Tuesday, June 29, 2010

BIRTH STORY: The Beginning

(written by Laura Gilkey, about the birth of Michael Banyan, 06.29.04)

Last journal entry before the birth

Tuesday, June 29, 2004, 3:30 pm

Able to relax on the couch...learning how to breathe and moan through the contractions really well...I just wanted to thank you again for such a beautiful, wonderful, comfortable pregnancy. I will always cherish this time of my life when I was able to hold you inside my soul. Papa is being so wonderful! He's inflated our birth pool and he's making our bed and getting everything ready. He's just as excited as I am!

Soon...Love, Mama


First journal entry after the birth

You are the most beauty I have ever seen in all my life. You have changed me forever and I am so thankful to you and for you that it SPILLS out of my heart. Here is the story of your arrival into this world.

As I last wrote on the day of your birth, the rain was coming down in hard, white cascades all around our house, washing over us with each contraction. Papa and I started to watch a movie after he finished getting everything ready...which, by the way, he did a great job of...we joked about it looking like the movie E.T. with all the plastic dropcloths everywhere! We didn't make it through the movie, but it was a nice diversion as we rested between contractions.

I started to need to get up and move around during the contractions, and that seemed to help a lot...it was Papa's idea, and he walked right behind me the whole time, doing laps around the house with his hand rubbing my back. He fed me a raspberry yogurt to keep my energy up and I drank lots of herbal tea and water. When the contractions were very hard for me, I got in the bathtub a couple of times to take the edge off...that was very nice.

It is so surreal to me, thinking back to how I thought it would be and remembering how it actually was. For example, I thought I would certainly want music, and we even turned on a CD (Ray Charles) between contractions once. But once the next contraction came, I didn't want the noise anymore. Through the whole labor the only things that really helped me, my two sole means of strength, were your father's arms and my own voice. His arms kept me steady and I just needed to concentrate on getting my own sound as LOW as I possibly could. My moans sounded like deep tenor "O's" that vibrated deep down in my belly to surround you and squeeze you out into the world.

Papa had been timing my contractions for about an hour or so, and they were between 45 seconds and a minute long, and 2.5-4 minutes apart. We tried once more attempt at conserving our energy by watching this man win his 20th Jeopardy in a row, then we decided to call Anne, who was your midwife on call. I thought that maybe I wasn't brave enough, that it was too soon to call her, that I didn't know the right time and that I was surely only 4 cm dilated. This was all about 8:00 or so...Anne arrived shortly after, about 8:15 or 8:30. First she observed us through some contractions and took my vital signs. She listened to your heartbeat and watched us a bit more, then helped me to our bed to measure my cervix. I couldn't believe my ears...6-8 cm! We were almost in transition! She quickly started to fill the birth pool and ask Papa where all of our supplies were. Papa called Mimi and Aunt Sarah and told them to come on over...you would be born SOON!

I stayed on our bed for a while, and the contractions were coming very closely together. That was when it REALLY helped to feel the vibrations in my own deep voice...I just concentrated on that, and on blowing out my lips like a horse, trying to keep my bottom half loose and open. I was still on the bed when Mimi arrived, and I was so happy to see her! Aunt Gana came soon after that, and I had one or two more contractions before Anne asked me if I wanted to get into the birth pool. I did, and it felt nice. We had lit candles through the house too, including the one we made for Aunt Sarah for your cousin Lotus's birth (but he came so quickly it was never lit!). We also were diffusing some essential oils in the house...clary sage and lavender, mostly...and when I got into the birth pool that was ALL I smelled. It was nice, but a bit too strong, so I remember asking Aunt Sarah to take it out of the room. I'm sorry I'm jumping around so much--Aunt Sarah had arrived right after I got into the pool, and she had an armful of beautiful wildflowers for us! She was SO excited to watch you arrive. The birth pool was in your room, and it felt very good--right--to be in there.

I had a few more contractions before we started to push. I can't really describe what it felt like, but I think I enjoyed that part the most. I knew you would be with us soon, and it felt like you were really helping me to do the work.

Papa might have to tell you this part of the tale from his perspective...he had a better view than I did! Everyone gathered in the room to watch your birth. Heidi would up being Anne's birth assistant, which was wonderful for us, we always wanted both of them there! So in the room at the time of your homecoming were: you, me, Papa, Mimi, Aunt Sarah, Aunt Gana, Heidi and Anne. I was aware of their mixed voices telling me how well we were doing. I pushed HARD and your beautiful little head with all of its thick, long, straight black hair, was born. Then it becomes a bit blurry to me. I had to get out of the pool and into bed...I was incredulous, I couldn't believe I was supposed to lift myself out of the water! The rest of your birth happened very quickly. I felt my body being lifted up...Papa gathered all of the strength he had and ignored his sleeping arms and legs (from my grasping) and carried me from the pool to the bed in your room. Your umbilical cord was wrapped around your little neck, and they wanted me out of the water to make sure they could get your body out quickly. One more big push and you were here! INTO MY WORLD, INTO MY ARMS, MY BEAUTIFUL BANYAN BOY!
So at 10:57 pm on Tuesday, June 29, 2004, you were born to us. They placed you on my belly and I felt so much pride! It was my proudest moment, knowing we had done it, all three of us. You didn't get that first really good cry in right away, and the midwives were worried because your heart rate had dropped from the cord being wrapped around your neck. So they suctioned your mouth and nose and put some oxygen to your face. I asked you to please cry for me...I remember saying "please" a lot. Your eyes fluttered open and from your mouth came the most beautiful sound I'd ever heard. Papa was crying, so thankful and relieved. As the midwives worked to get your heart and lungs acclimated to the world outside, everyone kept saying "he" when they talked about you. So I asked, "is he a boy?" and the midwives lifted up your little legs and said yes, you were a boy...and I hugged you and kissed you and whispered your name, "Oh Banyan, thank you!"

Aunt Gana called Grammy and Grandpa and told them it was time to come over and meet their grandson. They asked your name, and Gana asked if she could tell them...so Papa announced to everyone present that your name, strong and beautiful, shall be MICHAEL BANYAN.

Editor's note: This story was written by hand, in ink, in my pregnancy journal. That medium did not afford editing, and I felt it unjust to edit the story in retelling it here, whether grammar or medical details be slightly askew. The story in my journal continues to describe at length the painful ordeal that was Banyan's transfer, three hours post-birth, to Sarasota Memorial Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit for suspected meconium aspiration. After five of the longest and most excruciating days of our lives, we brought him home. This was the one benefit of the transfer. From my journal:

Bringing you home was easily one of the most perfect moments of my life. The second we walked in the door, your eyes widened and became much more aware--you could sense that the energy here was YOUR energy. I showed you your house and sat down to feed you your first homecoming "meal." That was the happiest moment I'd had since you were born. Papa and I kissed, and I could not stop smiling.
Happy sixth birthday, Banyan. I still can't stop smiling. It is an absolute privilege to watch you grow.

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