Carter’s Birth Story

I am so thrilled, and so proud to share our sweet baby boy Carter Campbell Sidders with all of you, and to document the story of how he came into the world!

In typical fashion, our birth story took a few minor twists and turns along the way, but we made it in the end! From the very beginning, before we even got pregnant, we knew that this birth was going to be a planned c-section. I’ve worked so diligently at my recovery from Austin’s birth, and am really happy with where my pelvic floor / core have returned to. I’m not “perfect”, nor will I ever be, but all in all, that whole mess is a sleeping dog that we really need to let lie, and not disturb with another attempt at a vaginal birth. SO, that being said, I’ve been all-in on our planned c-section from Day 1, and have felt really positive about the whole thing all the way along.

Our c-section has been planned since I was about 22 weeks pregnant for Monday December 23rd, which really made us laugh because this poor, poor child… he doesn’t stand a chance at a birthday party! There really was no flexibility whatsoever with the dates; I guess 39 weeks is now officially considered full-term (as opposed to 37 weeks, which it used to be), and there’s a fair bit of research that shows that babies really benefit from staying in for every critical day up until 39 weeks, so there really wasn’t any wiggle-room for me to negotiate a slightly earlier or later date to dodge Christmas (and believe me – I tried!!). So, we sucked it up, and Monday the 23rd was our date.

My last day of work was Friday December 13th, and Matt’s parents Roy & Dianne arrived that weekend as well. They were coming for Christmas and for the first few weeks with little babe as well, so the timing worked out well. This entire pregnancy I’ve battled various symptoms, aches and pains, but miraculously, as soon as I was finished work, I started feeling like a million bucks!! My energy levels spiked through the roof, the nausea that I’ve battled on and off for the entire pregnancy finally lifted, and the aching in my hips and back started to alleviate a bit as well (although my back pain was something I did battle right up until delivery – especially when walking or sitting for too long). I guess I’m going to attribute some of that to the stress of work being lifted at last. My work was just insane for the last several months, and I was at work until after 5pm on my very last day before maternity leave. It never really “ramped down” for me, so I was one happy girl to walk out the door and dust my hands of everything on December 13th, that’s for sure.

I still had a lot of prep to do for Christmas the following week, so I spent Monday the 16th and Tuesday the 17th running all over the GTA like a mad-woman (I told you – energy levels, through DA ROOF) to different malls, stores and errands and got soooo much done. On Wednesday, things started to get interesting…

On Tuesday night overnight, Austin woke up puking. If there’s anything more heartbreaking than toddler throwing up… they’re so sad and scared and just want their mamas. Break my heart. Anyways, because of this, I kept Austin home with me on Wednesday. We then heard from his daycare that public health had come to visit / inspect the daycare and had officially declared an outbreak of Norwalk virus at the facility.

Lovely.

Austin unfortunately had all of the Norwalk symptoms. Diarrhea, vomiting, fever, loss of appetite… ugh. He stayed home with me for the rest of the week, and it was a bit of a blessing and a curse. I was so glad that I was off work and able to be with him and just cuddle him and make him feel better, but at the same time, that was the end of my crazy productivity for the week as well! I was getting a bit anxious that not everything was going to get done before December 22nd, but knew that my priority had to be getting Austin better, and so that was what I did.

My parent’s had their annual Christmas party on Friday December 20th, and Austin was mostly better by that point. We went, and I basically parked myself by the food all night and hung out haha #39weekspregnant. It was really hard for me to stay standing or sitting in one place for any period of time at this point with my back aches and pains, so I just did my best to be up and down as much as possible.

Overnight on Friday December 20th…I woke up feeling super nauseous and like I was going to vomit. I asked Matt to get me a puke bucket, but didn’t end up actually throwing up. It never dawned on me that I could be heading for trouble. I just assumed that I had eaten too much at the party, or maybe eaten something that didn’t agree with me.

Saturday morning, I woke up feeling pretty dreadful. I was super nauseous, but a different nauseous then I had had for almost the entire pregnancy. This was a “sick” nausea. All day I felt like I was going to throw up on and off, but couldn’t make myself do it. Matt and I took Austin on a little adventure downtown Burlington to get a cookie at his favourite bake shoppe and walk by a construction site downtown where there are bulldozers and excavators working (his fave lol), and the whole time I just felt like I was going to die. By the evening, I was on the couch and couldn’t even bring myself to help put Austin to bed. I knew at this point that something was up, and I was going to vomit for sure.

Sure enough, by about 9pm, I was vomiting up a storm. Normally one good vomit will make me feel a lot better, but this just kept coming and coming in these awful waves. Diarrhea kicked in shortly after as well, and that was when I realized: holy effing hell, I think I’ve got that Norwalk bug.

That Saturday night has to go down as one of the worst of my life – I wouldn’t wish that bug on annnnyyyyybody, no matter the evil you’ve done lol it was so vicious. At some point during the whole mess, I looked up (very pathetically) at Matt and said “there’s no way I can have a c-section like this!”. He reassured me not to worry about that for now, and to just survive the night.

By the morning, things had settled down, and although I was still feeling awful, weak and dehydrated, I wasn’t throwing up anymore. We phoned the labour and delivery floor at the hospital to tell them what was going on, and to ask what we needed to do for our c-section that at this point was supposed to be the very next day. I spoke with two really kind nurses, and after a few hours, finally heard back from them that they were going to delay our surgery until Friday December 27th, to give me time to recuperate and get rid of the bug. The charge nurse that I spoke to was so kind and reassured me that it was not uncommon for stuff like this to happen, and that they had had bit of an epidemic of Norwalk sweep through the hospital themselves, so not to worry. They also thanked us for calling and for not just showing up the next day, because they wouldn’t have done the surgery anyways.

I was so intensely relieved to not be undergoing surgery in my condition, but at the same time, I was also so disappointed to have to wait a few more days to meet little babe. Although our Christmas was going to be a disaster, it was a disaster that we had planned and looked forward to for several months, and we had always pictured little babe being a part of our Christmas this year. After processing the disappointment for a little while, I resigned myself to make the best of the situation, and on the upside, little babe would have a few extra days to develop and grow in utero, and that definitely wasn’t a bad thing. I also wouldn’t be recovering from major surgery on Christmas day, and there wouldn’t be as much pressure for us to get out of the hospital quickly to be home for Christmas. Onwards and upwards.

We did end up having a wonderful Christmas with Austin and our families. We spent Christmas Eve at my parents house for most of the day, then came home to sleep here. Austin was so excited about Christmas – so it was really nice that we could be here for / with him and make it special for him.

My parents came over in the afternoon on Christmas Day and we had a Christmas dinner at our place. The entire day, I was on pins and needles about going into labour spontaneously, or my water breaking, but thankfully little babe was a trooper and stayed put on the inside!

Boxing Day was all about trying to get back on even-keel after the crazy Christmas Day festivities. Nesting mode kicked in big-time, and I was frantic to try and get the garbage out of the house, and things tidied up as much as possible before we left for the hospital the following morning. Eeeks. Nerves started to kick-in big time at this point, and I started to get a little more anxious about the upcoming surgery. Thankfully, I was feeling great at this point, and ready to rock and roll in the morning.

At our pre-op appointment (back on Friday December 20th lol), I had been given instructions to take two showers prior to surgery and wipe myself down with an isopropyl alcohol solution to try and minimize the risk of infection. I had my first shower on the night of the 26th, and I actually used my breast pump for 15 minutes as well to start letting my body know that it was time to produce milk again, and hopefully get a jump start on my milk coming in. Shit was getting real.

The morning of the 27th was a gong show; as can only be expected with us! We probably slept in a little later then we should have to meet our timing, and ended up scrambling out the door about 10 minutes later then I had wanted to leave. It was probably good that we were running around like crazy people, because it took my mind off of the surgery, and it also took my mind off of leaving Austin, and all of the feelings that I was having around that. I had been nervous the entire pregnancy about disrupting my Austin’s little world with the arrival of his new brother. I’m so so excited to raise brothers, and I know that they will have so much fun growing up together, but at the same time, I figured that it would be hard on Austin to have to share the limelight and to have someone else at the centre of our universe along with him.

I picked Austin up one more time for the next several weeks (sniff sniff) and gave him a huge hug before Matt and I sprinted out the door.

Driving myself to the hospital to give birth when I wasn’t in labour was very surreal, and very different than the last time! Last time I couldn’t have told you one detail about the ride to the hospital, but this time Matt and I were nervously chatting away the whole time about everything from the Leafs to parenthood… we got to the hospital pretty much right on time, and bustled in and up to the labour and delivery floor only about 3 minutes late. Phew.

We checked in with the admission desk on the labour and delivery floor, and again I was struck by the total normalcy of it all as she breezily read through my medical information, asked me questions, processed insurance paperwork for our room…the whole time I kept bouncing my legs up and down thinking “doesn’t anyone know that I’m having a BABY today?! Like in matter of hours?!”. We finished up with admissions, and the super friendly nurse took us just around the corner to the “pre-op” room, where I had Matt take the picture below to get a shot of the “full” belly bump… I’ve been so so bad at taking bump pictures this pregnancy, so this was my guilty attempt to make up for it right at the end… eeks… 😐

We didn’t have to sit for too long before the sweetest nurse ever named Olivia came into the room and introduced herself as “my nurse” for our c-section. She was so lovely and sweet, and really put my mind at ease that everything was going to be just fine. She very  methodically went about pre-op things: verifying my information, giving me my hospital gown, getting my IV setup and fluids running and running through pre-op questions.

We had about an hour and 15 minutes to wait in the room in and amongst all of these things going on, and Matt and I got chatting about the Leafs and hockey standings, and if I remember correctly, were right in the middle of a spirited debate about the Eastern conference standings and playoff rankings, when Olivia came back into the room to tell us that it was time for me to come with her into the operating room, and that she would be back for Matt once they were ready to start the surgery.

As we say in our house: “it’s go time”.

It was a very short walk to the operating room; literally just down the hallway and through a set of double doors. Walking into the operating room, I actually said out loud “oh my god, this is terrifying!”. It looked like something out of a horror moving to me! The entire room was very stark, white and very bright. There was this tiny, very narrow little bed (that I’m sure my ass was hanging off of on either side attractively lol) with arms outstretched to the side, and these big scary trays of scalpels and scissors and other surgical paraphernalia all setup. The only thing that was somewhat reassuring was the little incubator over in the corner that indicated that a sweet little baby was about to come into the world in this room. Rather than someone was about to be dissected and sold for spare parts on the black market.

I had a seat on the edge of this narrow little bed and kicked my legs nervously waiting for more information. I hated that Matt couldn’t come with me for this part, but knew that it was my time to shine and keep my freaking cool as much as I could. I had literally visualized and practiced for this moment for months, and I knew that I needed to keep it together, or else I was going to get put under general anesthesia and miss the birth of my sweet little babe. And I didn’t want that at all.

We were waiting for just a few minutes for the anesthesiologist to arrive, and when she did, I was struck by how young (and very pretty!) she was. I also realized that the entire team of people in the OR (which consisted of my OB, Olivia, sassy nurse, a GP doctor to assist with the surgery, a nurse for little babe, and the anesthesiologist) were all women!! Matt ended up being the only male in the room (well, that is, until little babe arrived on the scene, but I’m jumping ahead of myself here ;)). GIRL POWER for all!

The anesthesiologist was very kind, and very matter of fact. She stood in front of me and explained exactly how she was going to administer the spinal injection, and what I should expect. I was totally freaking out at this point inside, but nodded along. I asked her if there was any chance that the spinal could interfere with my breathing, and she had to give me the textbook answer that “nothing is impossible”, but it was highly unlikely. Gulp.

Olivia came over to hold my shoulders still and gave me a pillow to hug while the anesthesiologist worked on the medicine. First she administered an injection that had freezing medication. She warned me that this stung and burned a little bit, and she was right, but it wasn’t anything too bad or that really affected me all that much. After that, she talked me through administering the spinal block, which I barely felt, except for some pressure on my back.

As she had promised, nearly instantly after getting the spinal block, my legs started to go tingly, warm and numb. At this point, my level of freak-out escalated a touch. I kept wiggling my toes to reassure myself that I could still move them…but then it kind of hit me that in the very immediate future, I wasn’t going to be able to move them anymore.

Enter Stage Left: beginnings of a panic attack.

The nurses moved very quickly after the medicine went in to swing my lower body up onto the bed, hang the drape across my chest, and start prepping for the surgery. The anesthesiologist stayed by my head and kept talking to me about what I was feeling, which helped somewhat. Within a matter of 2 – 3 minutes, I couldn’t feel my legs at all anymore, and probably no more than 1 minute after that, I lost the ability to move my lower body at all. If you’ve never felt a complete paralysis like this before, there’s no way for me to explain it to you except that it’s friggin’ scary. There’s something extremely unnatural about trying to move and not being able to, and it was wreaking havoc on me almost instantly. For some reason, I was super focused on the fact that I couldn’t wiggle my toes, and that was my number one concern. I probably said it out loud to the anesthesiologist 10 separate times; and she reassured me that that was completely normal, which didn’t do a lot to ease my mind.

My OB started working on cleaning my belly and other prep, and the entire time I was engaged in a full on battle against a massive panic attack. I started to feel that familiar hotness in my face and neck, and then the nausea started to creep in (the anesthesiologist said that this could be from the drugs, but I know that it was anxiety – I’ve been to this rodeo before). I told the anesthesiologist that I thought I was going to throw up, and that I was scared. She responded quickly and said that she would “take care of the nausea” right away with anti-nausea drugs. I also asked them for a cold cloth for my head and some ice for my neck. My OB at this point said that they were ready enough that someone could go and get Matt as well to help matters.

The anesthesiologist got me a small bowl for beside my face, and set me up with a cool cloth and a hospital glove full of ice (lol). Matt came into the room not more than 2 minutes later, and I was very glad to see him. The first thing  I said to him was “I can’t move my toes”… lol a combination of Matt, the ice / cool cloth, the anti-nausea drugs and some good old fashioned mother-effing grit and determination staved off the panic attack, and I started to feel a little better.

My OB started “testing” to make sure that I was completely frozen, and I told her that I could feel something sharp poke me at one point. She asked me again to tell her when I could feel the sharp prick, and I did…but I must have failed the test, because they went ahead with the surgery and I didn’t feel a thing!

Matt was a champ beside me, holding my hand,  re-positioning the glove-full of ice on and around my head and neck (lol) and just reassuring me that everything was going to be okay. I focused on my breathing, and watched the clock on the wall of the operating room as minutes began to tick by. The anesthesiologist told me that pretty soon, I would feel a ton of pressure on my belly when they were actually pulling the baby out, and I asked her how far away we were from that time. She said no more than 5 minutes, and I felt this huge enormous surge of confidence; we were almost there!

I think my OB and the doctor assisting with the c-section had a little bit of trouble getting little babe out of me (go figure – apparently my babies just don’t want to come out via any means LOL) and they were kind of tugging and pulling at various things on the other side of the drape. The anesthesiologist quickly said to me that there was a chance that they may need to give me a spray under my tongue that would make my uterus relax so that they could get the baby out a little easier. My OB made a joke on the other side of the drape that my abs were too tight to get the baby out (which is laughable at best given my current level of fitness lol), but then suddenly it felt like some progress was made, and my OB exclaimed “we don’t need it, we don’t need it!”. Not more than 1 minute later, I heard the most wonderful sound – a big, throaty cry from the other side of the drape.

Both the OB and the assisting doctor exclaimed that he was crying and he wasn’t even out yet, and they told Matt to get his camera ready for the picture! Matt stood up to take the first picture of our sweet little Carter, but at first when he stood up, he was confused because he didn’t know if he should be taking a picture of the surgery scene with all the blood and gore in the background (heh). The doctors laughed and joked that he had choked under the pressure, so they would set him up for another shot at the picture. He still seemed a bit confused so at this point I started yelping to “take the picture! take the picture!” and he finally did (he’s still confused as to why he was taking a picture of an open surgery scene LOL). I personally love the picture, it’s Carter’s first moments earthside! Matt still thinks it’s a little gruesome… 😉

At this point, I hadn’t yet seen Carter on the other side of the drape.  I could hear him crying, but hadn’t laid eyes on his sweet face. One of the nurses finally brought him around the drape and I got to see him…and I was totally overcome with emotion at how beautiful and perfect he looked. I know all mothers think their babies are perfect, but I truly felt looking at him in that moment that he was just the most perfect little baby ever, and I couldn’t believe how lucky we were that he was ours.

The nurses took Carter over to the little incubator to weigh him, do his tests and clean him up a little bit. Matt went over with them and I never took my eyes off of them. From that moment on, I completely forgot that I was wide-open on an operating room table, and time just flew. The nurses kept calling out times, and it seemed like they were trying to get through everything that they needed to do with Carter as soon as possible so that they could get him over to me for skin to skin, which I really appreciated.

Less than about 3 – 4 minutes later, the nurse brought Cater over to me on the operating table and positioned him on my chest. He had been crying pretty loudly the entire time since he had been born, but the exact instant that he made contact with my skin, he stopped crying and fell asleep instantly. I couldn’t believe it. I was very weepy the whole time (all happy tears this time!!), and just so happy.

Time started flying once Carter was on my chest. I think it ended up taking about another 20 – 25 minutes for them to finish closing me up and everything else that they needed to do, and then they transferred Carter and I over to a hospital bed, and began wheeling us out of the operating room and over to the recovery room. I still couldn’t feel my lower half at all, or wiggle my toes, and I was still pretty anxious about that, but having Carter to focus on made it all much more tolerable. I remember asking what time exactly the medicine went into my back, so that I could count down the three hours until I should be able to move again. I still had nearly 2 hours to wait!

We spent a little over an hour in the recovery room with our nurse Olivia. She gave me an injection of a blood thinning medication to prevent blood clots in my legs, but I couldn’t feel a thing because she gave it to me in my stomach, and I was still completely numb. While we were in the recovery room, we started to notice that Carter’s skin had a pretty red rash developing all over his back / arms / legs. That scared the bajesus out of me, and Olivia said that she hadn’t really seen anything like it before, but she would check with her charge nurse and have her come to take a peek at him. I was worried, but hoped that it would be nothing, and it turned out to be exactly the case. By about 2 days later, the rash was completely gone all on it’s own, and all was good.

After our time in the recovery room, Olivia and Matt wheeled us down the hall and around the corner onto the Maternal Child unit where we would be staying for the next couple of days. They initially put us in a double room (with nobody in the other bed) because the hospital was pretty full that night, but later on that night, another girl (who had had an emergency c-section) was supposed to join us in the room. Luckily for us, a single room had opened up late that night, and we were able to high tail it over to that room so that we had a bit more privacy. We had great nurses in the hospital (with the possible exception of our very last nurse, who although super sweet and kind, seemed a little fast and loose with the details and ended up discharging me from the hospital without a wheelchair lol…she was a bit all over the place!), and we had lots of help with breastfeeding, and moving around post surgery. In general, our experience in the hospital was just much more positive all around this time. I was really happy with our experience.

Reflecting on our birth experience with Carter, I really couldn’t be happier with how things all went for us in the hospital and leading up to it. Contrary to what it may seem like from the outside, our c-section birth has been truly healing for me in so many ways. I feel like this birth experience has helped me to regain a sense of control and more importantly, a sense of pride in myself for what I’ve been able to overcome to bring my sweet baby boys into this world. I feel this overwhelming sense of closure and contentness for both Carter and Austin’s births, and I feel like I’m finally ready, and willing, to turn the page on my first birth experience, and move forward with our lives without looking back. This has been something that I’ve struggled to do for months (and even years), so it truly feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off of my shoulders. I am so, so truly grateful.

I am 10 days post-surgery today, and I’m feeling better and better every single day. My healing has been very linear this time (compared to the slingshot roller coaster that it was last time!), and every single day I’m noticing a major step forward in how I’m able to move, and my pain levels. The one really challenging thing with my c-section this time, is that I’m not able to pick up my sweet boy Austin. I’m only 10 days into a 6 week stretch where I can’t lift him, and already I know that it’s going to be a really tough go. I’m trying to stay focused on showering Austin with love every other way I possibly can, and to just take it one day at a time and focus on the gratitude that I am healing well, and will be back to myself in 6 short weeks (or less!), and ready to move forward with getting fit and healthy again, and being the best version of myself for my boys.

I plan to continue with our weekly update posts, just as I did for the first several months of Austin’s life, because I love having the detailed record to look back on (and I dearly regret not keeping up with my weekly pregnancy updates for Carter’s pregnancy – so I owe it to him and to myself to keep up with his weekly updates now that he is here earthside!). I’ll be back shortly with our first week recap; it’s been a busy one, but I’m so proud of Matt and I for everything we’ve accomplished so far, and I know that there isn’t anything we can’t tackle together.

Lots of love,

-Sara xo

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