Clark’s birth story started the day my daughter Cooper was born. I didn’t realize this until after his birth when we began to settle into our home as a family of four.
Everything went exactly as I prayed it would. I surrendered control, trusting the doctors’ knowledge on how best to keep both Clark and me safe during his birth. So when they told me at 40 weeks and one day that their recommendation had changed from a vaginal delivery to a scheduled c-section, it felt like an easy consent. The doctors encouraged me to discuss it with my husband, which I did. I told him the way Clark comes into the world is immaterial. Only the outcome matters. I had three priorities, in the following order:
First, Clark is healthy and safe.
Second, I do not die.
Third, my fertility is preserved if possible.
At 2:05 p.m. on Tuesday, October 17, 2017, baby Clark Gregory Simons came into the world via c-section while I watched over the curtain into a mirror. For a variety of reasons, my doctors confirmed a c-section was indeed the safest method after baby Clark came out a whooping 9 lbs. 12 oz. and 21.5 inches long. During the remainder of the surgery, I focused on the cries of my new baby boy, the expressions on my husband’s face as he watched his wife and new son, and intently to my doctor’s tone as he stitched me back up. My baby’s cry was clear and strong. My husband’s smile was joyous and proud. And all the doctors’ actions and words were casual and calm. Everything went as planned. Was I surprised? As my doctor walked out of the room, he confidently said, “1, 2, 3.” My three priorities had been safely delivered.
The alone time in the hospital with our new baby felt magical. Even though a short twenty-one months earlier we had welcomed Cooper into the world, everything felt new. The truth is everything was new and different. I wasn’t separated from my baby for the first eight hours of his life. I was able to spend that time with him tucked in my arms. And the most wonderful part was introducing our baby to his big sister. It was a moment I had envisioned many times during therapy. Visualizing the moment after Clark’s birth when we sat together for the first time as a family of four gave me great peace.
The differences between the two births of Cooper and Clark were extreme. From the second Cooper was born, the questions of whether I should have another child or if I would survive another childbirth weighed constantly on my mind. Every moment leading up to Clark’s birth was charged emotionally with the uncertainty of these questions. The emotions were not always negative either. I appreciated every moment of my pregnancy as though it could be my last one. I knew, I felt, I believed I would be okay. But it wasn’t until I actually was okay that the reality, the weight of these unanswered questions was lifted. Leading up to the birth, I can’t tell you how often the thought would cross my mind--would I return home to Cooper and Clark, or would I die?
I didn’t realize it, but the trauma of almost dying after Cooper’s birth had brought an intensity of emotions into my parenting and relationship with Cooper. So when everything went smoothly with Clark’s birth, in a way, I grieved the absence of intense emotions, both positive and negative. In no way am I alluding to wanting another traumatic birth. Everything had gone exactly as it was supposed to and as I had prayed for. It might sound strange, but back at home, it was like I had “nothing to worry about” anymore. The question of whether I would survive childbirth was answered. The worry over that possibility was no longer necessary, yet strangely I was uncomfortable with its absence. I had become accustomed to living with this intense, fear-laden perspective that with life now calm and peaceful, it felt foreign. I have always heard that people in abusive relationships gravitate or create emotionally unstable relationships because they are comfortable with that life pattern. It was kind of like that, and I felt shocked by these feelings. I needed to schedule a therapy appointment to figure out why I felt this way. I did not want traumatic to be my normal.
My therapist affirmed I had been existing in this heightened state of emotion, and it was now time to feel emotions in a healthy calmness. My anxiety stemmed from worrying that calm would somehow change my parenting perspective and connections with my children. I do not want my interactions to become commonplace or redundant or my intense feelings of gratitude to wane. When I read Coops and Clark a book, I want to be as present and excited as possible even though I might read that same book a dozen times to them. I want to appreciate all the chaos and not take for granted the everyday. My therapist mentioned I need to focus on the positive emotions that come from simple moments like watching Clark’s little baby breath, snuggling his newborn body and dancing with Cooper in the kitchen when cooking breakfast.
As I mentioned, Clark’s birth story started the day Cooper was born. A process of miracles made it possible. Hours of therapy made it mentally and emotionally happen. Personal and family/friend prayers answered made it spiritually possible. Support of family during doctor-ordered bed rest made it physically happen. Clark Gregory Simons, it is undeniable you are meant to be here as part of our little family. You have taught and continue to teach me that beauty is found in the simplicity of comfort and calm. People always told me that your love only expands when you welcome another child into your life, I can now confirm that is true. And for those reasons and more, I am forever grateful for the birth of my two babies, Cooper and Clark.