Trip Start Nov 19, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Mercury and Carlee's house

Flag of United States  , Washington
Friday, August 27, 2010

On September 6th at 6:09PM I became a Grandmother for the first time to Marina Dale Michael.  She was 8lbs 8.4 oz and 21 inches long when she arrived.  As Mercury gently placed his baby girl in my open arms, I could feel the shift in myself as the love and bond of family connected and strengthened.  As she looked up into my eyes I could see the line of ancestors being pushed farther back as the new generation took on the present and future.  Her dark dark eyes at only 12 hours old were taking me in and learning who she is on this Earth plane.

Mercury is a natural Dad.  He carries her around with the ease of carrying his dog Pepper Long-Shanks.  Marina is calm and comfortable in his hands.  Already he was changing diapers and swaddling her like a pro!  When she fussed, she calmed down with his touch. 

We arrived at Mercury and Carlee's home on Manzanita Road, Bainbridge Island, Washington, Friday August 27th.  We were in a rush to get to them as Carlee was due to deliver a baby girl the next day!  Barbara or "Mamaloons" - Carlee's Mom - was there for support and love and connection.  Andy and I had a heck of a time getting to Bainbridge by due date.  We got hit by lightning, struggled to get back on the road for three weeks as we lived in the Dodge repair shop parking lot in Rapid City, SD, dealt with Insurance Agents and mechanics, then flying to Ohio for Andy to buy a new RV just so we could go the 2000 miles or so ahead of us to get to Bainbridge on time.  We were so relieved and happy to be with the family and to have arrived before the baby was born.  Mercury, Carlee and Carlee's brother Alden all live at the Manzanita house where Barbara raised her two kids.  Barb has moved to the shore and farm of Vashon Island with her partner Doug.  Now Marina Dale will make it three generations of Barbara's family to live in this lovely, loving, high bank house on Manzanita Bay.  Being a drifter of sorts for much of my adult life, I appreciate this kind of heritage and longevity.  I love the idea of a family compound.

We all greeted each other and showed Merc and Carlee our new RV whom we now call, "Orca" for the black and white tribal markings on his exterior.  Carlee was marvelously pregnant but I guess Marina had a different date in mind.  Carlee did not give birth on the 28th or the 29th and began feeling like tightening her wagon circle to include only those few most intimate family members and friends.  Andy and I lived in Orca across the road where Mercury had cleared a great area out of the woods.  Andy and Merc ran electricity to the spot.  Just a few trips to Home Depot and we had a home that made us neighbors instead of guests. Out of the driveway and into our own woodsy pad.  During the next week while trying to pretend we weren't waiting for Carlee to go into labor,  we got to be with Mercury as he continued on his Real Estate business as well as keeping his sights on the ongoing restoration of their wonderful fixer upper home on Madison Ave, where he plans to raise his family.  As Mercury gave us the tour of the Madison house we could hear Carlee and the not yet born Marina laughing and cooking and playing in the yards and gardens of this magical property.  Carlee's talents will make the landscape and home come alive!  Mercury's Renaissance talents will do a bit of everything!  Andy and I are so proud. 

The call came on Monday morning, September 6th - Labor Day -... Merc told us they were leaving for the 5:30AM Ferry to Seattle to get Carlee to the birthing center with her Mid-Wife and assistant.  Doug and Barbara had arrived and will be with them the whole way.  Andy and I were to stay behind and help in any way we could to keep the home fires burning.  We had hoped to feed the chickens and walk Pepper but already these daily chores were covered by their neighbor, Nicole.  So we waited.  And waited.  Barbara called with updates telling us how Carlee was working like a champion in her labor and Mercury was talking to her and loving her through every turn and moment.  Crying with and for her when the labor got tough and telling her how grateful he was to her for going through this for them.  In his own words he told her she was magnificent in her strength and he loved her more deeply than ever. 

Carlee had chosen to give birth at the Birthing Center in Seattle where her Mid-wife could deliver the baby with her.  She had also chosen to deliver naturally and in a bath of warm water.  Marina would be born into an environment she was already used to but be able to stretch for the first time.  The breath intake instinct begins only when air hits their faces so there is no worry about breathing in water. The umbilical cord continues to feed oxygen and all the life support she would need for at least 4 or more minutes after birth.  This process gives the newborn a gentle entrance into our rugged world.   Carlee had been in labor for about 35 hours, had gone through Transition (the last stage of dilation) and was in her pushing phase when her water broke with some discoloration from Marina having exercised her digestive tract minutes before.  The Midwife and her assistant discussed at length the possible outcomes with this new development and gave Carlee the choice whether to risk the 5% chance of Marina respirating and being at the Birthing Center where they are not equipped to help her or get into their car and drive the 25 minutes to the hospital while Marina was in the birth canal!  Carlee's strength and love never faultered as they packed the room around her for the trip. 

Once in the delivery room at the hospital she was attended by a staff of 8 nurses and a doctor as well as the Midwife and assistant, Mercury and Barbara. Doug was in the waiting room playing the more traditional role of the man waiting while the women labored.  The harrowing experience of being moved from one facility to another after driving for 25 minutes while in the last and final stages of labor was made more bearable by having Barbara and Doug there to organize, get directions and drive.  Carlee and Marina were hard at work for another hour or more before Marina Dale was placed on Carlee's chest in her waiting hands.  Mercury stood guard making sure the lights were low, that Marina would be allowed to rest atop her Mom immediately after birth letting the umbilical cord finish its work on its own before cutting her free.  He made sure that Carlee got the attention she could get after not being able to deliver in the desired bath.  Mother and Daughter were healthy and happy and getting to know each other.  Marina began her nursing to Carlee's amazement at how strong she suckled.   The drive for life is strong and Marina's instincts are "spot on"!!

Mercury stayed in the hospital room with Carlee and Marina overnight arriving back on Bainbridge Tuesday around 6:00pm.  Carlee was beautiful and walking although tired and in need of many days of rest and recuperation.  Mamaloons and Me, Granny Po or Podie - Marina will have to help decide what to call me- were just the women to help in that.  For the next week, Barbara helped Carlee in all intimate ways while we both shopped and cooked the current meals as well as got meals packed up in their freezer for later.   Alden made and baked the most gorgeous pies for us all to revel in.  One a Banana Cream Caramel and one a fresh blueberry.  They were good enough to make any meal seem like the best meal you have ever had.  Mamaloons made sure Marina got to watch her Uncle make pie to celebrate her arrival!

A week of wanting to be ever present, holding, changing, bathing and dressing Miss Marina and yet also wanting to be non-invasive had Andy and I following Carlee's needs for privacy, Barbara's lead and Mercury's openness for us to join him in his errands.  We stayed out of the daily dressing and changing but got to hang out with Marina between nursing and sleeping and every evening.  We took walks with Barbara and Doug, we went to the Madison house for a walk and got my visuals of where my Son and Grand-daughter will be living which gave me a sense of belonging and being a 'part of' Mercury's family, even while Andy and I live most of the year 3000 miles away!  Pat, Mercury's father and his wife Linda have bought a 10 acre farm in a nearby town.  During the couple of years of renting it they sold their New York residence and wound up their business. They will be moving to the farm by December.  The family compound on the Michael side begins!!  Zachariah, Mercury's brother lives in California so I will be the only one who lives far away from the family goings on.  I will see what time will tell me as to how that feels.  Two homes?  RV living offers a multitude of living options.

It was time for Mercury, Carlee and Marina to build their routine as a family of three.  Barb was to stay around for any help still needed, so Andy and I packed up our meager set up and took to the road.  My heart beats on with a new knowledge from a new perspective.  To see myself as a Grandmother helps make my aging more beautiful and meaningful.  I love Carlee for loving my son and for giving him a perfect baby girl.  As I grow into my new status I pray for grace and gentleness and compassion for others so I may live in harmony with the ever changing needs of myself and my loved ones. 
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olivia and dick on

Again, all thanks for keeping us posted...we love the name Marina Dale....and always hearing from you...and the beautiful pictures of Mercury, Carlee, and,Olivia

Buffalo Daniel on

Congratulations Grandma

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