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."