I Majorly Failed At Hypnobirthing

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shutterstock_142144441__1383754325_142.196.156.251Before the birth of my first child, I was really hell-bent on experiencing a natural birth. I was told hypnobirthing would get me there – so we decided to try it.

Hypnobirthing is designed to teach women to trust in Nature’s way of birth and to relax and let their bodies do what is needed.  If I’d had any kind of self-awareness at all I would have realized this would never work for me. My brain is constantly going. For example, right now I am planning what to cook for dinner in my head while writing this article. I can’t help it.

We found a doula in Brooklyn who was certified and signed up. We showed up for the first class, which was naturally being held above a holistic massage school in a room that doubled as a yoga studio. That sounded about right. We took off our shoes and sat in a circle awaiting the arrival of the other couples.

The first few sessions were mostly comprised of listening to the doula read aloud from the book Hypnobirthing Made Easy. It was the middle of a New York summer, so it was about 94 degrees outside and 90 percent humidity. The yoga studio was hot as hell, and the doula didn’t want to compete with the hum of the AC so she kept it on low. That all of the sweaty, annoyed pregnant women in the room didn’t revolt, push the doula on her face, and turn the AC on is truly a miracle.

I was becoming increasingly annoyed that I was paying someone $350 to read from a book that I already owned, with a bunch of other nervous couples around, like some bizarre story time from hell. When was the hypno part of this hypnobirthing class going to happen?

It turned out it was the following week, thank God, because we were really about to quit. I took a deep breath and got ready for this hypnosis I was sure would work.

Close your eyes.  Relax your lids, relax your jaw.  Relax into your seat. Now imagine, visualize, or pretend that you are standing on a staircase. There are ten steps that you will walk down-each step will take you deeper and deeper. Nine, deeper and deeper.  Eight, deeper and deeper.  Seven, deeper and deeper… 

Now, look down at your hand.  You are aware of your hand.  You know it belongs to your body.  Notice that you cannot move your hand.  You are unable to move your hand, but this does not scare you.  You approach this with acceptance.

Meanwhile, back in reality, I am waving my hand around wildly – because I can. I take a look around the circle and see that no one else is though. Everyone has their eyes closed, I am the only one cheating. I glance over at my husband – he’s fucking sleeping. This is bullshit.

I am now going to count back from ten.  When I finish, you will open your eyes, be in this room, and regain full control of your hand.  Ten, nine, eight…

I pinch my husband to wake him up and wait for all of the fakers to “be in the room.”  Our instructor opens up the floor, so we can all share our experience with the hypnosis.

That was so relaxing! I really couldn’t move my hand. 

It was strange. I was here, but I wasn’t.

I felt like I was walking into a lake.

What? I hate to fail publicly, but I couldn’t hold my tongue.

I could totally move my hand. I was moving my hand the whole time. In fact, I can’t imagine a time when I would be conscious, and not be able to totally move my hand. That would never happen.  

The doula looks at me, shakes her had kind of sadly and says, Maria, have you always had control issues?

Whatever, lady. Maybe.

(photo: chevanon/ Shutterstock)