02 May 2016


I can't say that I ever truly understood this word until Harrison was born. Mothers had told me that you feel different when your baby was born, and I always thought, "of course you do, you've never been a mother before that moment." But, as with everything else I thought about motherhood, I was wrong. The feeling you get when your child is born is so much more than becoming a new mom.

I talked about my difficulty with being pregnant in another entry, and how it was difficult for me to connect because of my fears, insecurities, and general life-long sense that I wasn't going to be a mom.  This fear lasted through my labor, knowing that something - anything - could happen. And looking back, I'm honestly sad that I felt that way, because I could have loved him harder sooner.

But the moment I saw him, the moment he was safely in the world, the moment he first cried for me, I knew. I knew he was mine. I knew that he knew me and that I knew him. It was as if I was experiencing a long awaited reunion - almost as if I could hear myself saying "I've missed you, I've been waiting so long."

I've realized that everything they say is true. 
Everything changes the moment your baby is here.
It will be the most beautiful experience of your life.
You will never be the same.

I never felt true euphoria until the moment I saw him for the first time. It was the feeling of real magic in that room. It was the feeling of my heart growing 3 sizes. It was the feeling of meeting the most innocent being on the planet, for that moment. It was the feeling of seeing God and knowing His love. It was the feeling of all the Best Things all at once, but your cup is too small and the Best Things are too big.

And then they placed him on my chest, skin-to-skin, and this tiny human that was once inside me was now outside. I made him. I nourished him and carried him and kept him safe.

The feeling you get when your child is born is so much more than becoming a new mom - it is the definition of euphoria. Pure euphoria.

Done being pregnant, or, Harrison's birth.

"I think you need to be done being pregnant."

Everything after that sentence was a kind of a blur. We were immediately moved from the tiny OB triage room to a huge delivery room where they oriented us to what would be happening in there. We hadn't even had the time to pack my hospital bag yet - let alone take a tour of the hospital! After we were settled, Kendall had to run home with a list of things to bring me for my hospital stay. Luckily I had already packed Harrison's bag, but was in the middle of packing mine before rushing to OB triage.

The funny thing was, when Kendall and I found out we were pregnant, we thought we were further along. My OB originally told me they thought I was going to be due around the first week of February - smack dab in the middle of me and Kendall's birthdays! We are already only two weeks apart and we joked how funny it was that we would have a baby between our birthdays. It turned out I wasn't as far along and our due date was moved back to March. But the Friday I was getting induced just so happened to be Kendall's birthday - and we knew Harrison was going to be born the very next day. Poor Kendall had to sleep on a cot in Labor & Delivery on his birthday - but if you ask him, I don't think he would have had it any other way.

Because I was so early, only dilated to a 2, and only having small contractions I couldn't even feel, my induction process took a lot longer than a normal induction. Friday evening, the started me on a medication that would soften my cervix and hopefully dilate me further so that they could start petocin the next day.

On Saturday, they continued to check me to see if I had dilated any further so they could start the petocin. My OB had gone out of town, so I had a different OB checking on me that day - and he was not gentle. Luckily, I had the best nurse I could have asked for who stood by me and Kendall through everything since we had no idea what we were doing! My mom was flying in from Washington that morning and Kendall's mom was picking her up - so Kendall and I were all alone and inexperienced having to figure everything out.

On top of being induced, each time I had a contraction Harrison's blood pressure would drop a couple points. I didn't know at the time, but the nurses and the OB were concerned that the umbilical chord was around his neck, causing the drop in blood pressure. They kept me on the monitor and gave me oxygen at times to help.

The third time the new OB came in, I immediately started crying because I knew that it was going to hurt. He checked my cervix and told me I was at a 2 and 3/4; then, while he was still checking my cervix and I was still crying in pain, he asked me if I wanted him to break my water or have a c-section. I'm sure my eyes popped out of my head as I yelled "I don't know!" My amazing nurse looked at me for a second, then looked at the doctor and said, "she can do it." 

The OB broke my water right as my mom and Kendall's mom, Delight, walked through the door! It was the best timing because after he broke my water my contractions got extremely painful. My mom ran to my side to hold my hand as her and Delight helped me focus on breathing through the contractions until my epidural came.

Before I was in labor, I was scared to death of the epidural. People told me how huge the needle was and that it's painful when the epidural is put in. I already mentioned my amazing nurse - I really wasn't exaggerating about her. When the anesthesiologist arrived with my epidural, my nurse, Carmen, sat me up in the bed with a chair in front of me. She sat on the back of the chair with her feet on the seat and propped my feet on the seat as well. She held my head between her hands and put her face close to mine. As he was putting the epidural in, she spoke in my ear and told me what he was doing but not to worry because I was strong and brave and it would help with my pain. I didn't feel the needle at all - it was seriously a miracle.

After the epidural was in, they started the petocin and Carmen put me in different positions with the peanut ball to help dilate me further. I was actually able to sleep through most of this - which I would really appreciate later, ha! I wasn't looking at the time during any of this, but it must have been 3-4 hours before I started to feel like something was happening. At around 1:00, I told Carmen that I thought I could feel him getting lower, so she called the OB to check my cervix again. Luckily, this time it didn't hurt because of the epidural!

The OB came in and found that I was dilated to about a 9 and a half and that Harrison was definitely getting into position to come out. He asked me if I was ready to push and again I looked at Carmen, because I honestly didn't know what it would feel like to be ready to push. Carmen told the doctor that she thought I was ready and that I should start pushing. They prepped the room for me to start.

I remember a lot of pressure and people telling me to breathe because I kept holding my breath as I pushed. I remember my mom holding my hand, Kendall and Carmen holding my legs, and the not hating the OB anymore because he was so kind and encouraging. I remember being so close and having to stop because my contraction was over, and just wanted to push a little more so I could see him sooner. I remember looking in Kendall's eyes and realizing that we were both crying because our hearts were bursting with love.

In only 12 pushes, my sweet little baby was born, and I've never been so happy.

Harrison Ulysses Clark.
February 13, 2016. 1:39 PM. 5 lbs 12 oz. 19 in.
Everything I never knew I needed.

Complications, continued.

They finally released me from the hospital on January 17th with diet instructions and with an appointment to see my surgeon and OB within a week for follow up. My surgeon did not want to do surgery while I was pregnant and wanted me to hold off until at least 6 weeks after my delivery, if I could handle it. My OB wanted me to get to at least 37 weeks, if I could handle it. Both assured me that with proper diet and exercise, that I shouldn't have any problems.

They were wrong.

I had attacks 4-5 times a week, sometimes multiple times a day. Most of them I could handle with deep breathing and a lot of tears. I told my OB each week how many attacks I had but assured her they were not as bad as the one that put me in the ER the first time. They gave me pain medication for the attacks, but encouraged me not to take them as they were addictive to me and to Harrison. They didn't help, anyway. I ended up barely eating anything - I even went days when I only ate apples all day - and it still wasn't enough to keep away the pain.

On top of my body not being able to digest fat in food, Harrison's feet where constantly right where my gallbladder was located. Even if I knew that I had little to no fat in a day, if Harrison kicked in the right spot, it would send me into hours of pain.

On Thursday, February 11th, Kendall and I were getting ready for bed as usual. We were getting used to my attacks coming, so it was no surprise when I started having pain around 7:00 PM. It went away pretty quickly, so we got in bed and started watching a show. At around 10:00, I started feeling pain again, and Kendall went ahead and gave me some pain medication just in case. After about an hour and a half of sitting on the bathroom floor trying to make myself throw up to relieve the pain, I told Kendall that this time was different and that we needed to go to OB triage right away. I was exactly 36 weeks and 5 days.

Kendall drove as fast as he could to the hospital. When we got to the parking lot, I threw up quite a bit...the only other time I threw up besides the first time we went to the ER. We were immediately taken to a room in OB triage where they hooked me up to the machines to monitor Harrison. The nurses worked quickly to order me some pain medication and we waited for my OB to arrive (luckily she was doing rounds at the hospital that night).

When she finally came in, about an hour and a half after we arrived, she said the sweetest sentence I could have ever heard:

"I think you need to be done being pregnant."

07 April 2016

The baby shower.

I can't go on in the story without talking about the amazing baby shower that my in-laws threw! Kendall's family knew that I was in the hospital the day before the shower and were waiting to hear if I was going to be released in time to make it to the shower. When Kendall told them that the doctors were going to keep me, they wondered what we were going to do about the shower that we had already planned, set up, and invited our friends and family to. I suggested that Kendall go in my place.

Kendall Facetimed me so that I could say hi to all my friends and thank them for bringing the beautiful gifts. I had only told a couple people what had happened, so most of my friends were confused that I wasn't there. Luckily, everyone knew and loved Kendall and said how nice it was for him to be there, and that it was so great to celebrate our baby with him.

Even though I was so sad I couldn't be there, I'm so grateful for the love and support we received for Harrison and for me while I was in the hospital!


Just before my birthday and a few days before my baby shower, on January 14th, Kendall and I had a normal day with no reason to think that anything would go amiss. We got ready for bed and, as I laid down, I mentioned to Kendall that I was having slight pain in my chest. Thinking I was having a pregnancy symptom, which I never had, we tried an antacid and some tylenol and laid back down. After a few minutes, I told him it wasn't getting any better. He told me to be patient. A few more minute and the pain got worse, but I was being patient. Then, full blown ten-out-of-ten pain started.

We laid in bed breathing together for over 2 hours, hoping it would get better. At this point, the pain was so severe that I was hyperventilating and my arms were starting to go numb. Kendall started to become scared and started packing me up to head to the ER. We didn't know what was happening to my body, but all my symptoms pointed to a heart attack and we were afraid of how my difficulty breathing would affect our tiny baby.

When you go to the hospital with chest pain and you're pregnant, it's like a fast pass to the front of the line. They didn't have a room available for the doctor to see me, but they immediately took me back to a smaller room and put me on an EKG, while they checked for baby's heartbeat. Immediate relief as I hear the baby's heart thump. EKG says no heart attack. Because I have asthma, they order a breathing treatment. The breathing treatment doesn't relieve my shortness of breath. They finally get me into an actual room to see a doctor after about an hour and a half.

While we were waiting for the doctor, the pain was so unbearable I couldn't sit or lay down. I kept moving from different positions trying to relieve the pain, or at least be in a position where I wasn't making it worse. Before the doctor walked in, I began vomiting in the sink - which actually relieved my pain. I explained everything to him when he walked in and he immediately ordered an ultrasound of my gallbladder. I remember thinking, "what the heck is a gallbladder, anyway?"

They sent me to antepartum, where they were able to monitor both me and the baby and have quick access to ultrasounds, OBs, and prenatal nurses. The ultrasound revealed that my baby was perfect, but my gallbladder was far from it. I had massive gallstones that they weren't sure were staying in my gallbladder. If they were not staying in my gallbladder, they could be severely damaging my liver which could be dangerous for my growing fetus. They warned me that if the gallstones were obstructing my liver, they would have to take my tiny, 33 gestational week baby through c-section to be able to operate on me to remove the gallbladder and any gallstones.

I cried when they told me I had to stay in the hospital over night, missing my first ever baby shower the next day. However, I'm so grateful for the care I received while I was there. I didn't know what a long and painful journey that would start, but I know that without the nurses and doctors that weekend, my baby may not have been here.

I don't have any pictures to make this post more visually appealing or happy, and honestly I don't think it would be appropriate for this entry as this was one of the hardest trials of my life. There was nothing pretty about this experience. I was lucky that all my tests showed that the gallstones were remaining in my gallbladder, and they believed that with a fat-free diet I could get my baby to term without needing surgery.

But, as I said, this was a long and painful journey, and this was just the beginning.


I wish I would have loved it more. I wish that I would have documented my feelings, in the moment, of the first ultrasound where I cried hearing his heartbeat for the first time, of the first flutters that I thought were muscle spasms that turned into kicks that were too strong to ignore, of the first time I saw that he had a face and was no longer a tiny gummy bear. Though I remember them now, I didn't cherish them in the moment the way I do now.

Growing up, I never thought I would be a mother. I was an only child (in Arizona), only seeing my siblings in the summer, and was never around babies. The only pregnancy I saw in my entire life was when I was thirteen and my mom was hospitalized with my baby brother and almost died giving birth to him. Not only did I not imagine being a mom, but I was traumatized by what pregnancy had done to my mom. Being the spitting image of her, all I could do was imagine the same thing would happen to me. My solution was to not ever become a mother.

Then I joined the LDS church. The plan of salvation was so real to me, and I knew that having a family was something I wanted, even if I still couldn't picture myself being a mother and was terrified of being pregnant. Then I met Kendall, and I could see the future father of my children, though I didn't know how I could be brave enough to have those children.

Throughout my pregnancy, those feelings and insecurities did not go away. Before each ultrasound I had extreme anxiety about hearing the heartbeat. As my belly grew larger and my hips wider, my fear of labor increased. Not only had I never seen someone have an easy pregnancy, but I was a complete wimp when it came to pain tolerance. I was frightened of hospitals, needles, and pain.

I hated being pregnant - and honestly, there was no reason for me to hate it. I was extremely lucky when it came to pregnancy. I had no morning sickness - I only threw up 3 times due to nausea my whole pregnancy! I had an aversion to sugar, so I gained very little weight throughout my pregnancy. I slept like a champ. I had no mood swings and wasn't overly emotional. Kendall told me at one point that he liked me better pregnant, which I understand looking back. I was calm, cool, and collected throughout my entire pregnancy. But, when people asked, I still couldn't bring myself to say that I enjoyed any of it, or that I could ever imagine doing it again.

As my belly and tiny human grew, and I became closer and closer to meeting him, I was also keenly aware that not every pregnancy ends with a baby in your arms. I was afraid to become too attached to him in case I had to say goodbye. As irrational as it was, I held off naming him and nesting for fear of loving him too much. What if something happened? What if I'm not strong enough? What if?

The months came and went, and our tiny human continued to grow and grow at what seemed to be an exponential rate. Kendall saw him move in my belly one night as I was sitting on the couch before he felt him. I had been feeling him for weeks, but he had this funny way of stopping each time Kendall placed his hand on my stomach. Kendall finally felt him kick a few weeks later, by then his kicks were seemingly constant and strong. We started to notice little quarks about him - like how he stopped kicking for minutes when someone would try to feel, or how he only laid on one side, or how he would stick one foot straight out and leave it there as if he started to stretch but forgot to finish.

I think it was around Christmas that I finally started to give in to the strong pull I felt as a mother. At Christmas, I was 7 months pregnant and I knew these were our last holidays as just Kendall and I. I felt so strongly that the next year we would have a tiny human at our feet and all our love would be poured into making him happy. The fear of losing him was still very real, but I could no longer hide the love I felt for him growing stronger each day.

We named him Harrison that month.

By January, my belly bump was large and in charge, as they say. I had started a new job and was feeling great. I had finally named my little boy and was finally feeling like nesting. I bought his first outfit and knitted his first blanket. I was becoming more comfortable with the idea of having a baby, becoming a mother, and knowing that it was all going to be okay. I was starting to think that being pregnant wasn't so terrible, after all.

I was so very happy!