was one of the things I was worried about, and having her be aware of it and protect my body was very comforting to me and made me feel safe.  I obediently rolled onto my side.

"Okay Ashley, your baby will be born in the next contraction, I need you to do little gentle pushes" the midwife said. This was the part I was afraid of.  This was the part I had wanted an epidural for.  That whole "when the baby comes out" part.  I breathed deeply and the contraction hit and I screamed and gave into all the pain, all the sensation, everything my body needed to do.  I felt intense searing pain as the midwife quickly and expertly stretched my body around the baby's head and rotated her shoulders out and a dripping crying slimy naked ball of hot pink was placed onto my chest. 

11:06pm.  17 minutes after we walked into the doors of the ER.

I looked at Brian in shock.  "What is going on?" I said.  He laughed and I shook my head in disbelief as I looked at this blonde fuzzy hot pink crying baby in my arms who, I was still convinced, was going to be born after winter solstice.  It was a dream.  I would wake up pregnant tomorrow and say, "Brian I had this crazy dream that I gave birth like in a movie drug-free screaming down the hallway of the hospital."

Birth selfie.
Bossy nurse asked, "Do you want to see the placenta?"  She lifted it up and showed me the inside and outside.  She flipped it over and showed me the "Tree of Life" where the cord had connected.  "Looking at this placenta, your baby will have a very long and happy life" she predicted.  The tiny sarcastic voice in the back of my head joked, "Oh good!  My bossy nurse is also a fortune teller!  I should ask if there's a Ouija board under my bed for her to check too." 

Brian says I become "unfiltered Ashley" when I'm having babies.

After a long time of her on my chest crying and me shaking my head in shock, they asked if I was ready to have her weighed.  So far this birth had gone the absolute opposite of Sam's.  I was ready to find out her weight, so I handed her off to the blonde nurse who lifted her up and said, "Any guesses?" and I guessed 7 pounds 6 ounces and everyone else in the room guessed bigger.  She was 7 pounds 5 ounces, I was the closest.  Brian went over and took some pictures on his phone.  Her Apgar scores were 9 and 9 "The highest we could give her!" the blonde nurse cheered. 

Minutes old.
My skin felt like it was on fire.  All my nerves were turned on hot. My entire body was shaking.  "Is this normal?" I asked as I trembled.  "Completely normal" the midwife said.  Bossy nurse took a blue rubber glove and looked at me and said, "I am going to clean you very gently" while she snapped the glove over her hand.  This was the last straw.  After being bossed around, not listened to, called 'a moving target', my hand ripped from my husband's, and a placenta fortune, I was done with her.  I still feel bad for turning to her in that moment and out of my unfiltered mouth I scolded her "No you are not!  I don't believe anything you say!  You're terrifying!"  Brian said he saw her eyes well up with tears.  I didn't see this, but I did feel her scrub my thighs with a hospital rag which felt like she was scrubbing a third degree burn.

I had prayed for the right team of people to be there when Josephine was born.  And shortly after bossy nurse came up to me and said it was the end of her shift.  I looked her in the eyes and took her hands and said, "I am so sorry for saying those mean things to you.  It's been a really crazy couple of hours.  I wasn't thinking clearly.  I'm sorry."  She smiled and said that I had made her shift end on a really exciting note.  When she left I told the midwife and the blonde nurse how guilty I felt about snapping at her.  "Oh don't worry about it!" they said "We've had far worse things said in this room!"

Brian gave me a kiss and said, "Well, I'm going to move the car."  I had forgotten he had parked in a handicap spot in front of the hospital.  I told the nurse, "They won't tow our car will they?!" "Oh no!" she confidently replied.  "Well, we're going to go get your paperwork now" she said and everyone left and room and Josephine and I were alone. 

I looked into my daughter's round pink cheeky face.  She was alert, expectant, looking right back at me.  I said solemnly, "Do you want to try breastfeeding?"  She smacked her lips.  I sighed and told myself, "If it doesn't work it's okay, I'm not a failure, this is just an experiment" and I brought her to my breast.  She clamped on right away and started sucking.  I raised my eyebrow at her and looked around the empty room. "I think we figured it out" I whispered to her, "Don't tell anyone, it will be our secret."

The nurses returned with a lady to complete paperwork on the computer.  She looked at me, surprised, and said, "Oh!  She's nursing already!" and turned on the computer and went thru the question process.  After that was done I was given a clean gown and went to the restroom.  When they opened the door I saw the spacious tub in the corner.  "Oh you guys gave me a tub room just like I wanted!" I cheered. 

Standing up an hour after giving birth was bizarre, everything was going so quickly.  I remember looking at my arms and wondering where my IVs were.  The blonde nurse swaddled Josephine up and put a little cream colored hat on her, which I loved.  I held her as they wheeled me down the dark hallway to a postpartum room.  It was about 2:00am. 

Proud dad.
And that's her story.

She is healthy and has a huge appetite.  She gets a little bossy when her meals aren't ready when she is.  She listens attentively to my voice and wants to be held all the time.  She is the opposite of her brother, and her birth was an opposite experience.  I wouldn't say it's a "healing" birth because I feel like I needed my crazy experience with Sam to bond the two of us together and to teach me some lessons to be a better parent.  I believe that every birth is beautiful and full of lessons to take to heart.

It was a genuinely fun experience, one I never thought I'd have, one in my secret heart I wanted to have even though I doubted that I could because of my previous medical history.  Being thrown into that situation taught me how strong I was, and looking back I am glad I got to experience it.

Our family of four!