Adelyn Maelie Susan | a birth story

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!

Elsie Norah Faye | a birth story

Elsie Norah Faye | a birth story


*This blog post was first featured on my former blog, Display Your He{art}, in 2014. Now that we have a new family blog, I thought it would be fun to share again here on Elsie’s 6th birthday! Reading through it again, all of the anticipation we felt to meet our second babe comes flooding back. It’s also fascinating to see how my perspective on birth has changed now that we’ve had a successful home birth.

Elsie has brought so much joy and laughter into our home and we are so incredibly thankful she’s ours. Before you head down memory lane with me, here’s a photo of our sweet girl now…

March 5, 2014

Our sweet Elsie is 8 days old today, and she’s just about as precious as they come. After all of the craziness from the past month – bedrest, pre-term labor (twice!), and RSV – we are so thankful that she’s finally here! I’ve never wanted to be one of those pregnant ladies who wished my pregnancy away, but honestly, by the time last week rolled around, I was SO ready for her to arrive! The end of my pregnancy was pretty far from anything I would’ve hoped for and heading into delivery via induction two weeks early, while still being so sick certainly made me a bit discouraged, but God was so gracious and gave us an incredibly smooth and beautiful birth experience in the midst of it all.

     At my appointment on Monday morning, my doctor told me that it was probably time to get this baby out. She had been concerned for over a week, and due to my persistent illness, my pre-existing heart condition, and the size of my baby, she decided we needed to induce as soon as we could. Induction is not anything I would have planned or hoped for as the risk for difficult labors and c-sections increases greatly; however, I trusted my doctor and really sensed she was right in knowing that Elsie needed to be delivered soon. She wanted to induce later that afternoon, but we decided I could wait until the next day, which would give us time to make arrangements for everything. They told me I would definitely be induced on Tuesday, but had no idea when that would be. I was to receive a phone call sometime Tuesday morning letting me know when I could come in for the induction. I assumed it would be later in the day since I was getting on the schedule fairly last minute. Imagine my surprise when I received a 6 am wake-up call on Tuesday saying they were ready for us!

     I woke Smitty up and we both started getting all of our final things together. I called my family and told them it was “go time!” so they could get on the road as well. We woke Adelyn up and headed into the hospital – our last trip as a family of three.

Sorry for the terrible iPhone photo quality!

  We arrived at the hospital a little after 8 am and were immediately checked in and taken upstairs to a birthing suite. We got settled in and then…waited. My doctor wanted to break my water herself so we waited on her to arrive. In the meantime, we got the word out to our friends and family that it was baby havin’ day! We said good-bye to Adelyn as a dear friend came to pick her up for the day and the reality of how different our lives would be in just a few short hours began to set in. A mix of emotions coursed through me. I was so eager to meet this little girl who had been growing inside of me, making her presence known through my bruised rib (she was a kicker!) and her constant hiccups for so long, but at the same time, I was anxious about being induced and frustrated that I still didn’t feel 100% because of the RSV. I so badly wanted to have a stronger voice in my birth experience this time around, but the combination of an induction mixed with the fact that I was still coughing my brains out made me feel like I didn’t even have the option of control in the process. I had spent 9 months praying for a better birth experience than my last, planning how I would respond in each scenario, and yet here I was in a completely unpredictable situation, feeling out of control again. God sure has a way of teaching me to trust His plan over mine, though!

     Around 11:30 am, my doctor came into my room and broke my water. We also met with the anesthesiologist, explaining the terrible experience I had with my first delivery. She was confident that, should I choose to get an epidural, it wouldn’t happen again.  I am so thankful that we were all able to have that meeting and get on the same page. After the anesthesiologist left, my doctor told me to sit on the birthing ball for the next hour to see if contractions would pick up and if I would begin to progress at all.

     I had come into the hospital at 5 cm dilated and about 75% effaced thanks to my pre-term labor 3 weeks prior. At 12:30 pm, my nurse came in to recheck me and my contractions had just begun to become consistent at about 3 minutes apart. They weren’t painful, I just felt them as pressure more than anything. We decided to wait on the cervical check and give me a little more time to move things along.

     At 1 pm, I asked if I could walk the halls. I wasn’t in active labor yet, but really felt like if I could get up and move around, my body would progress fairly quickly. My parents had just arrived and while the boys went to grab a quick lunch, my mom and I started walking the halls. It was close to 1:30 pm. I made two laps around our hospital floor – one with my mom and one with Smit – and by the end of the 2nd lap, my contractions were coming about 2 minutes apart and I was having to slow down and breathe through each one. As soon as we got back into the room, I had three contractions back to back that were 1 minute apart and suddenly super intense. I told my family to call the nurse to recheck me. She came in right away and let me know that I was at a 6. I was definitely in active labor and progressing now!!

    A few more intense contractions later, and my nurse asked if I wanted my epidural. Throughout my pregnancy, Smitty and I had often discussed what my birth plan for this baby would be. Initially, I had planned to attempt to have a med-free delivery, but given how sick I still was and how difficult it was for me to breathe due to the cough and congestion plus the added variable of an induction, I decided it probably would be best for me to get an epidural at this point. I have no shame or guilt over this decision – I truly believe it was the best decision for both me and my baby and in the end, I am so thankful that I got it! (Bonus – it actually worked this time!)

     The anesthesiologists came in sometime around 2:30 pm to place the epidural and I was finally able to relax a bit. See before epidural…

…and after epidural!

      I got rechecked me as soon as the epidural was placed, and and I was at 8 cm. Within 25 minutes, I was starting to feel a ton of pressure and suddenly began to shake uncontrollably with each contraction. Although the contractions weren’t necessarily painful, the pressure was obvious and I knew that it was probably about time to start pushing. I called the nurse who said I was at 10 cm and that she would call the doctor right away. This was such a huge difference from my first delivery where I did all of my pushing with the nurses and the doctor arrived at the last minute to literally catch the baby. We now know that this was a huge reason for much of my tearing the first time around. I had no one to advocate for me or my body, no one who knew my history, no one to speak up when things didn’t go as planned. My doctor was sure to not let that happen this time, and what a tremendous answer to prayer she was!

     She entered the room around 3 pm and with a calm, but assertive sense about her and began to walk me through the entire pushing process. I began pushing a little before 3:15 pm. She immediately noticed that the baby was facing sideways instead of being face down so we spent the first 20-25 minutes just trying to turn the baby. She busted out the baby shampoo (yep, you read that right!) and began to coax Elsie’s head down and into the proper position. With Smitty on one side and my mom on the other, I pushed for close to 45 minutes and it was honestly such a beautiful experience! With Adelyn, my pain was out of control, my mind hazy, and my anxiety high. This birth experience was worlds apart. The room was calm and there was a certain sweet spirit within it. Every push was a step closer to meeting my littlest girl. Every ounce of pressure or pain I felt was a reminder of the precious gift I was about to hold in my arms.

     We’d been having trouble getting Elsie’s big head over the ridge in my pelvic bone, so on my last two contractions, my doctor slid her arms under my tailbone and essentially folded my body in half, pushing her head out. Because of this position, I was only inches away from my baby girl as she made her entrance into the world! I remember just saying, “Whoa! Wow! Oh my gosh, she’s right there!” 

And in just an instant, there she was…big and beautiful and in my arms!

      Elsie Norah Faye Smith arrived on February 25 at 3:55 pm, weighing in at 8 lbs 7 oz and 20.5 inches long. She was born two weeks earlier than we anticipated, but incredibly healthy and such a perfect little blessing! Her birth experience began much differently than I planned, but in the end, we truly were able to have the birth we had prayed for all those months. The next morning, as my mom and I were discussing it, she told me she felt like she was almost at a home birth. Everything was so personal, so intimate. Instead of the sterile, distant hospital birth so often controlled by staff, we were able to actively participate in the process and be truly up close and personal as we welcomed our daughter into the world.

    My recovery has also been a thousand times better than it was with Adelyn. I only had a small 1st degree tear from a controlled, linear episiotomy. I was up walking later that evening (which is 3 weeks sooner than I could say with Adelyn) and have had minimal pain overall. I am so tremendously grateful for a smooth and quick delivery, an excellent doctor and nursing staff, a healthy baby girl, and a fairly easy recovery. I’m also so thankful for the support of my husband and my family and friends who helped during that day and the days to follow. What a gift!

     We are smitten with Miss Elsie. She is the squishiest, snuggliest little girl and it such a joy to be her parents. Adelyn, while a bit apathetic about her baby sister at first, has been fantastic so far. She even woke up this morning saying, “Baby Elsie! Where are you??” It’s so sweet to see them interact and I can’t wait to see their relationship grow over the years!

     And finally, thank you to everyone who has been praying for us along the way. It truly has meant the world to us to know that so many have been interceding on our behalf. God has been gracious to us and we are profoundly grateful.