Adelyn Maelie Susan | a birth story

*Adelyn’s birth story was first featured on my former blog, Display Your He{art}, in 2012. In honor of her 8th birthday this week, I thought I’d share her birth story here on our new blog. To be honest, her birth was fairly traumatic, and I don’t think that when I wrote this post the first time around, I truly understood the impact it had and still has on me and consequentially, her, as well. I was a first time mom and didn’t know what to expect, didn’t know I should have advocated for myself better, and could never have predicted how hard of a recovery I’d have or how difficult of an infant she’d be. Having birthed three more babies since Adelyn, I’ve learned so much that I wish I could tell my first time mom self. At times, I wish I could take back her birth story and have one that’s similar to her brother’s recent birth or even Elsie’s calm birth experience, but that’s not the story we share and ultimately, not the story we’ll tell.

So take a trip back eight years with me to the wild night I met my firstborn! But before we do, here’s a photo of what my blonde beauty looks like today…

     We woke up Saturday, February 25, 2012 and decided to have a lazy morning around the house before Smitty went to work. We made cinnamon rolls, watched some tv, and just spent some quality time together. I was two days past my due date, and knowing I could pop any day now, we wanted to take advantage of our final moments as just the two of us. Shortly before Smitty left for work around 1 pm, I started having mild contractions, pretty similar to the Braxton Hicks I’d been having off and on for several weeks. I honestly didn’t think much about it. We said our good-byes and he headed off to work, while I went out to the mall to meet up with a friend for coffee and some good ol’ “let’s walk this baby out” time.

     By the time I got to the mall, my contractions were fairly consistent, coming 8-12 minutes apart, and were now joined by a dull lower backache. I still didn’t think much about it though, as the contractions weren’t painful and everyone had told me, “When it’s time, you’ll know!” My friend and I spent awhile in Starbucks chatting and then decided to make some laps around the mall to help coax this stubborn little girl out. Keep in mind, I’d already tried all the labor inducing wives tales (walking, exercise ball, Mexican food, etc.) to no avail! As we walked, I decided to start officially timing the contractions. At this point, they were coming every 5-8 minutes, but still not painful. After two laps around the entire mall, I finally decided I should probably head home in case they got more intense and I couldn’t drive. I left the mall at 3:30 pm and called my mom (who lives three hours away) on the way home. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey, don’t get your hopes up or anything, but it’s possible I could be in labor? I proceeded to tell her about the contractions.

Mom: Okay! We’re packing now!

Me: Well, wait…I don’t want to cry wolf or have any false alarms. Maybe I should just wait it out?

Mom: I think you’re in labor. And I am not gonna miss my grandbaby’s birth! Why don’t you call the hospital and just ask what they think then call me back? We’ll get all ready to go in the meantime!

     My mom had fairly fast deliveries with both my sister and me and was so afraid that she was going to miss everything because of the lengthy drive to get to St. Louis. I wasn’t convinced I would progress that quickly and therefore, wasn’t quite as concerned. I hung up with her and called my husband, basically having the same conversation..

Me: Hey, I’m not sure, but I might be in labor? Don’t leave work yet. I’m going to call the hospital and see what they say. I just wanted to give you a heads up!

Smit: Okay! I’ll have my phone on me!

     He was SO excited.

     After I got home, I called the hospital and told them that my contractions were 5-8 minutes apart but still not painful, and that I was 3 cm dilated and 70% effaced at my last appointment. The doctor on call (who isn’t my doctor, but who did my surgery last January and was who we prayed would be the one to deliver should my regular doctor not be there) said, “Well Brittany, I think you’re gonna have a baby today. You better come on in!” I couldn’t believe it was time! I called my mom and Smitty, telling them the news and started getting together the final things for my hospital bag. It was 4:30 pm.

     We arrived at the hospital around 5 pm. I was only 3.5 cm and my effacement hadn’t changed, but I was definitely having consistent contractions. They told us to walk around for an hour and they’d recheck me, but were fairly confident I’d stay. We returned from our walk around 6:30 and I had progressed to a 4 with 80% effacement. Still not much change, but they were hopeful that once I hit a 5, I’d progress much quicker. So, we waited.

     My family arrived around 8:00, and by that time, my back was killing me with each contraction. Still no abdominal or true labor pains – at least not what I would expect – but my back pain was enough for me to be uncomfortable with each contraction. My mom and Smitty took turns applying counter-pressure throughout the entire process.

     After some discussion with the nurse, resident, and the doctor on call, we decided around 10 pm to go ahead and break my water. Within minutes, I was writhing in pain. I did NOT expect it to get that intense that quickly!! It didn’t take long for my nurse to offer an epidural. I moaned in agreement, and at 10:28 pm, the anesthesiologist came in to give it to me.

     Once the epidural was in place, we waited until I started to feel some of its effects. After a few minutes, my contractions got less intense and I was starting to feel much better. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long.

     Shortly after my epidural and while my pain was still under control, the nurse checked me again and said I was at a 6 and over 90% effaced! I had already begun to progress quickly, but my contractions were starting to slow down. My nurse was about to go on her break, but said she’d recheck me when she got back, and if my contractions weren’t picking up, we’d start Pitocin. I really didn’t want Pitocin, but was willing to discuss it and just cross that bridge if we got there. My nurse left, and less than 15 minutes later, I started feeling some serious pressure that quickly intensified into a deep pain. After trying to tough out multiple contractions, I began to get the sense that something wasn’t right. I don’t have the highest pain tolerance, but I was pretty sure you weren’t supposed to feel this much pain with an epidural on board. As the pressure and pain began to get overwhelming, we paged the nurse. She came in laughing, saying there’s no way I should be feeling that much “almost-have-to-push” pressure already. She went ahead and rechecked me…I was at an 8!

     We decided we needed to call the anesthesiologist back in and see what was wrong and if he could redose me. He tried to readjust the epidural to see if it was placed wrong. He also ended up giving me Fentanyl (I didn’t know that at the time), which quickly made me incredibly hazy. The combination of the two suddenly made my upper body go almost completely numb. My head was too heavy to lift, my arms and hands not strong enough to even grasp a tube of chapstick, and my breathing was labored! The next stretch of time is all fuzzy to me. I remember not opening my eyes for awhile. I felt exhausted and was still in pain. The redosing still wasn’t taking the proper effect and each contraction grew with intensity, making the entire process a giant leap from what I had anticipated for my birthing experience.

    It didn’t take long for the pressure to become nearly unbearable, so my nurse checked me once more…9.5 cm! Everyone was shocked that I was progressing so rapidly. Even me. I’d gone from a 6 to a 10 in 45 minutes! We’re pretty sure that’s part of the reason why the epidural wasn’t working effectively. My body was moving faster than the drugs could keep up with. My nurse told me she was going to start getting things ready and that we’d begin pushing very soon.

     At 1 am, everything was set up and ready to go, and I began pushing. I was struggling because my brain and upper body were still feeling sluggish. I could barely lift my arms to grab hold of my legs. My husband and mom did a great job being supportive, physically and emotionally, throughout the whole process. About halfway through, my nurse stopped me and called in the resident because I was starting to lose more blood than she was comfortable with. The resident said we shouldn’t be too concerned, everything looked okay, and to carry on. So we did. We later learned that I had already begun to tear internally at that point.

     At 2 am, after 1 hour of pushing, the team told me to lay on my side, cross my legs, and not push anymore. She was crowning, and they still needed to call the doctor, so I needed to hold that baby in! Are you kidding me?! At that point, almost all the feeling in my legs had returned and my back was still killing me. It only took the doctor 15 minutes to arrive, but it felt like centuries! I was so relieved to see her walk into the room. She’s a phenomenal OB and even though I’m not her regular patient, she has always taken the time to really invest in my care. We were so impressed with her after my surgery last January and were thrilled that she was on call to deliver when my actual OB couldn’t be there. She quickly moved about the room, assessing the situation, asking why my pain wasn’t under control, and trying to prevent further tearing. We tried through three contractions to adapt my pushing style in an attempt to aid in this process, unfortunately, too much damage was already done. Finally, she looked me straight in the eye, and said, “Brittany, look at me. I need you to push. We are going to have this baby right now.” So I did. I gave one more push and she pulled our sweet baby girl out.

     I didn’t get to see her or hold her right away because both of us were running low grade fevers and they needed to make sure everything was okay before they brought her to me. Daddy got to take lots of pictures throughout the process, however, and I am so so grateful for that. Dr. Walsh and the resident began delivering the placenta and suturing me up, a process that would take over an hour and a half. I had sustained both internal tearing and external 4th degree tears.

     After they determined that she was healthy and the fever was no longer a concern, they brought her over to me to hold. Finally!

     She was (and is) so beautiful. I couldn’t believe she was here. After all this time, all this waiting, all the prayers..she was finally here. Adelyn Maelie Susan Smith. Born on February 26 at 2:39 am. Weighing in at 8 lbs 1 oz and 20″ long. We are so in love.  I just remember thinking how much she looked like her daddy. And I was shocked that she was over 8 lbs! I couldn’t believe I’d grown such a big, healthy baby!!

  We are so grateful and humbled by this privilege to be her parents, to raise this sweet baby in the Lord. We are so excited about the years ahead and can’t wait to see her develop into a beautiful woman of God. We are also extremely blessed with a fantastic family who loves this little girl like crazy. We only wish her Grandma Sue, who she is named after, could be here to meet her, to hold her, to love on her too. What an incredible reminder of God’s grace and blessings even in the midst of a season of grieving and loss, though!

     I must admit our lives are pretty crazy right now with a newborn at home. I’m definitely starting to feel a bit over my head at times when I think about being a work at home mom and all of the new jobs that just got added to my plate. I know there will be days that are harder than others, trying to figure out how I’m going to be a mom and a wife and an artist all at the same time, but I’m so excited about what lies ahead! I’m trusting that God will provide strength when I feel like I have none. Energy when I’m exhausted. Grace when I feel like giving up. And mostly, joy in the journey. What an amazing journey I know it will be!

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