I felt suicidal after breaking spine giving birth but recovered enough to walk down the aisle after life-saving surgery

A MUM who broke her spine while giving birth has managed to walk down the aisle after undergoing  life changing surgery. 

Elizabeth Smith said that she was left suicidal after suffering from a serious fracture to her tailbone when she gave birth to her first child Sawyer. 

The 32-year-old ended up with two herniated discs in her spine after the complicated birth, which left her in unbearable pain and afterwards she was left suicidal until she was finally given spinal surgery.

Elizabeth, who got engaged in October 2019, decided to celebrate the victory of being back on her feet by planning her wedding and was able to walk down the aisle to her now husband, Kyle, 37, pain free last September.

Elizabeth, from Ontario, Canada said: "It felt amazing to finally get to celebrate us as a couple because so much focus had been on me being ill and us being new parents.

"We finally just got to be a normal couple who didn't have the weight of chronic pain on our shoulders and the devastating effect that had on our family.

"My dad walked me down the aisle. Our ceremony only had 32 guests, it was extremely intimate. I think almost every single guest had a tear at some point because everyone there felt very connected to our journey.

"For so long after Sawyer was born, I couldn't walk more than from my bed to my couch without crying.

"I was bent in half and people forgot how tall I was as I was hunched over. Normally I'm 5ft 11in and it felt incredible to walk tall to meet my husband."

Elizabeth added: "I honestly wasn't sure we would make it as a couple or ever have a wedding day when I was sick.

"I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to be with someone so miserable and unable to participate in the most basic day to day things.

"It wasn't that I just couldn't walk- people can learn to adapt to that, but it was a constant overwhelming pain."

Elizabeth said how she was left in agony by the labour where the baby's head got stuck.

She continued: "I went into labour feeling fine but I left in agony.

"It took four attempts for doctors to give me an epidural in my spine, but I could still feel everything and I stayed at 9cm for hours.

"Doctors truthfully don't know exactly what happened. His head got stuck and they used a vacuum to get him out. It was a very distressing, prolonged period of time.

"I couldn't pick my son up, for the first year he was raised by my parents, I could barely hold him, my back wouldn't take it so I couldn't be alone with him, I would cry with the pain.

"I was desperate for corrective spinal surgery where they shave the discs down so they are no longer impinging on the nerve which was causing me the most agony."

But Elizabeth claims that she was forced to argue with medics to get them to agree to the surgery as they said that she was too young. 

She said: "I was in an horrendous amount of pain, but I was a new mum, I didn't know what was normal after delivery and my priority was my baby's health."

In the early days after Sawyer's birth, Elizabeth was unable to walk or sit down but at her six week post partem check, she was told the cause would be sciatica and to try physiotherapy.

The children's day care owner said: "I tried everything but the pain was getting worse. I felt like someone was constantly stabbing me in the spine.

"I asked for an operation but I was told no and I continued to ask for over a year but I was told that back surgery would ruin my life."

Elizabeth tried various pain relief options but many medicines caused her to gain a considerable amount of weight.

She said: "Some medication caused me to gain 25lbs in two weeks, it was horrible. I spent thousands of dollars on therapy but I knew the answer was surgery, I needed surgery to survive."

Because of her physical problems, Elizabeth felt unable to be a proper mum and this affected her mental health. The pain and physical restrictions left her feeling suicidal.

She said: "My mum would come over and get me up, get me ready, help to dress me, my parents, brother and husband would take it in turns to look after me throughout the day.

"I honestly didn't think I would survive it. It completely devastated me, I was a strong person but it was killing me. I just wanted to live my life, be a proper mum but I couldn't function.

"I was slowly losing myself. I had no life at all, I was letting him down because I couldn't be the mum he deserved and I hated the guilt that came with that."

When her son was 13 months old she was placed on a waiting list for the operation that would help her. 

She said: "I finally felt heard. It was agreed I needed emergency spine surgery.. I burst into tears as I was given a surgery date, it saved my life."

Her recovery has been slow and Elizabeth said she still doesn't have the life she did before pregnancy, but she is getting better each day.

The couple decided to tie the knot in September last year in a small family ceremony due to Covid. .

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But Elizabeth was thrilled to be able to confidently walk down the aisle – pain free.

She said: "We had spent so long focused on our son and my ill health we hadn't made serious plans. We wanted to wait until I was feeling better to enjoy the day.

"I don't think many men would have stuck around. I couldn't cook, clean, work or look after our son. Kyle works in HR for international defence and he is my world.

"My dad is my biggest supporter, he is my best friend and it meant the world to both of us for him to be able to walk me down the aisle.

"It has been amazing to be able to do it because I didn't want to be someone who hides in the house.

"I didn't see my friends because I was so embarrassed by the pain and it made me unrecognisable, family and friends could see it etched on my face.”

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