After a long pregnancy, I’m so grateful to finally have our healthy baby girl!
Caroline Kay Burton was born on September 10th, 2020. She’s beautiful and sweet and I can’t believe she’s finally here. I can’t really begin Caroline’s birth story without first mentioning the deliveries of Ella and Jack. Both were c-sections (for different reasons but that’s a story for another time) and because of that, I knew from the beginning how this baby would most likely be delivered. My due date was September 11th and it’s customary at my practice to deliver a week early when you’ve already had multiple c-sections. But that didn’t sit right with me. I wanted to be safe and healthy but I also wanted a healthy baby. So after some back and forth with my doctors (there’s a story there, too), September 8th was chosen as the day I would deliver. But Covid is far reaching and Jack’s school start date was pushed back to September 9th. And you guys know there is no way I would ever miss that. So after another back and forth, September 10th became baby’s birthday. The one tough thing was that the only available time at the OR would be 5pm. When you have this surgery, you can’t eat after midnight the night before so September 10th was shaping up to be a rough day for me. But it was worth it to see Jack off to his first day of preschool.
We only told our family this date because there was still a chance there could be complications that would require me to deliver her early. I was warned that repeat c-sections could be dangerous but I recovered well from my last one and had encouraging ultrasounds. I also trusted my instincts and I had faith everything would be okay. And great news came on the afternoon of September 9th– a spot in the OR opened up and my c-section would now be at 9 am! I was so happy but also a little nervous about the sudden change. That night, Matthew and I went on our traditional night-before-baby drive. We got milkshakes and french fries and enjoyed one last calm evening together.
The morning of September 10th came and the hardest part for me was saying goodbye to Ella and Jack. Ella was half awake so I got to talk to her for a little bit but Jack just opened his eyes and looked at me kind of funny before going back to sleep. Isn’t it funny how in motherhood, nothing earth shattering has to happen for you to become emotional?! I hated to leave them; their whole world was about to change and I couldn’t be there to guide them through it myself. Once again, I had to have faith that everything would be alright.
Besides leaving the kids, I felt pretty calm about the future. Excited but not at all nervous. We took an Uber so that my mom could keep our car and the driver clearly wanted to ask us why we were headed to the hospital but he refrained. He talked about baseball with Matthew while I stared out the window. When we told the driver to pull into Labor & Delivery, he knowingly said, “Ohhh okay” and told me good luck. He hadn’t seen me waddle out of the house, I guess 😉
As is customary with just about everywhere these days, when we walked into the lobby, some nurses took our temperature and gave us masks. We checked in and much faster than I expected, we were taken to our pre-op room.
I still felt mostly calm, caught up in the surreality of the situation. When you’re pregnant, it feels like it will never end. But there I was, very nearly at the end. I was about to have my first not-pregnant moments of 2020. We were asked the same questions by the different people attending us. Is this your first? What do you have at home? How old are they? And so on. But I liked talking about Ella and Jack; it made me feel like they were close to me.
The epidural was put in but it was more painful than I remembered it being and that’s when I first started to feel nervous. If this one thing could be different, what other surprises might there be? That thought scared me.
The part that I hate the most was coming up: they would wheel me into the operating room but make Matthew wait outside. I tried to think of a phrase that could comfort me and calm my nerves. That had worked with Jack’s delivery. So over and over again, I said to myself, “There’s nothing bad when you’re getting your baby.” I could block out the chatter of the nurses and ignore the numbness spreading down my legs. I was getting my baby. And then Matthew was there and I didn’t have to face it alone anymore. And then (so quickly, I was barely ready!), the doctor told Matthew to get his camera ready. And there she was! And before I knew it, I was no longer pregnant and this perfect angel, all 19.5 inches and 7 pounds 10 ounces of her, was in my arms.
Now at this point with my last baby, I knew the name instantly. I saw him and he was Jack. That didn’t happen this time. But I didn’t worry about it, I was just so happy that she was finally here. The surgery ended very quickly too (we can talk about staples vs. stitches another time if you’re interested) and I got to see her first bath and all this behind the scenes stuff that Matthew normally has to film for me to watch later. But we still didn’t know her name. We tried calling her one of our frontrunners for a bit but still hadn’t made the final decision. They let me nurse her but it wasn’t very long before this overwhelming nausea came over me. The nurse replaced the baby with a bag and some anti-nausea medication came in through my IV. It made me drowsy and I almost immediately fell asleep. When I woke up, Matthew was standing over me, holding his brand new daughter, and he whispered, “Elizabeth. I think her name is Caroline.”
I couldn’t believe it. We’d discussed the name before but it was always one of my top choices, not his. You see, my little sister is named Caroline. And she’s my best friend in the entire world. And naming a daughter after her was a childhood thought I’d always had. It was a dream I’d forgotten I ever had, coming true. We’d known the middle name for almost my entire pregnancy, before we even knew we were having a girl. Kay is my father-in-law and he has always been so great to me. He has always accepted me; he is loyal and kind and I really wanted to honor him. So Caroline Kay Burton was born on September 10th, 2020. The sweetest name for the sweetest girl.
A few months ago, I worried that a scheduled c-section, something I’d never experienced, wouldn’t be a meaningful experience. It would be sterile and impersonal, like applying for a loan at the bank. I didn’t feel any confusion about Ella’s c-section because it had been an emergency. Jack’s was a strange situation where the birth plan was considered unsafe and I chose to listen to the doctor’s recommendation. I could live with those. But a panic started to set in that with this c-section being nearly dictated to me, I would feel out of control and that my baby’s arrival would be ruined by the circumstances. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Babies are so pure and perfect, they have this power to heal wounds you don’t even have yet. There’s nothing bad when you’re getting your baby, indeed.
I’m still recovering from the c-section but I would go through much worse over and over again for the privilege of bringing these kids into our family. It’s a heavy task but a noble calling and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have done it safely once more.