Matt and I both had the day off, which is not usual for a Tuesday. The reason for the mid-week break was that we were booked in for a day-long course about "hypnobirthing," essentially deep relaxation techniques to be used during birth. Because of my less-than-ideal experience last time, I want to be sure that I go into this upcoming birth with no fears or anxieties about what might happen to me, and hypnobirthing came highly recommended from SuperMum Down Under, Raina. Anna and Chris recently did a 2-day group course through the same practitioner, Helianthe Rusken of London's Hypnoclinic. Rather than a 2-day weekend course that would have required us to figure out what to do with Blake for 2 days, we opted for a condensed day at home with Helianthe.
After getting Blake to nursery and buying a few things for lunch, I came home to find that thankfully Matt had found time to vacuum and clean the bathroom. I was a little anxious about the day ahead - Would I feel relaxed? Would Matt think it was all a crock of sh&t, Would we be warm enough in the drafty house, What if I got the giggles?
A little before 10:00 the bell rang and we greeted Helianthe, a lively Dutch woman armed with a trolley suitcase and a lot of energy and enthusiasm at being with us. We spent a while talking about why we wanted to do the hypnobirthing and what we wanted out of the day - namely being able to feel more relaxed, more in control of the events of the birth, getting rid of the past experience of my tearing, etc. Over the course of the next seven hours - minus a lunch break - we did lots of breathing exercises and Matt learned about "anchors", things like pressing my shoulders or gliding his fingertips up my arm, which will be actions we will practice in the next couple of weeks so that when he does them on the day I can remember to be calm, breathe and relax. At first I found it somewhat difficult to let things go, and we'd be doing a breathing exercise while in my mind I was wondering if there was a gaggle of our neighbors gathered outside the window looking in and sniggering at how ridiculous we looked [of course that wasn't happening]. I did get the giggles several times, but it was ok and the three of us laughed and said that Matt and I would get better at some of the phrases and visualization as we got comfortable with what worked. In my mind I went lots of places during the day - in the kitchen at the Clinton house, back to the room where I had my massage at Casa las Brisas when we were on honeymoon in Mexico, high above the treetops in the hot-air balloon over Chiang Mai in Thailand...the mind is powerful!
The best was a deep relaxation exercise we did which lasted half an hour (I thought afterwards it had been 10 minutes) where I must have fallen asleep (Matt told me later I was snoring). I felt fabulous afterwards! Toward the end of the day we did an exercise with an ice cube and tried to emulate the feeling of discomfort that a "wave" or "surge" (rather than "contraction") might bring. The point of this one was to try to focus on the breathing rather than the ice cube and I think overall, it should all come together to help me feel more positive on the day. In the fading light of our living room, Helianthe gave us some encouraging words and said she would be in touch, packed up her trolley suitcase, gave us both a big bear hug, and headed off.
With that, I am going to turn off the computer, go do some slow breathing while I fall asleep, and look forward to a relaxed, calm and natural birth!