everett hudson gadd: a birth story

Our alarm went off at 7:00am and unlike most days, we both hopped out of bed right away. Brett went downstairs to enjoy breakfast while my stomach growled loudly in the shower. I was hungry and thirsty, and slightly irritated that a scheduled c-section required 12 hours of fasting. I prayed in the shower, the first of many prayers that morning. I took my time, washing my hair slowly and reminding myself that I probably wouldn’t have another good shower for a while. Brett and I stood at our sinks smiling at each other in the mirror. He brushed his teeth; I put on some makeup. We hardly talked at all aside from the occasional, “Can you believe we get to meet our son in FOUR HOURS?!!”

The drive to the hospital was a blur. I thought of the woman whose c-section was scheduled at 9:00am that morning before ours. I wondered how many other women across the world were having scheduled c-sections that day. I looked at the clock. It was 8:40am, only three hours before I would meet my son.

We pulled up to the parking lot and my photographer friend Sarah was already there waiting. She started snapping photos of us through the windshield and I smiled and waved. It was nice to see a familiar face.

We walked into the hospital together at 9:00am and were promptly taken to my prep room where I changed into one of my pretty Annie & Isabel gowns. Sarah was snapping pictures right and left, cracking jokes the entire time. I was thankful for her presence, and grateful for the light mood of the room.

One of the nurses came in and hooked me up to a monitor to check the baby’s heartbeat. They did one last ultrasound to make sure Everett was still in the breech position, which he was.

At 10:15 our parents came in to pray over us. Everyone was smiling from ear to ear and excitement filled the room as we joined hands around my bed. Brett, my dad, and his dad took turns praying for me, Everett, and our doctor. As soon as the collective “Amen” was heard, I knew it was time. We hugged and kissed everyone, promising to send updates as soon as we could.

Once our room was empty again, my nurse Kris came in to give Brett and I our surgery gear. I just needed a cap, but Brett required a full on “bunny suit”. I told him if anyone could pull off a bunny suit, it was him.

Shortly after 11:00 I was summoned to the operating room, where I would be without Brett for 20-25 minutes. We kissed one last time before I walked down the hall to get prepped for surgery. My heart started to beat a little bit faster, but all things considered, I was still miraculously calm.

I walked into the operating room with Kris and met Kelly, the anesthesiologist. The room was bright and sterile, but in that moment, it became a sanctuary for me. There wasn’t a tub or candles or music, but it didn’t matter. In less than an hour my son would be born in that room, and because of that, it became perfect to me.

I stepped on a small stool to get up on the table, as Kelly prepped my back for the spinal block. She told me to relax and bend forward.

“First I’m going to numb you before administering the medicine. This will feel like a little bee sting….are you ready?”

I nodded my head and leaned forward on Kris, my arms around her shoulders. She kept me perfectly still, which was important.

“Okay, good. Now I’m going to give you the spinal block. This will numb you from any pain, and you’ll feel it slowly start to travel through your body.”

I was still leaning forward on Kris, but could feel the medicine entering my back. It almost felt like ice was shooting though my veins, and I started to feel very tingly. Once she was done, her and Kris helped me lie down flat on the table. I could slowly feel myself getting numb.

“You’ll start to feel more and more numb over the next few minutes,” she reassured me.

As soon as I was situated, the prep began. A sheet was pulled up right below my chest and I could hear a few more people in the room, sterilizing tools and chatting with each other. Kelly asked me every few minutes how I was feeling, and I told her I was feeling more and more numb. I wasn’t trying to move, but my whole body felt like it was falling asleep.

“Good,” she said, “Let’s test you….can you feel this?”

I felt a tiny bit of pressure on my inner thigh.

“Yes!!! I can feel it!!!”

OH MY GOSH. Whatever you do lady, DON’T CUT!!!!!!!

“Okay, but it didn’t hurt, right?” she asked calmly.

“Well….no….but I still felt it!”

She smiled and explained to me that the spinal block would numb me from pain, but not numb me from feeling. She told me that they had just pinched me extremely hard and had I really felt it, I would have winced or at least said ouch.

“Don’t worry. We will make sure you don’t feel any pain during the operation. I promise.”

I wanted to believe her, but part of me didn’t.

“Alright Ashlee, we are going to bring your husband in now.”

A minute later Brett walked through the door, wearing his sterile spacesuit and a giant smile. Kris showed him where to sit, and he plopped down next to me and grabbed my hand.

“Are you okay? Can you believe this? We’re about to meet our son!”

He was so excited, I almost started to cry right then and there. The next four minutes were a blur. The doctor came in, said hi to me over to the sheet, and the next thing I knew, we were ready to start.

This is happening SO FAST. God, keep my baby safe!

Brett gripped my hand tightly, and smiled at me. We didn’t talk, we just looked at each other.

“Okay Ashlee, we’ve started,” Kelly said, “If you were feeling any pain, you certainly would have let us know by now.”

AKA, they were cutting into my body and I wasn’t screaming. Well, that’s a relief. I could feel pressure around my abdomen, and the top of my body was shaking from left to right. It felt like they were tugging and pulling on my organs, but it didn’t hurt at all. I had a whole new appreciation for modern day medicine. I stared at Brett and he stared back at me.

“Are you okay??” he asked.

I nodded. I couldn’t talk. I was waiting to hear the cry. The doctors and nurses were talking through the procedure but that thin blue sheet might as well have been soundproof because I wasn’t processing anything they were saying. Kelly was giving me occasional updates but I wasn’t even listening. My ears were waiting on one sound and one sound only: my baby’s cry.

“Ashlee, we’re ready to pull him out. You are going to feel a lot of pressure, okay?”

I started to cry.

This is it!!! It’s happening!!!

My body was rocking back and forth on the table, and I felt one big last tug. And then, THE CRY. It was the best sound I have ever heard in my whole life. Tears were streaming down my face as I looked to my left to see him brought to the warmer.

“He’s peeing! He’s pooping!” one of the nurses exclaimed. I heard some of them laughing and felt an instant sense of relief. If he came out crying, peeing, and pooping, clearly everything was working properly.

My eyes were fixated on the warmer as I saw him come into view. Brett squeezed my hand.

“That’s our son!!! He’s right there babe….our son!”

I still couldn’t talk. Everett and I were both just crying and crying. He was perfect. Part Brett and part me, he was perfect. I couldn’t believe we made him.

“Would you like to cut the cord?” one of the nurses asked Brett.

I watched in awe as my husband of almost five years stood over my baby boy. The love I had for both of them overwhelmed me.

“Hey Everett! It’s me….your daddy!”

Thirty seconds later, Everett’s nurse was placing him on my chest under a warm towel. It took him a few seconds to stop crying, and then we studied each other, his little hand wrapped around Brett’s finger. I could still feel the doctor tugging and pulling on my body as she put me back together, but in that moment, as cliche as it sounds, it felt like we were the only three people in the room. The blue sheet above my chest created a haven for our first moments together. Nobody talked to us. Nobody touched Everett. Everyone in the room left us completely alone for the 25 minutes it took for them to stitch me up. I felt like the bottom half of my body was completely detached from the top. One side of the blue sheet was practically a scene out of Grey’s Anatomy while the other side carefully protected our first moments as a family.

I was so content there, I could have stayed in surgery for two more hours like that with Everett on my chest and Brett by my side. I was in love. More than in love. The peace and gratitude that accompanied the joy I felt was more intense than love.

Once they were done stitching me back together, Everett’s nurse picked him up and handed him to Brett so they could transfer me to a new bed. They inflated a small mattress under my body, picked it up (with me on top), and shifted me to a rollaway bed next to the table. Everett was immediately placed back on my chest, as Kris rolled me down the hall to my recovery room with Brett walking next to us.

Sarah started snapping pictures right away, as Brett and I continued to stare in amazement at our baby boy. My heart ached for him.

And then, I started to feel sick. Really sick. Up until that point, I wasn’t even aware that nausea was a common side effect of anesthesia.

“I think I’m going to be sick.”

The words had barely left my mouth when Kris handed me a bucket and I started throwing up. I continued to throw up, on and off, for the next nine hours. It was miserable, but all things considered, a relatively small price to pay. The nausea came on quickly and left quickly. One minute I’d be holding Everett and laughing, the next I’d be puking violently. There was no in between; I was either feeling great or feeling terrible.

At one point, I was holding Everett in my arms when I knew I was going to be sick. I’ll never forget Brett quickly instructing Sarah to grab Everett so he could hold a bucket up to my face. I had a flashback to our pre-marriage counseling when our pastor told us that no matter how much we loved our children, we should always love each other more. Brett had been a father for less than an hour and was already demonstrating that love to me. When given the choice between holding our newborn baby and tending to my vomit, he chose the latter. It was gross, but it’s also something I’ll never forget. The love and romance in our marriage is not always glamorous, but it’s always there. And for that, I am thankful.

Despite being sick, we spent three wonderful hours together just the three of us, bonding as a new family. Kris weighed and measured him, and took his footprints.

Finally it was time for our family to meet Everett. Everyone took turns coming in to visit in small groups of two and three. Sometimes I was barfing and sometimes I wasn’t, but nobody seemed to mind. They all just wanted to hold Ev and smother him with love. At that point I was receiving both pain meds and anti-nausea meds, but the pain medication was winning. I wasn’t in pain, but I was still sick.

By 7:00 that night we were alone again, and Brett went to the cafeteria to get dinner. While he was inhaling pizza, I was munching on ice chips, still too sick to eat. Around 9:00pm that night I was feeling better, and with the help of Brett and a nurse, was able to sit in a chair. I also ate a popsicle, which I immediately threw up.

We went to sleep around 10:00pm that night—me in my bed, Brett in a pullout chair, and Everett in his little rolling bassinet. The night nurse checked on us every few hours, but for the most part we were left alone. I wasn’t able to get out of bed so anytime Everett cried, Brett had to get up to hand him to me. That was our first sleepless night, but we were so happy we didn’t even mind.

The next morning I was feeling much, much better. I was on different pain medication that wasn’t making me nauseous and I woke up starving. I had not eaten anything but a popsicle in 36 hours. Breakfast arrived at 7:30am and while I had been instructed to eat slowly, I gobbled up that french toast like it was my job. It was DELICIOUS. After breakfast, I was feeling well enough to walk so Brett and I took Ev for a slow stroll around the hospital.

We stayed in the hospital two and a half more days while I recovered from surgery. Everett never left our sight during that time, and I was thankful for our hospital’s 24/7 rooming in policy. Every checkup, every test, and every bath was done in our room.

By the time we were discharged on Thursday afternoon, I felt surprisingly good. I was ready to bring my baby home.


We’ve been home for a month now, and I really can’t express in words how much I love being a mother. It’s like I’ve been given a whole new purpose in this life. I still find myself staring at Everett in awe, the same way I stared at him the day he was born. It feels surreal to know that he is my baby….that God would trust me with such a treasure.

Things that used to matter don’t matter as much, if at all. I’m covered in spit-up on most days, and rarely shower before 3:00pm. My house is a mess. There is no food in the fridge. The laundry is out of control. And I don’t even care, about any of it. So long as Everett is happy, I’m happy. He is teaching me to be patient and selfless, among other things. He makes me smile every single day, and has brought a whole new level of joy into our home. I can’t imagine a life without him. Truth be told, I can’t even imagine having a girl now. I’m head over heels in love with my sweet, perfect boy.

I always thought I wanted two kids, but after meeting Everett, I could easily do this two or three more times. Don’t tell the grandmas.

Until next time…

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52 Responses to everett hudson gadd: a birth story

  1. Sarabell says:

    Oh goodness Ashlee I can’t read your blog anymore, it just makes me sob! =] Such a beautiful story.
    Sarabell´s last blog post ..Check Out This Place 8!

  2. Jasmine says:

    I’m crying all over the place. This was so sweet and makes me feel like I just CAN’T wait until I get to meet my little baby in the fall. 🙂

  3. Briel K. says:

    Beautiful story Ashlee! (minus the vomiting. ;)) Thank you for sharing your story with us!

  4. Angeline says:

    You are such a champ! Thanks for sharing these beautiful moments with us.
    Angeline´s last blog post ..Loves | Links

  5. Alycia says:

    he is beautiful!! what a precious face and the photos are amazing! congraulations!
    Alycia´s last blog post ..Bookmark Dump

  6. Erin says:

    Wow. Such a lovely story. I have been following (lurking, really) your blog for a few months and have so enjoyed reading about your journey to becoming a mama. Congratulations and well done– he’s beautiful!
    Erin´s last blog post ..around these parts

  7. Lisamarie says:

    Oh… I love your birth story. My best friend had a c-section in April because her baby boy Will was breach. My sister also had a c-section because she has a heart problem that couldn’t take the stress of labor. My sister was so very sick after the surgery also becasue of the anesthesia. She seems to have had a similar experience as you. Throwing up non-stop. She shook and was basically out of it most of the first day. I felt so bad for her. But we carried on the celebration of her daughter’s birth with my sister throwing up. We had champagne toasts all day long. I took so many pictures. You poor girls and your sickness. But what a small price to pay, right?

  8. Stephany says:

    Oh goodness. Tears at work. He is just precious. I can feel the love emanating from this blog post, but I’m sure it’s magnified x1000 in real life. Thanks for sharing your story. Everett is adorable!
    Stephany´s last blog post ..Five For Friday

  9. Alli Moore says:

    Such a beautiful and well written story Ashlee! You are already an incredible mother and on some level, Everett already knows and feels this everyday 😉 You make me excited to be a mom!

  10. what a beautiful birthday story and yeah you got to meet your son. what beautiful pictures of your little family.
    Julie@my5monkeys´s last blog post ..Beyond the Blog -ArmchairBEA

  11. Kitty Tate says:

    I am crying! That was beautiful.

  12. Jamee Sims says:

    Beautiful. I dont even know you and Im crying like a baby. So happy for you and your family and so excited to start mine.


  13. Lana V says:

    Seriously crying here. Love birth stories! You’re right–being a mom gives you the best purpose in the world. So thrilled for you, Brett and Ev. Sigh. Being a mom is the best. Congrats!

  14. Holly says:

    What a beautiful story, Ashlee. I’m so happy for your little family! Reading this makes me really excited for when I become a mother someday, too 🙂
    Holly´s last blog post ..Summer Bucket List

  15. kelly ann says:

    I actually cried the ENTIRE time I read this. So happy you have Everett, and that he has you. Lovelovelove. xo.
    kelly ann´s last blog post ..instagram // the inspirations.

  16. Mitzie says:

    Beautiful love story, Ashlee! I did not skip over the fact that you could do this many more times.
    I cannot wait to start babysitting Everett!!!!

  17. Gina says:

    This is one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read. Thank you for sharing it. <3

  18. Ashley says:

    OH MY GOODNESS… I easily just cried nine times while reading that story. What a blessing Everett is, I am so happy for you! Where did you deliver? Seems like an amazing hospital. Congratulations!
    Ashley´s last blog post ..Cousins Say Hello [& other updates]

  19. Paulette Hawes says:

    Dearest Ashlee –

    Your birth story was told so beautifully and honestly. And Everett is such a joy! I love being a Grandma!!

    Love, Mom

  20. Kelly says:

    Love love love 1000 times. So beautiful!

  21. SushiMama says:

    I heart birth stories. I’m so happy you had a wonderful experience, even if it wasn’t what you had originally planned. Everett is such a handsome little guy!
    SushiMama´s last blog post ..Dr. and Mrs.

  22. Liz says:

    Oh my goodness, could not have loved this any more. What a beautiful story, beautifully written! I can feel the passion you have for Brett and Everett through your words. Incredible. Congrats again!!!

  23. Kim says:

    ASHLEE!!! I don’t know you but I am just so happy for you! The kind of happy that is going to come to mind midday today. I just know it. I’m so thankful that everything went will with Everett’s delivery and that you are home and doing well. God is so good =-)
    Kim´s last blog post ..Soundtrack of My Life

  24. elise says:

    LOVE. xo.
    elise´s last blog post ..project life : week 22.

  25. Aw, yay! Isn’t it so freaking awesome you can hardly believe it?

    I can’t believe you got sick for nine hours. How awful! I’ve heard it said that vaginal birth, you get all the pain BEFORE the baby and with c-sections, you get all the pain AFTER the baby. Seems like you got all the vomit after the baby. Poor thing! 🙁

    I’m happy for you guys. Drink up this time together. <3
    Ashley // Our Little Apartment´s last blog post ..Summer 2012 – Stuff We’re Gonna Do.

  26. Laura Doyle says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your birth story! Its such a personal experience. I’m also grateful you shared your c-section story because finding positive c/s birth stories is rare (at least written up), but this is a great one.

    Gives me hope that if I need a c/s for future babies that it can be better than Ellie’s birth. Your experience is so drastically different than mine was… walking to the OR? Crazy! 20-25 minutes before Brett comes in? Also crazy. I think it was 10 mins from the time they said, “you need a c/s” until Ellie was OUT of my stomach…
    Anyway, thank you!
    Laura Doyle´s last blog post ..Front Porch Protection

    • Ashlee says:

      I think the differences between emergency c-sections and scheduled c-sections are pretty drastic. Overall I had a really positive experience, but I don’t think any of my friends who had emergency c-sections would say the same. I hope your future birth(s) are not as traumatic as Ellie’s!

  27. Suzy Marie says:

    Ahh this is so beautiful! I’m glad you had such a wonderful experience, and congratulations on your beautiful little boy 🙂
    Suzy Marie´s last blog post ..The State Of Things

  28. This is most certainly the sweetest birth story I’ve ever read.
    jennifer blair´s last blog post ..One Frame | beach beauty

  29. Katie says:

    Oh this is just so incredibly beautiful and got me crying over here. Everett is beautiful. Congratulations once again to you and Brett!

  30. Elly says:

    Oh lady, I’m glad you guys are happy and healthy – lovely birth story, hey 🙂
    Elly´s last blog post ..Tahrir Square – 1st of December 2011

  31. Bridget says:

    That was beautifully written! Anyone can tell by reading your words that motherhood definitely suits you. Congrats on little Everett. He is one gorgeous and incredibly lucky little boy.

  32. Lottie says:

    This made me cry. I loved your words!

    And Everett is so adorable!
    Lottie´s last blog post ..This weekend:

  33. Oh my word mama, this is beyond beautiful. So so thrilled for you and your sweet, perfect bebe!

  34. San says:

    What an amazing birth story, Ashlee. Considering the fact that you were devastated by the prospect of having a c-section, I think you have a wonderful and very special story to tell your son!
    So happy for you and your little perfect family!
    San´s last blog post ..A culinary trip to Spain

  35. Kelsey says:

    I just started reading your blog, but I wanted to tell you how much love and peace I felt through your birth story. It was beautiful, and you make a beautiful mother.

  36. Anna says:

    Ashlee, this is so beautiful. I teared up numerous times. What an amazing thing to have all of this captured through photos also. So happy for you. Congrats on your perfect baby boy!
    Anna´s last blog post ..And We’re Back…

  37. Congratulations on your new bundle…you have such beautiful writing.

  38. Sue Hepner says:

    Finally took the time to read this. Sobbing now. Gave me a new perspective on my day, that’s for sure.

  39. Kate says:

    what a beautiful story ! and i love that you have these pictures to remember the day…what a great idea.
    Kate´s last blog post ..Olympics: All Day, Every Day

  40. Pingback: Welcome Everett! (A birth story) | Sarah Maren Photographers

  41. Sweet. And such beautiful pictures. How smart you were to hire a photographer to capture those precious moments. Even the ones someone took for you in the OR are very good.
    Mary @ Fit and Fed´s last blog post ..Brunost!

  42. Heather says:

    I stumbled upon your blog when googling “babywise tips” since we beginning to implement it with our 8 week old son — who is also named Everett! Everett Simon. I then browsed the rest of your beautiful site and read this birth story. Our little guy was born via c-section as well. Thanks for sharing this heart felt and honest story. Blessings to you and your family!

  43. Pingback: everett’s baby book. | Where My Heart Resides

  44. Three and a half weeks ago we had our son by unplanned c-section as well. We shared the whole, daunting and detailed First Birth Story – Not According to Plan. Although everything was different than expected and overwhelming at the time, we are a stronger family from it and are simply happy to have our baby boy in the world 🙂 Oh, and the daddy’s have matching marshmallow suits!
    First House Spouse´s last blog post ..First Birth Story – Not According to Plan

  45. Hillary says:

    I just wanted to say “thank you!”. I found this blog when I googled information about breech babies, and it was a God-send. Last week, I had my 36 week ultrasound to check the baby and they found out he was breech. I was devastated. I read your post about the day you found out, and I was just thankful that someone went through the same thought process as I had. So I kept reading to find out if the baby ever flipped or if you had to have the surgery. I have been laying upside down with frozen edamame on my stomach and headphones in my pants for a few days and so far, he’s still enjoying the head up position. I keep saying that I trust God and as long as the baby is healthy it will be fine either way he comes into the world, but it is hard to let go of what I wanted and hoped for the last 9 months (and really all my life). Thank you for sharing this adventure so positively! So many people talk negatively about their c-sections and it is really scary, but your story was comforting to me. Thank you so much for sharing and being brave enough to trust that God knows what is best.

  46. Pingback: the c-section elephant in the room. | Where My Heart Resides

  47. Christy says:

    I came across your birth story when I was searching for c-section stories. Now you have me crying in Panera! Exquisitely written and the photos are just beautiful! I’m a fellow believer so I found the photo of your family praying with you before the procedure especially touching.

    I recently started a new site, Birth Memoirs. My heart behind the site is to feature stories that celebrate ALL types of birth. Because we’re new and there aren’t as many out there, I’m having trouble getting positive c-section stories to include.

    I would love to feature Everett’s story! If you’re interested, please take a look at the site and there is a form you can use to submit: http://birthmemoirs.com/submit-your-story/

    Thanks for considering, and either way, congratulations on a beautiful birth and wonderfully encouraging story!


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