Hunter's Birth Story

Let me just preface this well now novel, with the fact that this has been drafted since September 18, over 4 months later and it's still pretty raw so I probably won't proofread.

Here we go again with my drama and trauma....

No but really, we are so very extremely abundantly beyond blessed by the birth of our first (and probably only... little foreshadowing here) son Hunter David on Labor Day, September 4th, 2023 (yep my kid making me labor on Labor Day, we love an entrance and a holiday).

It's no secret it was a struggle for me to get pregnant (7ish years of infertility and a miscarriage) and pregnancy was a struggle for me mentally, physically and emotionally (see previous blogs) and labor and delivery as well as the first two weeks of having a new born were also a struggle.

I know I can be a little dramatic... (if you know me personally you know I always have a story) so I had decided to save everyone the drama and not share my birth story... but I know others birth story helped me and if I can support another mama in her journey it's worth it. But I had to heal a little myself and get a nap in, in order to be able to tell my story from a "facts not feelings" place.

Let me preface with Hunter is safe and healthy and that is what is most important and my main goal. I also don't blame anyone for my "dramatic and traumatic" birth, I blame the system, a broken system. I truly believe doctors have our best interest at heart (exceptions to every rule) but most people go to a doctor and feel like they haven't been served if they don't leave with a drug and a diagnosis- so what are doctors going to focus on, drugs and diagnosis's. Also here in a small town with a small hospital where we have to helicopter out "emergencies" and liability is a huge issue, which I completely agree and understand the reasoning why.

Long story short, our little guy was consistently measuring small from his first ultrasound and has always been 7th-10th percentile so he's been closely monitored with weekly then bi weekly and then even 3x a week ultrasounds to see how the umbilical cord blood flow and amniotic fluid was, heart rate, stress test and some test that I can't remember the name of right now. All of which looked perfect every time 8/8 score. Granted I was 5lbs 4oz, when I was born and I'm the size of a middle schooler now (and was super nauseous for pretty much 9 months straight so I only gained 20 lbs my entire pregnancy) and my husband was 7lbs something when he was born, also my cycles were irregular so the dates could have been off.... but baby was labeled at "growth restricted"

But my doctors for the most part (and here lies part of the problem, we have one OB office in the entire county, with about 8 doctors and another 10 providers, so whoever you talk to doesn't really look at your chart, and doesn't go through any history, just want they see for the day in the 5, if you're lucky 10 minutes they have with you) were pushing for induction at 39 weeks, since baby was "growth restricted. I decided to pick and choose my battles so I didn't argue this until they tried to make me schedule an induction date. 

And now we skip to to good part (in case you don't follow me and missed it in my stories on social media)

Well the first doctor, "Dr. 1" that tried to make me schedule an induction at 39 weeks was probably having a bad day, actually a lot of people like her, but my appointment was at 4:30 the original dr I was scheduled with got called into the hospital and when I got to the practice it looked like she was arguing in the parking lot with someone... so I get into her room and the first thing she said was "I'm not supposed to be doing OB today" (ok no big deal) and I try to ask questions about induction and the response I get is "I can't legally force you that would be cruel and unusual punishment but I wouldn't do it" (with a disgusted look on her face...) ok... I try to ask a few more questions and she's talking as she walks out of the room... like yea I want to see you again in a few days...

I'm a question asker (this is what makes me great as an Integrative Health Practitioner, but an annoying patient) so I requested to see a different doctor for my next appointment no problem (no explanation from me)I get there for my appointment and they send me back to the dr, "Dr. 1" I asked to change from and I asked again to see someone different (since there's like 15 options here...) and as I'm doing a stress test (ha) I'm told "Dr. 1" wants to see you... eh hard pass

So I see "Dr. 2" we like her, she answers my questions, and when I'm like let's hold off on the induction since all the testing looks good, the response I get is "If your baby died because of this you would never be able to forgive yourself"... not a great thing to say to any one, especially pregnant but I think she means well.. I just don't work well with guilt trips, but not holding it against her... still not scheduling an induction but I'll agree to a membrane sweep.

Ok next appointment, next doctor "Dr. 3" agrees testing looks good let's wait until 40 weeks, throws stats at me, I like numbers I feel better, we're good. 

Now here's where it gets spicy....

Next doctor, "Dr. 4," met her before no problem, says all testing looks good, baby is over 6lbs (again, I was 5lbs 4oz) and I'm having contractions for about a week but not strong enough to do anything... Anyway Dr. 4 leads with "What is your plan?"  I'm like lets see if I'm dilated and try a membrane sweep, and she's like "no I need a plan, my recommendation was you induce at 39 weeks." Again, I said let's see where were are since all of my testing was once again perfect and I had already agreed to membrane sweep- to get things started... why I was there... but she yep pushing an induction date before doing the sweep and I'm hesitant and ask questions... home girl was not having it...  and then I was asked if I would be "agreeable" and "actually show" up to the induction... I said yes, If I schedule it I will. But I know we have a king tide, full moon and hurricane coming in. Plus the coming Monday is a holiday and their office is closed. Her response was oh we will find a bed. (great that's reassuring...) Again said let's see where we are, and again sand  I'm asked about being "agreeable..." To which I responded" It's not reassuring to be asked if I'm going to be "agreeable," The response was again pushing for a date because Monday is a holiday (like I said...) and at this point I'm livid... and I said forget it. I don't want to be an inconvenience. So she then tries to to a cervical check and I said no. She keeps trying and starts to walk over to me and I'm like, no, I am not comfortable. and "Dr. 4" says my medical advice is you need a cervical check. I said no, I am not comfortable, at this point I will just have this baby alone in my bath tub. She said I will get another practitioner to do it but I needed a cervical check. I said NO. and got ready to walk out of the room in the tiny sheet over my lap.

Fast forward to Friday, I came back for another appointment, with another Dr. (my track recored isn't that great at this point, luckily we have lots of options. This Dr. I liked, "Dr. 5" as we will call her, was kind and caring and listened as I explained why I was hesitant and why I wasn't a fan of hospitals... she answered all my questions (which I thanked her for) again she was pushing for an induction date. After a cervical check I was only 1/2 cm dilated, not enough for a membrane sweet but perhaps enough for foley bulb. So I agreed to do foley bulb to "get things started," mind you many practice will do this in office and send you home, mine said I had to go to the hospital. Ehhh... She was like we can do it tonight or tomorrow night when I'm on call... So I agreed to Sat night. 

Little did I know what I agreed to... I got paper instructions for an induction and to call in the hospital. So I tried everything and everything I had already tried again to get this baby out, walking, teas, ball bouncing, dates, breast pump, alll the things. One of the nurses called to "reassure me" ehhh thanks... Sat came and I noticed a little pink and contractions getting more intense, so I called to cancel induction as I was naturally going into labor, and I was red flagged, the nurse on staff was like let me get  "Dr. 5", who was like come on I and let's see where we are at... eh pass. I'll just come in later thanks! She was like call back in 2 hours... eh okkkkkk.

I was back and forth for two hours, made dinner did a little laundry, and drove my hubs nuts on if I should go in or not. I did call back in two hours and tried to get out of this induction again and "Dr. 5" is like well come in and lets just see where you are... so I told my hubs I would go in see where I was and leave if it was going going to be a while (first time mom here...)

So I took my sweet time going in, tried to get my hubs to take the long way (I live 4 min from the hospital...) and we saw a wreck across from the hospital, so I tried to talk the hubs into seeing what's up since he was supposed to be working and say hi to friends, that bought me about 3 min, then we were pulling in and some guy yells "F you," I had no idea why but I was like let's go find out! (Here is my chance to escape- to no avail).

So we go into the hospital, the wrong area but whatever, I'm put in a room and given a gown... woahhhh wait... slow the labor train down... we are checking where we are and going from there... wrong... 'Dr. 5" comes in and yes she was nice and kind but I work in a "facts not feelings" kind of person, She talked to me like a crazy person... gentle but manipulative in my opinion (again I think she had my best interest at heart, this isn't the way I need to be talked to..) "Now Bree... we talked about this. It's time for this baby to come out, it's the safest thing for baby" blah blah and my husband bought it... Ugh sucker. I was still trying to get the heck out. So I'm like yea I hear ya but I'm not inducing... and I was told if I leave the hospital I would be going against medical advice and I would have to sign papers saying I was going against medical advice...

Now I know better than to piss off doctors, I also knew the two doctors I didn't want to deal with weren't on call for the next two days... 

So I was stuck...

Gown and all.. ugh grab the bag we left in the car. ugh

It's about 11pm Saturday night and I was dilated enough for a membrane sweep so we started there, not fun... A few hours later we were still at about a cm dilated so I agreed to the foley bulb which was not fun either but manageable... And I was left alone for a while other than the stupid heart rate monitor needing to be readjusted. On this heart rate monitor note, they had to reposition it at least 20 different times and I went through 4 different monitors in course of my extended stay...

Well after some intense discomfort (pain, contractions etc, but bearable I did get a could of little naps in between the nurses in and out with those stupid monitors) foley bulb falls out on it's own a few hours, great we are making progress... I'm about 4cm dilated sometime in the middle of the night. Hubs is asleep, as much as possible in a hospital cot... So I go hang out in the bathtub for a while- which I got way too hot, and about passed out, oops). Side note if you're in labor it's true the bathtub is quite helpful. Hubs gets breakfast- eh on eating which I don't think I was supposed to be doing- but I was able to get some potatoes down.

New Dr on call, we will call her "Dr. 6" comes at shift change a little around in to introduce herself- yep that's right I had never even met the doctor who was going to deliver my baby... and says I can eat breakfast (she has made a good first impression) I got a little gluten free toast down but still eh

My Father in Law gets in town, and my mom gets in town around noon and comes to hang out. I'm still hanging out in labor things are getting more intense but still bearable for most of the afternoon. Heart rate monitors keep slipping off and have to be switched out, my hubs gets some food again cookout perhaps, maybe it was Dunkin, one night he went and got all the nurses doughnuts. Leave it to the cop lol. 

And here's where details get fuzzy... I shouldn't have waiting so long to finish writing this...

All day Sunday I was able to avoid Pitocin, which I was adamant from day 1 I did not want to do because I knew it would be rough and I was adamant about not wanting an epidural (yes side effects, but I have scoliosis and a bunch of issue from that so they might not even be able to give me one, and I didn't want a catheter and didn't want to not be able to get up....) but later Sunday evening I wasn't progressing fast enough so "Dr.6" wants to start Pitocin (this is why I didn't want to start the induction process, because once you start you can't stop...) I ask to wait another hour and she's cool with it. An hour or so later I'm still not making enough progress and I didn't really have a choice so we started the smallest amount of Pitocin possible and I didn't want it upped until I said... (or was it Dr. 5 before Dr. 6 came in? I don't know anymore, don't take months to write out your birth story)

Let me stop and say here also how awesome the nurses were and I'm beyond grateful!

But back to our regularly scheduled program. The Pitocin was helping speed up and intensify my contractions and the were getting pretty rough, since I was on the Pitocin I had to stay out of the tub which was super helpful. I was pretty in and out being up for almost 24 hours, plus in some pretty intense pain- yes contractions but the sciatica was pretty awful, if I remember correctly I agreed to up the dose a little more to get over with... 

An hour or so later maybe about 10pm Sunday night I was still about 4 or 5cm I remember right and in eructing pain. So I agreed to some pain killer- whatever a step down from fentanyl is, and it didn't so much as touch the pain. At this point I'm much blacking out from pain and exhaustion. Honestly I don't remember much, and I don't think I want to, I just remember myself in and out of consciousness. I knew I couldn't make it at this rate so I finally agreed to an epidural. Apparently the Pitocin had also been dialed up again as well and I asked to take it back down a notch for a "pit break" which the doctor agreed to. (Again I like this doctor, I'm SO glad she was there but I regret not hiring a doula to advocate for me when I needed it most- I mean I obviously wasn't in the right state of mine, no one in labor is, but I feel like women shouldn't have some say over what goes in their body when it comes to Pitocin-again I remember very little-so this is just a generalize statement)

But, yes, the same epidural I tried so freakin hard for weeks to avoid and part of the reason why I wanted to avoid induction before 39 weeks, but I figured it was better than a cesarian section. They were able to place it, it was horrible, and unfortunately it only half took. My left side was good and numb my right side not so much, but it did help the pain, I could still feel the contractions but I felt like I could keep going and didn't want to be any more out of it so I asked if they could do the lowest dose and didn't want more even though I wasn't fully numb. I still don't remember much but I remember feeling outside of my body almost and felt completely emotionless at this point. 

Somewhere around midnight (I remember thinking well looks like this baby will be born on Labor Day) I was apparently dilated enough to finally start pushing. The Doctor comes in and says the baby's heart rate has dropped in the 40s we need to get this baby out now, do you want a vacuum or c section?

And time stood still.

I responded: Let's try a vacuum first then if we need to c section.

And the baby's heart rate went back up- in hindsight the heart rate monitor slipped off or stopped working at least a dozen times and they had to change it out at least 4 different times so I'm kind of wondering if the heart rate monitor was reading right as he moved down but in the moment I'm freaking out.

I could still feel contractions so I pushed for about an hour as quick and as hard as I could and the doctor commented on how much hair this baby had. My little guy Hunter David was born at 1:27am on Labor Day, Monday, September 4th 2023 at 6lbs 2oz, 19.5 inches long with a full head of hair.

As soon as he was born they laid him on my chest and noticed he wasn't breathing correctly and brought an emergency team in. I was in so much shock and exhaustion again I don't remember much other than just shock. Everything checked out ok, it seems he was just stunned by being born.

Finally my epidural, well the one side of it, that was kinda tricky, wore off and I was moved over to postpartum where I was woken up every hour and like 2 days of no sleep, and still in pretty intense pain but freaking out even more about what I was going to do with a baby.

I will say breakfast the next morning was a win and the nursing staff and doctors were all very kind. Mid morning they took Hunter off for routine testing, all which came back normal so I was able to breathe a big sigh of relief. I had specifically told the nurse previously I would wait until I was home to give him a bath which she wrote on the board in our room and when they brought him back they had given him bath. I was too tired to even put up a fight, what's done is done, part of me wonders what else they did since everything I said no to was not honored... I just wanted to go home. 

Again the most important thing was to have a safe healthy baby, second goal was to avoid a c-section, all of which were achieved so I am very grateful and I know it could have gone way worse. I never wanted or expected a "magical birth experience,' but I do wish it wasn't so scary and our heath care system would actually give mothers a say in their own care... The doctor who delivered Hunter was amazing and I'm so grateful for her as well, I truly think if she would have been the primary doctor in my care thing would have gone much better, but again I'm grateful she was there at the most important part, even though I had never met her before.

Which is where my problem lies. A broken system, not certain doctor, or nurse or practice or hospital... when a doctor or provider only has 10 minutes with you they don't know the backstory, heck do they even have a chance to really even read your chart? I know I come across very anti med hippy blah blah blah, but in fact I'm not. I truly believe doctor's for the most part have our best interest at heart but all people want is a drug and a diagnosis and so what are doctors going to focus on, what people want, drugs and diagnosis, what are they going to learn and research, yep you guessed it drugs and diagnosis.

So, I would be remised if I didn't mention this. Adjusting to a new baby was a struggle, no one really talks about it but it is, mentally physically and emotionally. I could barely walk for about a week, my hips and ribs were out of place and ached, of course you can't sleep, nursing was a struggle, Hunter had a tongue tie and a lip tie and after getting those fixed it helped but still a struggle. I don't know how to still still and heal and I need mental simulation to keep me going, so I had to stay busy and didn't "sleep when the baby sleeps" which really is impossible anyway.... but I failed 3 postpartum depression screenings... and the only person who truly seemed to actually care was my pediatrician, who is also an amazing doctor I'm so very grateful for. When I went in for my postpartum check ups I was once again brushed off as if the practitioner at the time couldn't out of the room fast enough... after of course she was pushing birth control on me... I mean maybe a bad day and I get it trying to help but if I try to ask questions don't brush them off and push drugs... A few days later I received a certified letter from the only OBGYN practice in the county saying I needed to find a new practice and they would no longer be serving me... with no explanation or no "included" form to transfer my records... I tried to call but no one answered so I just gave up. It's not worth the fight. 

I say all this to say: you would be amazed at all the stories I have heard after I posted little clips of my prenatal struggles. I'm am so grateful for my little guy he is such a blessing but the struggle was real. Now that I have written this ahem now novel out I can finally close this chapter and I'm grateful for that as well.

Final thoughts: Have someone who supports you, spouse, mom, sister, aunt, best friend, doula, midwife, or even your doctor but have someone. Stick to your mother's intuition, no means no, and I'm here if you need to talk.


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