There are so many dates in October I will forever remember...and the 28th has just been added to the list.  This has been a really difficult month -- and truly not even, just 2.5 short weeks ever since we first found out about our sweet little Clark.  But those couple of weeks have felt like an eternity, creeping by at a snail's pace...and never for even a second a moment passing that I wasn't thinking about our little guy.

Saturday, the 27th, I woke up and my hands (specifically palms) were supppppper itchy.  I brushed it off, thinking it was maybe something I ate, and went about our day...but they kept itching, as well as other parts of my body (chest, legs, feet, face, back).  SUPER annoying.  I messaged my friend Olivia about it and she was like GO CALL YOUR OB.  I was like eh, we're not there yet.  I mean I knew about cholestasis in pregnancy because my friend just went through it last spring, but didn't think that could be it yet.  I did my photoshoots and heck was even up for going to my aunt's annual Halloween party for a bit (because the food, yummmm).  Before we went I was still itchy, but, for the first time in over two weeks I busted out my doppler and sat with Mike to see if we could find Clark's heartbeat -- and we did.  It was slower, maybe 90-100 bpm but we heard it and felt comforted with that given my itching.  When we got home I popped two benadryl, convinced that it was allergies related and that would knock out the itching and also knock me out cause I was tireddddddd, and went to bed a little before 1am (I had to finish editing my snaps from Saturday afternoon first).  Welp, 2:30am hit and I was up itching my palms like crazyyyyyy.  And that was the jam the rest of the night...doze off for maybe an hour then wide awake itching like crazy.  And then remembering reading something that the itching gets worse at night. Fan-freaking-tastic.  I told myself I would text my OB as soon as 8am hit to see what she thinks I should do...because I just didn't have a good feeling.  I don't know what it was, a restless night or what, but something was telling me to get this checked out NOW and not wait until Monday.

I went ahead and text her (with profound apologies for bothering her on a Sunday) and asked if this was something to wait till tomorrow or do something now.  She strongly suggested heading to labor & delivery to get bloodwork done to check for cholestasis because it takes a few days to get those results back and then they can go ahead and put me on meds.  Okay, done.  This was a little after 9am and fortunately the big kids were still at their vacation home and Annie was at my parents' from her sleepover the night before so I got Mike up and had him go with me.

We got checked in and back to a room, and the nurse said they wanted to get a detailed history (since I hadn't pre-registered yet) some vitals on me and hooked up to a monitor before they did bloodwork.  Well, she couldn't find Clark on the belly monitor -- but said since I was not even 22 weeks and there was a lot of fluid in there, it could be hard to find...so she went to get the ultrasound and house OB on call.  I did not have a good feeling...I think I even text my two friends and was like "Shit.  Can't find heartbeat.  Getting ultrasound."  It's like I knew something was coming.

The house OB came in and she was so sweet -- and busted out the ultrasound and immediately said she saw his heart flickering.  Well, she then tried to get a heart rate reading for how fast and couldn't find it...she zoomed in some more and was having trouble seeing anything 'flickering' in there.  She said she was going to go get my high risk OB (who happened to be there doing a delivery) and have him look with her and she'd be right back.  I knew right then that our little guy was gone.  I think I started to cry a bit and grabbed Mike's hand, but pulled myself together and was like let's wait and see with our doc has to say.

The house OB came back and said he was already in a delivery but she was going to look again from another angle...well, this time there was nothing -- no heart beat, no flickering, nothing.  She said what she thought she saw was the heart beat was really not, just a vein flickering.  She looked for a while and didn't see anything moving in there.  That's when I lost it...I think Mike too.  Our little guy was gone.  He put up such a good, strong fight and finally let go.  The fluid was just too much for him.  We were completely devastated.  Although we knew and anticipated this coming, I don't think we actually knew or were prepared for when it actually did. It is just the most crushing feeling that is so hard to describe and put into words.

The OB said they could get us in either later that day or Monday for a c-section...because even at just shy of 22 weeks that is the exit route I was going to have to take to meet our sweet little Clark.  They had to coordinate two OBs schedules -- my normal OB and the high risk one who will both be doing my c-section.  So they said we could go home and they'd call and let us know later when my c-section was scheduled for.  Both Mike and I were hoping later that day...we just wanted to meet him and not have to wait.  But the Big Man had other plans it seemed.

The rest of the afternoon was a blur...telling our friends and family the tough news that our little Clark had passed and we'd be meeting him soon. Discussions about arrangements (something I never ever thought I'd have to discuss about MY OWN CHILD) and a billion other things that brought us both to tears just bringing them up.  I also had to send out MANY emails to my photo clients that I had booked in the next couple of weeks letting them know about our situation and rescheduling photos (or for some of them with time-sensitive shoots like Fresh 48s and newborns having my amazing photog do them for me).  Those emails were tough to put out as well.

My OB called and told me that with the high risk doc's schedule, he could get me in at 5pm on Monday -- GREATTTTTT.  Another 24+ hours of waiting.  I admit, I was not thrilled about this -- and I told her that.  I was like "Can we not do it sooner??!"  She offered to call him back and check...but the more we talked, and the more it sank it, I became okay with a 5pm delivery time on Monday.  You know why?!  Monday, October 29th is Goose's birthday.  Goose, who's favorite actor was Clark Gable, who our little Clark is named after, whose never celebrated a birthday sans a baby in her arms...now she will be getting to snuggle and cuddle our sweet little boy on her birthday -- on THEIR BIRTHDAY -- until we can see them both again soon.  We took comfort in this coincidence? No, divine intervention...that out of 365 days of the year, our Clark would be born on his great-grandma Goose's birthday.  Even in the shittiest and darkest of times, the Big Man upstairs works in some pretty incredible ways.  So 10/29/18 it was: that is the date we will meet our littlest man.

I had been keeping my photog buddy up to date all day -- because she said she'd be there to capture Clark's arrival for us whenever it was.  Since it was not going to be until Monday evening, she suggested we do some maternity pics Sunday night since she was free and we were free.  Honestly, I was like mehhhh, no.  I looked like crap.  My eyes hurt from crying all day long and I just wasn't in any mood to do pics.  Well, she didn't like to take no for an answer, and truthfully, I knew deep down I would sooooooo regret not doing them.  So I put my big girl pants on (really a mustard color dress I totally forgot I had in my closet but LOVE that color and it was just perfect on this very fall day) and Mike and I met her for a quick little maternity shoot.

And, I am just speechless with these pictures she did for us: THEY ARE JUST PERFECT.  I am just overcome with emotion looking at them (you can see them all here) and truly have no other words other than how perfect they are.  We are truly blessed with some amazing people in our lives.

After we got home the big kids and Annie got home shortly after and we settled into our crazy Sunday night routine of baths, snacks, stories and bedtime.  A welcomed distraction for a bit.  We did tell the big kids about Clark and how he wasn't coming home with us and was going to live with Goose in heaven to watch over us always, and I'm not sure if it really set in with them yet.  Patrick I think it did -- because he kept asking why...and if he could come see him and say goodbye.  Which, of course -- we are going to have the kids come up tomorrow evening after my c-section to say hello and see you later to their baby brother.  I feel like yes, this is a LOT for young kids to handle, but I feel like it is SO IMPORTANT and not something we can 'do over' if we decided to not bring them.  So they're going to come.

After the hustle and bustle of getting everyone out of the door Monday we decided to share the newest chapter of Clark's story on social media...because we have been SO OPEN thus far there and here on my blog, we wanted to continue to update the people who were sending us so many prayers and thoughts and comments and heck, even goodies!  I posted this pic with the caption (and a similar one, using one of our gorgeous maternity pics Victoria took on my photog pages):

21 weeks 6 days today and we are getting to meet our little Clark and say hello and see you later all at the same time.  After some crazy pregnancy symptoms Saturday night I text my OB Sunday morning and she recommended going in for some bloodwork…well, upon checkin they couldn’t find our little guy’s heartbeat after several ultrasound peeks.  While we anticipated this coming, truly nothing could have prepared us for it actually happening.  We are completely heartbroken and missing our little man dearly.  We’ll be going in later today for a c-section to hatch this little fella and finally meet him on the outside.  He’s named after my grandma Goose (Clark Gable was her favorite actor from ‘Gone with the Wind’, her favorite movie) and ironically? Amazingly? Divine intervention-ly? Today is her birthday — her first in heaven and she’ll have the most perfect little baby to snuggle up with and keep her company until the day we can see them both again.  We know that he’ll be watching over us always, and watching over his big brother and sisters and we find peace in that we have a forever guardian angel on our shoulders.  Thank you so much for all of the love and support and prayers and thoughts and comments and goodies and everything these past several weeks — they have helped us so much.  We are not sure how to navigate the unknown waters of what is to come, but we know we have an amazing community of support behind us with what’s to come. 

And the flood of comments and texts and emails have not stopped coming.  The outpouring of love and support from our real life and online community has just been amazing -- and truly has been SO FREAKING HELPFUL during all of this.  Sharing -- and writing -- have helped me cope and I so appreciate those people welcoming our story and showering us with love and thoughts and prayers.  It has been truly wonderful.

Now...we wait, which has been the song we have sung the past several weeks.  More waiting.  Right now, it's physical waiting until it's time to head to the hospital for my c-section...and then waiting to meet him...and then waiting to say see you later and hug him for the last time, since he'll no longer be snuggled up in my belly...waiting to hear the state of my uterus after 4 c-sections and if having another kiddo is even a physical option if it's something we'd want...and then, the waiting for the autopsy report and more testing that has been sent off and other testing we hadn't gotten the results back yet...waiting for answers, and answers that may never come.  We have been told that everything could come back normal (as it has thus far) and this is just 'bad luck'...but golly, I hope not.  I feel like I need some kind of answer, some reason for why this happened but I am preparing myself that I may not get that.  So, more waiting.  And patience, something that I feel like I've gotten marginally better at these past couple of weeks...and something that I'm sure I'll continue to get lost of practice with and hopefully better at as time goes on.

I'm sure I'll have another post or two in the days to come, documenting more of our sweet little man and his birth story.  I am so happy my friend is able to be there to document this for us -- I will cherish those pictures forever and ever.

Oh sweet Clark, how great of an impact you have had in your short little life -- and on so many people.  You've taught me things I didn't know I needed to be taught and will continue to teach me new things as the days go on.  Your life, albeit short, had a purpose.  It is all part of the journey and I will continue to talk about you and sing your story and say your name for forever and ever.  We love you so much sweet boy and hope you enjoy all of the Goose snuggles up there until we can see you again.  Watch over us and your big siblings as we navigate this earth without you here.

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