trusting your gut // even when it's hard: courtney smith

Hi friends! Today marks the beginning of awesome guests posts. Up first is my sister, Courtney! After that, you'll hear from my sister Ashley, a few of my friends and some awesome fellow bloggers! Be sure to check back to read more from them! 


It is an absolute honor to contribute to Whitney's amazing blog. I learn so much from her wisdom and beautiful writing every time I read her posts. I do not have the eloquence she possesses, but I am excited to be able to write a post during her absence. (side note from whitney: that is not true - she's amazing :))

I have always known I have wanted to be a mother. 

Growing up, when anyone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, "I want to be a ________ (teacher/doctor/nurse/artist)" but would think in my head, "I just really want to be a mom." 

Mothering was modeled beautifully by our mom and I know that Ash, Whit and I all have a strong mothering desire deep within our souls. 

Several years after Ryan and I had been married, we decided we would begin the journey of having babies. We felt ready and excited. And then a year passed with no pregnancy. My self worth and sense of identity started to crumble and I felt inadequate as a wife. Thankfully, after much patience and prayer, we were able to get pregnant and welcomed our daughter and then a son into the world. 

In 2010, we were overjoyed when we became pregnant a third time. We were thrilled to be so blessed to be expecting another precious child and went into the pregnancy with much joy and thankfulness. 

At my 12 week ultrasound, our obstetrician found a concerning second sack next to the baby. He originally thought that perhaps it had been a twin that had not survived and wanted to see me again in a week. 

Being an optimist, I asked if I could still run (to which he said definitely no) and I walked away feeling a slight twinge of worry, but not accepting the gravity of our situation. 

A week later we went back in to see him. The sack had not dissipated at all and he noted it was as large as the sack our sweet baby was in. He concluded that I had had a large hemorrhage that had contained itself. I was again told to be cautious in my activity, but he hoped that with time it might dissolve. 

On New Year's Eve, we were celebrating with friends when I began to have the most intense contractions. I was 17 weeks along in my pregnancy and was absolutely not willing to allow myself to believe I was in labor. I gritted my teeth through the evening and immediately got into bed when we got home and prayed all night that things would stop. 

The next morning, I awoke sore from a night of contractions that had felt like my insides were ripping apart. My optimistic resolve was starting to fade, but I was not willing to admit to myself that worry and fear were creeping into my heart. 

Over the course of the next 10 weeks, I lived through a cycle of contractions followed by horrible hemorrhaging. As the days crept on, I got weaker and weaker as I lost more and more blood. We prayed day by day that this little one would hang on and that we could make it much further. 

And each day as I saw my OB, got iron and blood transfusions, and clung to our baby's life, I started to realize the seriousness of what was occurring. I knew in my gut that things were going horribly wrong, but also knew that for our baby's sake, I had to hold on for as long as I possibly could. 

As the weeks went on, it became more and more clear that we were not going to make it to term. What had initially begun as a prayer to have the hemorrhage disappear, became a prayer to make it into week 30. Many people kept insisting that I go on bed rest, or start mag sulfate, or get another medical opinion. But, my gut was telling me that if we allowed ourselves to be hospitalized, they would deliver our baby too soon. I knew that each day that passed was critical for our baby's development. So, as long as I was not dying, I wanted to press on for as long as possible. 

And then, after a night of never even making it to bed due to such severe hemorrhaging, I knew it was time to listen to my gut again. 

I called my OB and asked to have my blood work checked. Immediately after the results came in, we were admitted to the community hospital. Then hours later transferred by ambulance to the larger academic hospital. As soon as we made it to the room, the OB's rushed in and said it was time for a c-section. I burst into tears and begged them to give us more time. Ryan asked them to check my blood work once more and see if we could give our baby a few more days to receive steroids. Thankfully, they agreed and we were able to make it through the night. 

The next day, things seemed quieter and we started to have hope that I could possibly stay in the hospital for a few weeks allowing our baby to incubate a bit longer. Although I was getting weaker and weaker, our baby seemed stable inside me. 

On the Monday morning, Ryan got up to go round on his patients a few floors below me. And suddenly, I awoke to a contraction unlike any other I've ever experienced. I tried to tough it out for a few minutes before calling him and asking him to quickly come back. I prayed and asked the Lord what I was meant to do, and knew without doubt, that it was time. I knew that it was time for our baby to be welcomed into the world. I called for help and was immediately rushed to the operating room. 

Once there, it became clear that my I was in DIC and that my placenta was no longer able to sustain our baby's life. Our sweet Crosby was delivered at 27 weeks and weighed 2 lbs 6 oz. 

The months that followed were traumatic and stressful and some of the hardest days we have lived through. But, we felt so very supported by friends and family. The love of the Lord was so very real to us in those 10 weeks in the NICU and His presence was palpable. 

When I look back on the months prior to Crosby's birth, I am overwhelmed by all that we went through. And I am also overwhelmed by how much I knew to listen to my gut. 

I knew when many were pushing us to be admitted, that it was not time. If we had been admitted earlier, I am sure they would have delivered him and his outcome would not have been so favorable. I am thankful I felt peace in listening to my gut. 

And when I knew I could no longer sustain the pregnancy, I am so thankful I felt led to call out for help. Although I did not want to listen to my gut, I knew in my soul that it was time. Had we waited even hours longer, we could have lost our precious baby. 

Looking back on the winter of 2011, I am amazed by how we knew when to carry on and when to cry out for help. And I realize that this was not me listening to my gut, but rather the Lord leading us through those very dark days. He held my hand as I contracted through nights alone. He gave me peace as I endured weak and painful days. He was my Rock and my Comforter through it all. He loves me so very much and had a perfect and beautiful plan for the start of Crosby's life. 

Although that period was the most difficult phase of my life, I knew He was always by my side. And that is the best feeling I will ever have in my gut.


Read more of Courtney's posts on her blog, Z'ville to C'ville