Dear Furbaby :: I Am A Better Mom Because You Had Me First

I still remember the day I first saw you. You were sprawled out and sleeping on your litter mates with your big, round belly showing. You immediately caught my attention. I had no intention, however, of taking you home that day.

I just wanted to look.

Although I had future plans to get a puppy, I was studying for my boards and needed to wait until I was finished. I was only in Austin that weekend for a quick girls’ trip and a much needed study break, but I just couldn’t resist stopping.

As luck would have it, my best friend, Ellie, was with me. She was not going to let me leave without you. {She is very stubborn and her dimples are very persuasive.} I was on the fence, though, and came up with every reason why I shouldn’t take you home. I wasn’t sure how I would be able to handle adding you to my hectic lifestyle. The person running the pet adoptions that day even questioned my ability to care for you once she knew I was a busy doctor, but your aunt Ellie quickly interjected and said, “This dog will have the best life possible! You have nothing to worry about.”

It was a done deal.

Dear Furbaby:: I Am A Better Mom Because You Had Me First | Houston Moms Blog
“I gotcha” day, 7/3/2010, Austin Pets Alive, Austin, TX

We went to a nearby pet store, loaded my little convertible with supplies and were on our way. I must admit those first few days were tough. I lived in a mid-rise apartment, had a crazy schedule, and had never been responsible for anyone but myself before. I questioned my decision to take you home that very first night {ok, the next several nights}, but you quickly placed your paw prints on my heart and my life went from a party of one to a party of two. I made plans, got some much needed advice, and took a deep breath.

I had no way of knowing then just how much my life was about to change and how much caring for you would prepare me for the biggest event yet to come.

Before you arrived, I was 38 years old and single with a very active social life. I was able to be blissfully selfish and any decision I made only affected me. You instantly gave me a sense of accountability. I needed to take care of another being, and, just like I do in any other area of my life, I took that responsibility very seriously. You were my baby now, and I wanted to give you the best life possible. Of course, that meant a lot of changes and sacrifices. My social life quickly started to revolve around you, but I didn’t care one bit. For the first time in my life someone else came first. I’m not saying it was an easy transition, but it was a change that I didn’t know I needed. Coming home to you every day instantly made my life better.

Dear Furbaby:: I Am A Better Mom Because You Had Me First | Houston Moms Blog
Robyn Arouty Photography, Houston, TX

I settled into the fur mommy routine with a few hiccups along the way. I got a dog walker, a dog trainer {or four}, the best dog food, and the best dog toys. You enjoyed our bayou walks, snuggling on the couch, and riding in the car with your nose in the air. Despite my efforts to spoil you, I came to realize that you only needed me, my favorite velour blankie from college, and apples, cheese and peanut butter—our favorite snack.

You taught me so much in those first few years. You brought out the best in me and showed me what true unconditional love looks life. I, in return, gladly gave it back to you. I actually never knew that I was capable of ever feeling that way about anyone or anything until you came along. I credit you with bringing me and your fur daddy together, actually. You had softened my edges and finally opened my heart wide enough to accept another person in. He even took you on a date first before asking me out and came to love you just like I did. You brought us together and made us a party of three.

The next few years were tough. I know you felt it, too, because you always seemed to know when I was sad or hurting. I leaned on you to make me feel better and you never failed. You were my respite from a miscarriage, multiple IVF cycles, failed transfers, and the emotional roller coaster that would become my life while we tried so desperately to expand our family

Dear Furbaby:: I Am A Better Mom Because You Had Me First | Houston Moms Blog
Robyn Arouty Photography, Houston, TX

You were also the first to know that we had finally succeeded when you climbed on the couch and buried your nose in my belly every chance you got. Even though we were warned about having a pit bull in our home with babies, you graciously welcomed your baby brother and sister home with love and protection. You knew your role in our lives had changed, but I don’t think you minded. Wherever they were you were just a few feet away watching them closely and making sure we were taking care of them. You were the best big brother we could have ever asked for.

Two years ago, I became a mom to not one but two more babies at once, and again my life drastically changed. I wasn’t sure how I could handle being a working mom to twins, and no matter how hard I tried to prepare, I surely wasn’t ready. But you were there by my side every step the way.

Dear Furbaby:: I Am A Better Mom Because You Had Me First | Houston Moms Blog
Roberto + Lori Photography, Alvin, TX

I understand now what it means to freely sacrifice yourself for another and love so deeply and unconditionally that you can literally feel your heart explode. I know what it’s like to want to give someone else the best life possible and always put them first without hesitation. I know what it’s like to have the worst day EVER and come home and instantly feel happy. I know what’s it like to be 45 years old and still be able to be silly and find the kid deep inside. I know what it’s like to try to give someone the best of everything, when in reality they only need you, a blankie and good snack.

I know these things, my sweet Cru, because you had me first.

All along you were preparing me for the best thing to ever happen to me and I didn’t even realize it. You made accountable, you made me selfless, you made me love and laugh, and you made me a mom. For this, I am grateful.

I miss you, Cru, and I will forever wear your paw prints on my heart.

Dear Furbaby:: I Am A Better Mom Because You Had Me First | Houston Moms Blog
Cru Clark Harris 4.26.2010-4.17.2018. Roberto+ Lori Photography, Alvin, TX

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Shannon M. Clark, MD is a Professor in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at UTMB-Galveston, TX where she is an educator, researcher and clinician. As an ACOG media expert, she contributes to multiple websites, news outlets and magazines regarding pregnancy-related topics. More recently, she has taken a special interest in fertility, pregnancy and motherhood after age 35, which according to age alone, is considered a high-risk pregnancy. She was inspired not only by the experiences of friends and patients, but also by her own personal experience of trying to start a family at the age of 40. Because of her personal and medical knowledge of the fertility and medical concerns surrounding pregnancy after age 35, she started Babies After 35 -a site dedicated to fertility, pregnancy and motherhood after age 35. Sharing her medical expertise and personal experiences, she has written for Huffington Post, Mind Body Green, The Washington Post and Glamour. Dr. Clark became a mother at age 42 to twins Remy Vaughn and Sydney Renée {September 2016} via IVF. She is a full-time working mother with a passion for world travel, writing, amateur photography and her first baby, a pit bull named Cru, who crossed the rainbow bridge 4/17/2018.



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