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Birth Days, Birthdays, and Birth Daze


Photography by Ron Hamad, all rights reserved

The day I went into labor is now my daughter’s birthday, but it is also my birth day, something we will always share. Some of that day is just a daze, a birth daze.  Yet there is a vividness too.  I had no idea 9 years ago on what the journey was going to be like becoming a parent with the baby outside of the womb.  It was as if I was living in a dreamland during my pregnancy.  I was so internal, and preoccupied with my physical experience.  The changes in my body and cravings in my appetite, they just all seemed so huge, overwhelming at times, but mostly in a good way.

I loved being pregnant.  Adored it.  I look back at it with such reverie. Being in that glow and connecting so deeply to the baby growing inside of me continues to fuel the passion from which I drew to co-create Pregnancy Awareness Month, and to continue to breathe life into it each year for the past seven years.

Of course I had morning sickness (all day long), leg cramps, I gained a LOT of weight (60+ lbs), trouble sleeping.  But I also meditated more deeply, and practiced and taught prenatal yoga.  It was magical.

Nine years ago, on her birth day, I was definitely in a birth daze.  I felt completely off center, but couldn’t quite put my finger on why.  I was fumbling with closing up my from-home business, I thought prepping for the pending birth…but it was like working in molasses.  Things were slow and sticky.  I didn’t really finish any of the tasks in my to do list.  A doula literally presented herself to me that morning, seriously.  She was a yoga student of mine at Golden Bridge Yoga in Hollywood, and she came to my house to offer being my doula as a present for my being her teacher.  Nancy Beyda took one look at me during our 11am meeting and said, “I think you are going into labor.”  I was feeling some strange mild cramping, but again felt so disconnected from it all…could it be?

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I looked at my hubby and panicked.  I quickly realized my business would not be wrapped up before she was delivered.  Also, I realized that I had not prepared my hospital bag…and there was still stuff to buy.  Oops!  So we started calling friends and asking them to make a Whole Foods run…all as I wandered the house with that strange cramping that would momentarily take my breath away.

I believe I was in a birth daze for sure. What I have learned since from Dr. Michel Odent, is that the mind goes into a meditative hormonal state when you initiate labor.  It is actually important, because it helps for instinct to kick in.  This is why some of the birthing practices of the modern world intrude with nature.  The bright lights, the constant flow of nurses in and out of your room, the machines….while modern medicine is incredibly helpful and important, there is an element that can inhibit or seriously slow down our process.  I digress…

By 3pm, during Oprah, I started having contractions that could be timed.  I called my midwife and my doula.  By 6pm they had both visited.  I was only at 1/2 centimeter.  My midwife went home.  My doula stayed with me that night, coaching me and my husband.  Rubbing my back.  Nancy you were a godsend.  By 4:40am my water officially broke and the intense labor began.  My midwife came and by 9:45 I was at 10 1/2 centimeters…oops, we were going to dash to the hospital at 7 1/2 centimeters….long story which I will save for another post.

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I wound up spontaneously having her at home, with my midwife, my doula, my OB, my BFF, my business partner, and of course my hubby all with me.  Do I remember pain?  Not really.  I remember that I had back labor, and I think that wasn’t fun.  But I have no memory of the pain.  No ring of fire when she crowned.  I did not have any meds of course, I was at home.  I never thought I was in too much pain, or that I couldn’t take it.  I was tired.  Very tired.  When I pushed her out right before 2pm I was shocked at how small and fragile she was.  I was also surprised at how completely unnatural it felt to hold her or to breastfeed.  Both of which became second nature later, but that first time, I was struck at my awkwardness.

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I toast to myself today, nine years later, at the marvel of labor.  At the incredible strength and flexibility of the female body.  To my coaches and friends and my lover who was with me the whole time.  And to my beautiful daughter, who continues to teach me each day how to be patient, to pause, to breathe, and to trust myself.

Happy Birthday Roma!  Happy Birth Day to me!

Alisa B. Donner, MSW, LCSW, Co-Founder of PAM, and mom to a magnificent wonder!

The photo is from our birth announcement, and the shot is by my uber talented husband, Ron Hamad (director and photographer). If you use it you need to at minimum credit him, but we really would prefer you email and make a request.  Thank you.

**REMINDER – Pregnancy Awareness Month’s blog post is for moms and expectant parents by moms (and of course some experts sprinkled in – and some mom’s are licensed board certified experts!).  HOWEVER, we are not giving blanket ADVICE on what you should be doing, eating, how you should be exercising, parenting, etc.  These are opinions, food for thought….think about it all, talk with your mate, and when it comes to diet, exercise, and health questions, ALWAYS discuss and seek advice from your medical health provider.



Alisa B. Donner, birth day, birthday, birthing, doula, home birth, midwife, midwifery, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Awareness Month

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