Elizabeth Smith suffered a severe fracture of the tailbone and two herniated discs in her spine while giving birth to her first child.
Her son got stuck and she stayed enlarged to 9 cm for hours which caused the complications.
The new mom was left in agony and spent the first year of Baby Sawyer unable to walk or pick him up.
The 32-year-old from Ontario, Canada, pleaded for spinal surgery for 15 months. When it finally happened, she decided to celebrate getting back up by walking down the aisle to marry her current husband, Kyle, 37.
She said, “It felt great to finally be able to celebrate as a couple because so much was focused on me being sick and we were new parents.
“We finally became a normal couple, without the burden of chronic pain on our shoulders and the devastating effects on our families.
“My father took me to the altar. Our ceremony only had 32 guests, it was very intimate. I think almost every single guest had a tear at some point because everyone there felt very connected to our trip.
“For so long after Sawyer’s birth, all I could do was walk from my bed to my couch without crying. I was bent in half and people forgot how tall I was when I was bent over. I’m usually 5’11 and it felt amazing to run great to meet my husband. ‘
Elizabeth walks down the aisle (Image: Ted Simpson Photography / Caters)
Before going into labor, Elizabeth had a fairly straightforward pregnancy – but the problems of childbirth left her with life-changing injuries.
She added, “It took the doctors four attempts to give me epidural anesthesia in my spine, but I could still feel everything and stayed at 9 cm for hours.
“To be honest, doctors don’t know exactly what happened. His head got stuck and they used a vacuum to get him out. It was a very stressful, long time.
“I couldn’t lift my son, in the first year he was raised by my parents, I could hardly hold him, my back couldn’t take it, so I couldn’t be alone with him, I would cry in pain.”
“I really wanted to have corrective spine surgery that shaved the intervertebral discs so they wouldn’t hit the nerve that caused me the most pain.”
When asked about the operation, she was told she was too young.
Elizabeth, happy and healthy 8 months pregnant (Image: Caters)
“I was in terrible pain, but I was a young mother, I didn’t know what was normal after giving birth, and my priority was my baby’s health,” she said.
At first she was told it was sciatica, to try physical therapy, but nothing worked.
“I tried everything, but the pain got worse. I felt like someone was stabbing my spine all the time. I asked for an operation but was told no and kept asking for over a year but was told that back surgery would ruin my life, ”she said.
Elizabeth was given medication and pain medication, but that caused her to gain weight and struggle emotionally.
She said, “Some drugs made me gain 25 pounds in two weeks, it was terrible. I spent thousands of dollars on therapy, but I knew the answer was surgery. I needed surgery to survive. ‘
Because of the pain, the daycare worker struggled to take care of her baby.
Elizabeth’s scar after surgery (Image: Caters)
The pain, loss of independence, and problems all affected her mental health and made her feel suicidal.
She said, “My mother came over and picked me up, got me ready, helped me get dressed, my parents, brother and husband took turns looking after me all day.
“I honestly didn’t think I would survive this. It totally destroyed me, I was a strong person, but it killed me. I just wanted to live my life, be a real mother, but I couldn’t function.
“I was slowly getting lost. I had no life at all, I let him down because I couldn’t be the mother he deserved and I hated the guilt that came with that. ‘
13 months after giving birth, doctors finally agreed to put her on a waiting list for surgery.
“I finally felt heard. It was agreed that I would need emergency surgery on my spine.
“I burst into tears when I was given a surgery appointment, it saved my life,” she said.
After the surgery, Elizabeth had to invest another year and more money in her recovery, including yoga and other physical therapy.
Her recovery was slow and Elizabeth said she still does not have the life she had before pregnancy, but is getting better every day.
Elizabeth, Kyle and son Sawyer on their wedding day (Image: @ Ofwilddawnphoto / Caters)
The couple decided to tie the knot in September last year. It was a small family ceremony due to Covid 19, but Elizabeth was thrilled to be able to walk confidently down the aisle – pain free.
She said, “We had focused on our son and my illness for so long that we hadn’t made any serious plans. We wanted to wait until I got better to enjoy the day.
“I don’t think many men would have stayed here. I couldn’t cook, clean, work, or take care of our son. Kyle works in human resources for international defense and he’s my world.
“My father is my greatest supporter, he is my best friend and it meant the world to both of us that he could lead me to the altar.
“It was amazing to be able to do that because I didn’t want to be someone hiding in the house. I didn’t see my friends because I was so embarrassed about the pain and I don’t recognize it. Family and friends could see it on my face. “
Now she feels that she can get on with her life and looks forward to the future.
She said, “I lost the first 18 months with my firstborn child and that made me very depressed, but I’m determined to make it up to me now.
“I had to find the silver lining. We’ve done so much since my surgery – we’ve walked, canoeed, bicycled, and hiked. I am so grateful that I was finally listened to and that I could get my life back, be a mother and finally become a wife. “
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