Our angel baby took her first breath exactly one week ago, on August 29th at 4:53 am.
Our world has been rocked as the hours and days blend together in the thick newborn fog. The entire experience has been surreal to say the least, and I wanted to write down as much as I could about her birth before it fades from my memory.
At my 39 week appointment I was checked for the first time, and pleasantly surprised to discover I was already 1cm dilated and 50% effaced. I hadn’t been feeling any contractions or cramping, and was hopeful that my body would go into labor on its own before the 41 week induction recommended by my doctor.
40 weeks came and went and I progressed to 75% effaced, but still only 1cm. With family in town and the nursery finally finished a few days later, I was ready to get this show on the road! We tried every trick in the book to get things moving. I was awoken by cramps one night after walking two miles, but by morning they were gone. I had to come to terms with the fact that labor wasn’t going to come naturally.
The day before my scheduled induction, I saw the doctor for one final checkup, ultrasound and NST. I was still at “1-ish” cm, but the baby’s heart rate wasn’t very active on the NST and the doctor recommended we go straight to the hospital to be induced. From the moment she muttered those words, my brain switched over into a whirlwind of nerves and excitement, and I’m realizing now that it will never go back to my pre-pregnancy state.
The hours and days to follow have been a blur to me, but we made sure to have Lucas take notes of the events and timing during the labor process so we could share our story.
On the way to the hospital we stopped back at home for a quick shower and to gather our bags. By 2:30pm we were checked in and anxiously awaiting family to meet us there.
An hour later I settled into my room as they started an IV and monitoring my contractions. I was already contracting every 2-3 minutes on my own (apparently the threat of being induced made my body start cooperating?)
However, I wasn’t feeling anything and the contractions weren’t making me progress. The nurse suggested I try walking around for an hour to see if that would help them intensify, and after being checked at 6pm I was still a “stretchy 1cm” with the baby showing no signs of dropping.
At this time, they decided to start me on cervidil which could be left in for up to 12 hours. The plan was to use this overnight, then switch to pitocin to begin active labor in the morning. The nurse confidently predicted I’d have this baby at 5pm the next day (after two hours of pushing).
Our family was in and out of the room during this time, wishing us luck and telling us they’d be back first thing in the morning to be there for the delivery. My sister stayed with us for a few hours as labor began to record photo and video.
By 7:30pm the contractions started getting uncomfortable, though they still followed the same 2-3 minute pattern on the monitor. I tried to move around as much as I could and keep myself distracted, but even in the rest period between contractions there wasn’t much relief.
At 9:45pm the nurse came in to check me, and I joked that I surely must be at 10cm by now. My heart sunk when she said I was still only around 1.5cm—how many hours of this would I need to endure?
I was given an Ambien to get some rest, but there was no way I could relax for even a minute as the pain intensified into what felt like one continuous contraction with varying levels of pain. I tried bouncing on the birth ball which seemed to provide the most comfort, but the monitor kept losing the baby’s heartbeat in that position so I was told to stay on the bed.
By 11:45pm the contractions were lasting 45-60 seconds every other minute, and the intense pain mixed with the Ambien left me in a daze. I tried to remember the breathing techniques I had learned but it was difficult to stay focused on anything.
At 12:20am I was checked once again, and had finally progressed to 2cm. All along we’d been told I needed to reach 4cm to get an epidural, but the doctor said I had progressed enough at this stage that they could administer it. 30 minutes later I vaguely recall the anesthesiologist entering the room. I held still through a contraction as the epidural was inserted and remember thinking I’d rather take 100 of those than one contraction.
Within minutes, my toes started tingling as I felt my body begin to relax. The pain slowly began to subside, and all I can remember are the lights going dim as I closed my eyes for the first time that evening.
I was awoken at 2:40am to check on my progress, and in less than two hours I had made it to 6.5cm! Things escalated quickly from there, and just 90 minutes later I was complete at 10cm with the baby’s head fully engaged! They broke my water and I was feeling a lot of pressure and pain on my left side, so they called the anesthesiologist back in. He said I had a hot spot which he was able to correct by adjusting the epidural, and once it was working properly, it was time to push!
At 4:30am I pushed with the first contraction, and the baby’s head was immediately in sight. Around 15 minutes later the doctor took over, and I pushed through three more contractions. Esmé Rose was born at 4:53am, weighing 6lbs 13 oz and 20.25″ long.
She had swallowed a lot of fluid and was gone for what felt like forever as they cleared her lungs.
But she was full of life and wonder as they placed her on my chest, and stayed there for an hour and a half.
She nursed right away—I have vague memories of this but was told she nursed for a whole hour. We’re not really surprised though as we saw her practice swallowing at every ultrasound and she constantly had the hiccups in the womb.
I couldn’t imagine laboring without the epidural after six hours of minimal progress. As soon as the pain disappeared and my body could relax, she was in our arms less than four hours later. The night was a blur of pain, emotions and anticipation, but it was all worth it to bring our sweet girl into this world.
This is the first grandbaby on both sides and we’ve all been waiting a long time, so you can only imagine how loved this little one is.
She’s especially stolen daddy’s heart, and he’s been right there with me through every late night feeding, swaddle and diaper change.
We couldn’t have dreamed up a more perfect baby—she truly is an angel.
Now the family is back in California and we begin the process of settling into a new normal. My hormones are still all over the place and the love I feel for this little girl is overwhelming. Having a child truly is watching your heart beat outside of your body.
Esmé Rose LeBlanc, we love you more than you’ll ever know.
PS: In case you missed it, I shared a video of our pregnancy journey earlier this week… enjoy 🙂