As I type this, you are a few days past 4 months old, laying in my lap, sucking on your fingers. I'm not sure how 4 months have passed but you are chubby and happy and full of grins and joy. When you are older, I am going to have to apologize for the amount of time it took me to get your birth story typed out but know that it has nothing to do with my love being any less for you than for your brothers. You are the last of my little boys, the last pregnancy, the last csection, the last swaddled burrito, and every one of your firsts will be the last we get to experience. You are so precious, my sweet Clive, you are so loved, and we are doing our best to soak up every moment of you. So without further adeu, here is your birth story.
First of all, I need to reiterate again, just how special you are. On your brother Ames' first birthday, we decided we were ready for one more little love, if the Lord was willing, and He was because about 4 weeks later, I presented a positive pregnancy test to your daddy and we were both overjoyed. Amidst a pandemic, you were conceived, and during such dark, uncertain, and frightening times, the Lord continued to proclaim hope to my soul with every flutter, kick, and hiccup.
We spent all of Christmas up until your birth isolated and away from anyone but family. Each Doctors appointment, I arrived masked up and carrying hand sanitizer. And after 8 months, we scheduled your arrival, January 25th, 2021. Your Daddy and I were to arrive at the hospital before the sun, at 5:30 AM. The night before was an emotional one. I rocked Ames to sleep, tears streaming down my cheeks, struggling to get the words to his favorite hymn out. I couldn't wait to hold your precious frame in my hands. I wasn't sad, but for 8 months and 2 weeks I had rocked the two of you to bed each night, Ames snuggled close, hugging you in my womb. Once I laid him down, I came downstairs and helped Ezra and Myles finish getting together some legos. We laughed. We cried. We prayed...for you, for me, for each of them, that the Lord had and would continue to prepare all of our hearts to grow in love for you and your arrival. That there would be changes but these changes were good and would bring all kinds of new experiences and excitement. I, of course, cried as I sang them to bed, as we prayed, as they placed their hands on my tummy for the last time while you were in my womb. And then I went to bed, too.
We were up around 4:30 AM on your birthday. We had packed up the night before and brought all of our clothes and needed items downstairs so as not to wake anyone. As I was walking downstairs, Myles woke up and hugged me before laying back down. Your daddy and I got ready, stood in the kitchen and read from Every Moment Holy, the Liturgy for the Morning of a Medical Procedure, prayed, and got in the car to drive the short 2 minutes to the hospital. Once, we arrived, things moved quickly. They took us to our room, hooked me and you up to monitors and we began paperwork, getting an IV started, and meeting with the nurses and doctors. Your heartbeat was strong and I was so ready to meet you.
Around 7:20 AM, the OR staff came into the room, had your daddy suit up, and wheeled us back to the operating room. After your oldest two brothers were born, after the hours of pushing and then having to have caesareans, and after Ames scheduled csection, I knew well how this whole procedure worked. I knew that in the operating room, there would be a shortish time that I would be alone without your daddy. While I would sit on the edge of the cold bed, and listen to the anesthesiologist discuss where and how to place the needle for my spinal block, how my mind might race and wonder, that I would then lay down and be moved to another bed, waiting for everything below my arms to become numb. I knew your daddy would be called in after I was numbed and the doctor made the first incision, that this would take about 30 minutes or so, and I would just hope it would move quickly so that he would be there to hold my hand in the several minutes that followed as we waited for her to cut through scar tissue and move back organs, waiting to hear your scream, to see your sweet little face, and then feel like we were the only three people in the room. I knew then to expect them to send you and your daddy back to our room, where yall would be waiting for me. But that I would be laying on the operating table, alone again, longing to hold you in my arms and to have your daddy beside me, rubbing my head or singing you songs.
All the fears and anxieties and concerns I had from the previous experiences were all handled by our loving Heavenly Father. Every. Single. One. On the ride over, I told your daddy how I wish I could have ear buds to listen to scripture or hymns or worship music play as I sat on the table during the anesthesia. And as I sat on that table, the Lord sent the sweetest nurse, Summer, to stand by my side, hold me up, and hum Holy Water in my ear. She didn't know that she was being used as an instrument to calm my anxious heart but oh how the Lord used her. Another nurse then came in and she was familiar with Gloriously Restored and the three of us began chatting about the Gospel, some of our favorite worship songs, and the craziness of of raising babies amidst such trying times. But God. He would strengthen and equip us to raise up a generation that worshipped and proclaimed Him.
When your daddy was able to come in, he never had to leave my side. The Lord orchestrated a new change in the procedure where daddy and baby stayed in the operating room and then went back to the room with me. I also got to see you as soon as you came out, covered in all the goodness and provision from your 9 month stay in my womb. You cried! We cried! My last little boy. At 8:05 AM, you entered the world screaming, all 7 lbs 8ounces and 20 inches of you, proclaiming life and your arrival. I kept my eyes on you the whole time we were in the operating room. I watched as your daddy held you, rocked you, and hummed to soothe you. I watched as your little lip would curl and you'd begin to cry and he would comfort you and calm you. I watched as all the nurses stood in amazement of him, proclaiming, "Look at him! This isn't his first rodeo! This daddy knows how to take care of his babies." I stood in awe of him, too. How the Lord saw fit to raise up this man, teach him to love me and his boys so well. Oh, that will never be lost on me. And you just gazed up at your daddy, tucking that little bottom lip back in, closing your eyes and resting, knowing that you were in the arms of someone who loved you more than you could ever fathom. And I saw such a picture of God, how He was holding me, rocking and humming to me, telling me to tuck my trembling lip back in because He had me and loved me more than I could ever fathom. We spent over an hour in the operating room as they had to finish the procedure and stitch me back up. We were then wheeled back to our room where I was immediately able to hold you. Skin to skin, they placed you against my chest and once again, all fear or anxiety was gone. You were here. You were safe and perfect.
We knew that this delivery would be so different from the others. There would be masks worn by us and the nursing staff and there would be no visitors. Where my heart broke at the thought of you not being met for the first time in the hospital by your brothers and our closest family and friends, I was also looking forward to the 3 days of just us. Holding you and peering into your eyes, smelling your newborn scent, snuggling you close and not having to share you for the first few days of your life. It was the sweetest time. You nursed right away, like a pro, nestled into my chest and the wave of emotions from the months that led up to that moment washed over me. Your birth was the easiest. Everything went smoothly, I was in little pain, and the time spent alone allowed for much needed rest before returning home.
It took us a while to name you, several hours. We looked at you and looked at you. When we walked in, we were pretty sure you'd be Clive Declan but I just had to see you first. And around lunchtime, we were certain. We sent messages to family and friends of your arrival and facetimed Myles, Ezra, Ames, and MawMaw. The screenshot of their first seeing you was priceless. Myles had his hand over his mouth in awe, Ezra cried, and Ames just had the cheesiest grin. You were loved more the most people could ever dream of being loved by those three little boys before you were even an hour old. And their love for you has only grown.
Clive (by the bank of the river) Declan (man of prayer), it is my greatest desire that you will be like a tree planted along the river bank, bearing fruit each season, that your leaves never wither, and that you prosper in all you do (Psalm 1:3) and that you grow into a mighty man of prayer, that you recognize it's power and the intimacy that prayer brings between you and your Father. Banks is a name that I have always loved, but it just didn't seem to fit. Your daddy had been rooting for Clive the whole time, after CS Lewis. Needtobreathe came out with a new album, you know how much we love them, and one of their songs was titled "Banks." I just felt something within me when I heard the lyrics for the first time "I wanna hold you close but never hold you back, like the banks of a river." I cried and I knew that your name had to have something to do with a riverbank. And then one night, when I finally conceded and looked up the meaning of Clive, I knew it was meant for you, "by the bank of a river." There are so many biblical references to water, how it is life giving and how life flows from it, and so many times in my past, with pregnancies and a desire to have more children , during our miscarriage and the waiting to become pregnant again, that the Lord continued to point me to verses about water and the rivers edge, hymns about rivers and living water. And then He gave us you, our grand finale, our Clive Declan, and I just know He has so many wonderful, amazing, God-sized plans for you. And what a joy to get a front row seat to the work He will do in your life, my littlest love.
So, even though its been 4 months and 7 days, I remember your birth like it was yesterday, and I will always remember it. But now you can someday read about it, too.