A lot of people have been asking how the delivery went, especially knowing our original hope of having a completely natural delivery. Below is a recap of Noelle's birth, with a few pictures (no graphic details =)). We'll continue to post a lot of pictures, so feel free to visit again as often as you like.
Thank you, all, for your wonderful well-wishes and support.
Summary (detailed account, if you're really interested, follows below)
Original Expectations: The only real goal, of coarse, was a healthy baby and healthy mom. Bonus objectives on top of that were to have a vaginal delivery and, hopefully, an intervention free delivery.
End Result: Primary goal achieved! Mom and baby came out of delivery with very little impact other than exhaustion. Several interventions (thank you excellent medical staff who worked with us) ended up being needed, but thanks to them we were able to eventually have a vaginal delivery and avoid the c-section that, at one point, seemed unavoidable.
Alex was a fantastic labor coach, providing confident support the entire time. Our doula, Kim Gero, was invaluable in helping us make it to our favorable conclusion. Her reassuring support gave both of us the confidence to make it through the difficult/long labor without panicking but, instead, working through the natural process.
Timeline: Total labor time (counting from onset of early labor) was a bit excessive by almost any standard: a total of 58 hours. We started at 1 am on Thursday the 16th and Noelle finally decided to join us at 11:03 am on Saturday the 18th.
Thursday: Early labor contractions started at 1 am, coming 4-6 minutes apart.
Around 5 am I got Alex up and we called our doula, Kim Gero. Kim arrived to assess how I was doing and, after observing some contractions and where I was really feeling them (lower back) agreed with what Alex and I had been worried about, the baby was likely in a posterior position (back of the baby's head toward the mother's back).
Posterior positioning often results in very slow labor progress and, in many cases, associated back pain as the baby's head pushes against the mother's tail bone. Alex ushered the dogs off to the kennel so we wouldn't have to worry about them. By about noon it was clear that things weren't going to be progressing quickly. Kim went home to rest up in case we'd be up all night and Alex and I goofed around between contractions trying to get things going. We played basketball, went for walks and tried to relax as much as possible. Alex was able to get a little sleep as well.
Friday: By Friday morning contractions were still only 4-6 min apart, but strong enough that I wanted help through them. Alex got up around 4:30 am to help and Kim came back around 8 am. Since things were so slow, it was time to try and turn the baby. Kim worked all day to try and turn little Noelle into a better position.
Kim working hard to turn the baby
At 2 pm contractions had started to space out more, to 7 min apart, and we reluctantly accepted the inevitable that we'd need some augmentation to keep things going. I tried, unsuccessfully, to get a nap and we finally headed to the hospital around 4:30 pm.
Settling in at the hospital
Being at the hospital seemed to motivate little Noelle, because contractions picked up again to 4 min apart right after we arrived. So, we tried for about 4 more hours w/out augmentation. However, with no progress by 10 pm (I was still around 5 cm dilated, which was where I arrived) we finally agreed to using some Pitocin to speed labor along. I had pretty much had it at this point (45 hours in) and, scared of the worse contractions that usually come with Pitocin, agreed to an epidural.
Saturday: With the epidural in, all of us were able to relax for a few hours, wonderful! Unfortunately, Things weren't going any faster and I was only 6-7 cm as early Saturday morning came around. My Dr. started seriously talking C-section at this point. The only reason were we able to delay was that Noelle was tolerating the labor really well with no signs of distress.
As a last attempt to get things going, the Dr. ruptured my membranes (not ideal with a posterior position, since it becomes harder for the baby to turn once the fluid is gone and they drop further). Thankfully, labor did start to pick up and I began to dilate as needed. Unfortunately, as it progressed it became clear that while the epidural worked well for contraction pain, I could still feel a great amount of pressure in my pelvis.
The poor anesthesiologist came and went several times over the course of the morning, trying to augment the epidural. We finally entered the 'pushing' phase at 8:30 am. Ironically, the one person I really yelled at during the whole labor process was the anesthesiologist, when he tried to explain that he had already given me more than the standard doses =)
The last challenge was Noelle's presentation. She did turn out of the posterior position during the pushing stage (better late then never, I guess) but she had a compound presentation (her right hand was up next to her face). So, baby girl had a little rougher entry then would have been ideal, as my Dr. helped her make it out with her hand up. A scary minute or two followed as the staff helped Noelle start breathing normally. From then on, however, everyone recovered perfectly, no worse for the process.
Just 24 hours later, we were up and about, meeting with family and relaxing. While I can't say I'm ready to run off and do it again right now, Noelle was certainly worth the trouble and we couldn't be happier to be home relaxing with her.
Meeting Aunt Stacy
Relaxing at Home