Clark's Birth Story

This might be a lengthy post.  Because I want to tell Clark's story, his birth story, his hello and see you later story altogether, just like I would have if the circumstances were any different.

Where I last left off on 10.28.2018, we were heading in to meet our little man Clark on 10.29.2018 -- Goose's 91st birthday she was celebrating up in heaven.

I decided to do one last self portrait with Clark and I before we headed off to the hospital to meet him.  I still had a whirlwind of thoughts racing through my head and truly, didn't want to setup my camera and find a place to do it, but just as I reminded myself with the maternity pics, I NEEDED to do this, despite not wanting to, cause I knew I'd regret it...and I sit here now much afterwards SO HAPPY that I did do it and have this last self-portrait with Clark man.

Mike and I then headed into the c-section was scheduled for 5pm so we had to be there at 3pm.  We talked arrangements for post-op, things we'd never in our wildest dreams thought we'd need to be discussing (getting a priest to come after birth, calling funeral homes, deciding what plans we were going to want to do, etc...).  Life is funny like that, throwing a change-up at you when you were expecting a fastball.

Mike always takes a pic of me in my hospital gown prior to surgery, so he kept with tradition and snapped this gem ^^^ before we headed back.  My amazingly awesome photog and buddy Victoria from Fresh Pine Photography showed up and started snapping away -- and I'm just going to share a few of her amazing, raw and real captures throughout this post.  I was going to get birth photos done regardless, so I am so so so thankful she was able to be there for us under these not anticipated circumstances.  I will treasure these pics -- and the maternity ones she captured the night before forever and ever.

I'm not going to lie, I sat in a daze in the bathroom for a minute really asking myself, "IS THIS REAL?!!!" It felt very surreal, almost like the past several weeks had been a bad dream.  "Was I really about to have a c-section at {almost} 22 weeks and not get to bring home a baby?!"  It just hit me big time.

And I think a lot of these pics capture that -- the rawness and realness of the situation and what we were about to go through.  Because now, even typing this up, I still don't know if I've processed it or not if it's really reality.  I'm sure it'll hit me in the days and weeks to come...

My c-section time was running a bit late, which was okay, because it gave us time to go over with all of the docs and nurses what we were going to expect.  I got 2 IVs because my blood counts were kinda low and they were anticipating needing to give me blood in the OR.  The CRNA also told me she was going to do both a spinal and an epidural, because they anticipated this c-section taking a bit longer than the spinal lasts given the circumstances, anticipated scar tissue, and things they *might* find in there.  So even though it was a c-section about 17 weeks earlier than usual for me, it seemed a bit more complicated and involved than my past ones.  I'm not going to lie, that heightened my anxiety levels a bit.

I have to give a shoutout to my OB -- I just love her SO MUCH.  Even though the primary doc on the case was my high risk OB, she still came in to assist with my c-section and sit and chat with me for a good long while before hand.  I cannot express my love for her enough...and truly, if you don't have an OB or primary care doc who's in your corner and your {medical} rock for anything and everything: GO FIND ONE.

When it was time to go back it was a bit surreal...Mike and Victoria hung out in kind of a holding pattern while they prepped me and got my spinal and epidural in and then once we were good to go with that they laid me back and brought them in. 

That's when I lost it...and I think these pictures showcase that perfectly.  They are absolutely the most raw and real moments of my life and truly there was no tears held back -- when they made that first incision on my belly and I knew we were going to meet our sweet boy soon, I lost it.  Thank goodness I had Mike's hand to squeeze and the wonderful CRNA to wipe my tears as I lay there motionless, just waiting.

When Clark was born it wasn't a joyous celebration like with the last kiddos -- no one shouted "It's a boy!" No one cheered.  No baby cried.  It was just silent.  I watched as his little sleeping body was brought over to the warmer to be quickly assessed and then wrapped up and given to us.

This is where it is soooooo tough to be a c-section mama: you are helpless.  Whether it's a screaming 40 week old babe or a sleeping 22 weeker, you can only crane your neck so far to see him in the warmer.  This is when I told Mike to go be with him and hold him and I would just watch.  Again, so many emotions flooding through me -- the reality of OH MY GOSH THIS DID JUST HAPPEN and I WANT TO SEE MY BABY NOW were both prominent thoughts.

Now little Clark, actually not so little for not even 22 weeks -- weighing in at 2 pounds 12 ounces (which probably would have been closer to 3 pounds but wasn't weighed until several hours after birth) and 12.5 inches long -- since he was so early he still had very 'early' skin, that red and transparent skin that babies have in utero until 25ish weeks I believe.  And then due to all of his swelling and the hydrops, he was quite big...and definitely swollen.  But, despite that, he was our little swollen babe, looking so darn cute with his little button nose and chubby cheeks and chin that was the SPITTING IMAGE of Mike's.  His little hands and fingers and feet and toes were so darn cute too and I couldn't stop looking at them.

When you have a baby, it is YOUR BABY.  So while others me be shocked? or repel back from the picture of your swollen and red 22 weeker, you don't see that.  You see a perfect little boy -- your little boy -- that couldn't be any sweeter or more adorable because, well, because he's yours.  So I share these pictures to celebrate that: HE IS OURS and we love him so so so much.

Mike got him bundled up and came over and sat by me so I could see him and love on him as much as I could from my angled spot while the docs worked to close me up.  Now, what you see in some of these pics is again that raw and real emotion...most of it just overcome with emotion with finally meeting our little guy to some very painful moments (literally) when my spinal was fading.  What's crazy is I vividly remember being able to wiggle my toes and feet throughout the entire surgery -- something I've never been able to do before.  And while I 'felt' the entire surgery, the majority wasn't painful, just a lot of pulling and tugging and pressure.  However, towards the end, when we were loving our on Clark man, I was absolutely feeling something -- a lot of burning -- and needed some more meds ASAP to combat fortunately the wonderful CRNA hooked me up and got me feeling better while still staying alert.

Shockingly my uterus and previous scar tissue looked pretty darn good for a 4th c-section and besides a giant hydrop-y placenta and cord, there weren't any surprises with my delivery or insides...actually it was about as textbook as possible.  And later I was told by both docs that IF we wanted to have a 5th kiddo (via c-section) it is not medically off the table at all -- everything looks fine inside to be able to sustain a safe and 5th pregnancy and c-section that was nice to hear.  Because I really didn't want someone else to tell me NO to having another kiddo -- I wanted that decision to be made by Mike and I...and obviously not anytime soon, we had a lot of test results to still come back and a lot of other things to discuss definitely something way down the road we'll have to decide between us and thankfully not be told by someone else.

When my surgery was done it was time to head back to our room, which is actually the same room we'd be staying in the rest of our stay...because with loss patients they don't transfer them to the postpartum unit, they keep them in L&D for their entire say.

I got to hold my sweet boy as we left the OR and back into our room and it really hit me then that this little man wasn't coming home with us.  That was incredibly difficult to finally begin to stomach.

Mike and I got a bit of time with him with just us before my mom and dad came back and then our priest (my wonderful aunt Cindy's brother Tim) came to baptize sweet Clark for us.  I was soooo happy he came up to do this for us; it meant and continues to mean the world to us that he came do this for us.

After Clark was baptized we let my parents hold and love on him for a bit before they decided to leave and the three older kiddos came up with Mike's parents.

Now this is something we went back and forth on over and over again...but we really felt like the kiddos, especially Patrick and Rosie, NEEDED to meet their baby brother and see him and get some closure too.  When they came in they were sooooo good -- Annie really had no clue what was going on and was more interested in playing with the buttons on my bed, which was fine :) -- and immediately Patrick showed us the card he made for Clark...

...and told him how much he loved him.  We kept Clark nice and wrapped up but I should have known; the kiddos wanted to see him!  They asked why he was red (which we explained it was because he was so early that's what all of our skin looks like them) and why his eyes were closed.  But then wanted to hold his hand and touch his face and see him little we decided to unwrap him and show them because they were his siblings and deserved to see their little brother exactly how perfect he was.

Patrick kept telling him he loved him and wanted to hold his hand and then wanted to hold him...which he just loved doing.  Rosie wanted to hold him too, which she loved doing as well.  It made my heart so happy they were so into their little brother and loving on him and not letting his appearance frighten them or anything.

We then snapped a few family pictures, some pics of Clark with his TinySuperheroes cape, and Mike's parents got to hold him before bidding the kiddos farewell for the evening.  That is when I told Victoria a million thank yous and she left too -- and we had some time alone with just Clark and us.

I snapped a quick pic of his feet to post on social media, letting everyone know that our sweet Clark had arrived, and then Clark was off with the nurses to get his stats done and hand and footprints made.

We brought some Model Magic to get prints done to send off to get Patty Cakes done just like we did after birth with the big kids.  The nurses were so fantastic in getting these prints made for us -- it was so great knowing they could get them done and keepsakes made for our little guy just like his big siblings.

While he was gone Mike and I had a lot of time to talk and discuss things and just kinda reflect on the day...which we both said, given the circumstances, went as good and smoothly as we could have hoped for for our little guy.  We were so happy the big kids came up to meet their little brother and so happy Father Tim was able to come do his baptism.  We knew we had a long road ahead of us...but knew we'd tackle it together and WE WOULD BE OKAY.  We knew that we had some struggles ahead but we would get through this together and as a family, and that those three crazy kiddos at home would keep us going.

Clark came back from getting his stats done and we got to spend a bit more time with him before bidding him farewell for the evening.  We knew we'd see him again before we left the hospital and before he left, so we knew for now we were just saying see you later until the next time we'd get to see his sweet little face...and we took comfort in that knowing he was staying near us during our stay as well.

I'm not going to sugar coat this, this experience was one of the hardest yet most profound of my life.  It is one that I never ever thought I'd have to experience, but that I did I hope I did so with grace and celebrating our little boy as best as I could.  We just love him so much and hope we can keep honoring him and his name for the rest of our lives.  He is our #4, our Clark, our second son, and we want to make sure everyone knows that he is and will forever be very much a part of our family.  He'll have a stocking this Christmas, we'll celebrate his birthday, and we'll look back at his pictures and our time with him and celebrate -- perhaps with some tears as well, but celebrate nonetheless.  Because he is Clark William Mooney and he is our son and we love him so so so much today and everyday of our lives.

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