HypnoBirthing Conclave

Here I document the ever eventful adventures of...well...me.

First of all, I'll state outright that I hate traveling alone. I’m also not overly enamored with pre-dawn morning. Or, if you want to look at the glass as have full, I love sleep. Either way, this adventure started at 2:45 am on Thursday night, er…Friday morning. (It was dark. There were stars. In my opinion, it was still technically the night before.)

Now, originally my husband and I were going to fly together. We determined that was going to be too expensive. Then, we were going to drive. But it was going to require too much time off from work for him, and it really wouldn’t be less expensive with that time and gas as high as it is. So, off I go to TX.

Yes, it is my business trip, my CEUs, my commitment to make a presentation. Really, he goes spelunking while I’m working and keeps me on track when he gets back to the hotel. He books the trip details; he makes sure I get from point A to point B, etc. I CAN do it all myself. I just prefer it when he is my personal assistant. :-)

Despite all that, I arrived without incident; no TSA hassles, my flights were all on time, and I made it to my seat before take off at my connection. (Please notice that all probable issues relate to commercial air flight. I’m starting to wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier to either get a pilot’s license or get rich enough to hire private planes.) I also didn’t sit trapped in metal tube on a runway with someone hacking up a lung, making it obvious that I was breathing contamination, so that was nice.

When I got to the airport, my worries about the next leg (my anxiety revolves around getting lost in big cities) were totally put to rest because Heather Hilton and her merry band of kidlets came to my rescue! How better to start the weekend than to meet 5 wonderful children (who were absolute angels!) and see Heather (likewise an absolute angel, as well as wonderful midwife and friend) again, knowing that I didn’t have to find the right shuttle, wonder if a cab was clocking extra miles, banking on my ignorance, worrying about getting lost, or that we’d actually get to the right hotel of a similar name. If you can’t tell, none of my fears are irrational. They are things that have happened to me, usually while alone. (I know, I know…I need to change some belief pattern and stop manifesting this stuff.)Or as a guy I know would say, "Tap on it!" (He knows who he is.)

Heather got me to the hotel and I finally relaxed a bit. Well, to be honest, I fell asleep. I did say this journey began in the middle of the night, right? I later went downstairs to join the festivities.

It was so nice to see so many familiar faces! It was nice to meet new practitioners too, to be sure, but this year especially, since a beloved practitioner’s passing, it was good to see people who have been around since I started attending these things in 2003.

The conclave team did a great job. Thank you so much for those of you who worked so hard to make this happen! The workshop selections were wonderful. I think I learned more at this conference than any past HypnoBirthing® conference.

Friday night we had a lovely reception, followed by a viewing of Orgasmic Birth by Debra Pascali-Bonaro (www.orgasmicbirth.com). It was phenomenal! I heard people saying it was too long, and indeed some people got up and left. Considering the content was so amazing, I’d have to guess they left not because they didn’t like it, but because their butts were tired of sitting, after a day of travel for most of us. I’ll have to watch it again when I’m not whipped and see. In any case, it is a must see! (Review to come.)

The conference kicked off with a presentation by Karen Strange, who is a dynamic speaker. Her presentation was Birth’s Perfect Design. There was so much in this presentation that it was almost too much to take in, but Karen’s personal style kept us engaged. I was especially interested in the Neonatal Transitional Physiology. She explained how and why the placenta, cord and blood therein belong to the baby, and why disruption of the birth sequence, including the birthing of the placenta and the initiating of breastfeeding which completes the sequence, are detrimental to baby. She also went into great detail in explaining how neural pathways are created through those first few moments after birth. She explained that it causes the brain to ‘fire and wire’ and that the first latch is more than just feeding, it is ‘brain wiring’. I now know what I want to research for my psychology class!

I didn’t attend anything in the next session, as I was presenting something myself, but Pat Sonnenstuhl , CNM did a presentation on Sexuality in Pregnancy and Birth that I would have attended if I could, so she shared her notes and handouts with me.

My presentation went well I think. At least I got decent feedback. I was excited about the topic anyway, so if that ignited others about the reaching more people, I’m happy. Half the workshop was a primer on communication with different ‘publics’ and what we need to know about them to expand our influence. Included was a tiny bit about how different audiences process information, which I’ve written about here on the blog before, so I won’t go into it again. Suffice it to say when you get a room full of 25 or 30 bright people and toss out an idea, the idea grows into something incredible. I expect we all left that room with some ways we might bring HypnoBirthing further into the mainstream, particularly how we might benefit from the influence of HR departments trying to cut costs in the area of health care.

I was pulled up short by one attendee who pointed out that none of we covered in the second half was applicable to her, since she was from the UK and their PR problem would be completely different. She was absolutely right. I didn’t even think about the fact that this was an international conference. We had people from Ireland, Canada, the UK, Singapore, India, and I don’t even know where else. I know at past conferences Mexico, France and Australia have been represented. In any case, shame on me for not thinking about that. I’ll have to learn more about how maternity care works in other countries to see if I can have a wider perspective at the next conclave.

I then attended a workshop on Rapid and Non-verbal Hypnotic Leads with Teresa Van Zeller and it was GREAT! I am so excited to put these techniques into practice!

The dinner Saturday was good, topped off with chocolate decadence. The entertainment was not something I was into, but everyone else seemed to be having a good time. I could have been tired, or it just wasn’t my thing. I don’t know. I only stayed because there was an East Indian group prayer for Mickey and Gene (the founder of HypnoBirthing and her husband) that I felt was important and wanted to attend.

Sunday was a busy day. I had planned to start out my morning with Laura Shanley’s presentation on unassisted birth. I’ve spoken with her online and really wanted to meet her, but I got caught up in something else and didn’t make it.

I did get to Diana Durocher’s class on Endorphin Production for an Orgasmic Birth. I actually had heard enough about orgasmic birth by this time, but I love Diana! She’s so smart and funny I just had to attend her session. There will be at least one line from her presentation that will be pilfered (and she has approved said pilfering) with attribution.

My next session was with Jackie Foskett on how to get HB into hospitals. I think some people had expectations for this presentation that were other than the presenter intended, if some of the questions and comments I heard were any indication. Jackie’s presentation and notes were quite detailed, and I would think quite successful in getting into a hospital to teach…if the hospitals were ready to invite HypnoBirthing in. I think some people wanted to know how to break a sort of invisible barrier that keeps administrators from seeing HypnoBirthing as valuable to their clientèle and the bottom line (which of course it is to both). Jackie was clear that if that barrier exists, it simply isn’t the right time to approach the institution.

I retreated to my room after that last session. As an introvert, I charge my batteries by being alone, or surrounded by a known environment. I didn’t have my husband, my knitting (because my sock needles are so obviously a terrorist threat) or a known environment, so I had to get time alone to breathe whenever I could. That time was limited from Friday night until Sunday afternoon. When I did get to my room Sunday evening, I sort of cocooned and tried to absorb all that had come at me over the weekend.

Unfortunately, as nice as the public areas of the hotel (Double Tree Hotel in Austin, TX) were, spending more time in my room only made me realize the filth I'd been sleeping in. The room was disgusting. I had noticed it wasn't very clean right away. At first I thought I was just being nit-picky at the peeling plaster and stickiness on the baseboards. So what if the bed didn’t have that nice bleach crispness; I pulled back the sheets, and the only nastiness was on the comforter, which is typical. Gross, but typical. (Sometimes I can’t stop myself from watching those investigative reports on Dateline even when I know the information is going to creep me out.) I didn’t flip the mattress, but also didn’t see obvious signs of bed bugs either, so I just made ‘you have a strong immune system’ my mantra and reminded myself that I wasn’t camping with the scorpions and I did have a hot shower. I didn’t want to complain and have housekeeping clean the toilet with my toothbrush or something. (I also rarely return food to the kitchen for fear someone will spit in it. Perhaps that’s too much information about my paranoia? I’ve worked in restaurants. Believe me, it’s not paranoia.)

When I had first arrived at this room, I noticed a snag in the carpet…or so I thought. On the last night (after my room had been ‘cleaned’) I realized, that wasn’t a snag in the carpet; it was a small pile of what could have been omelet (maybe…I didn’t dare get too close to inspect) that just happened to be the same color as that part of the carpet. Knowing that the room couldn’t possibly have been even vacuumed the entire time I’d been there, despite having been ‘serviced’ made me wonder when the last time it HAD might have been. I remembered the muddy footprint my foot made on the floor-towel after walking through some water I dripped on the tile in the bathroom the day before. At the time, I didn’t think about it, but I had shoes on the entire time I’d been out of the room. Any dirt on my bare feet had to have come from walking around in the room. I called my husband just to share the ‘ick’ factor, and of course he told me to change rooms, but considering I was leaving the next morning, I just checked the bedding more closely and packed. I didn’t sleep well that night though.

All in all, the conference made it all worthwhile. It really was that great. For any HypnoBirthing instructor who hasn’t made it to a conclave yet, you really must go. So much work goes into providing us all with the opportunity to share and grow and better serve our communities! It is a wonderful place to take your teacher training because you get to meet experienced practitioners and immediately learn about how to make the most of your new practice. You leave feeling so energized and ready to go out and share the wonders of HypnoBirthing with everyone you meet!


Cindy Unger, HBCE said...

Hi Kim,

Your blog is lovely. I read with interest your post about the Conclave, because I wasn't there this year =(. Also, you mentioned an interest in a research area in psychology--what are you involved with? I am a graduate psychology student and I'm very, very interested in perinatal psychology. I would LOVE to hear about what your pursuits are! -Cindy Unger, HBCE

Wildner said...

Hi Cindy,
The psychology class I mentioned is just one class on my way to a communications degree. My final paper (that I hope to finish today) is on maternal/infant neurophysiology. However, my interest for years has revolved around the psychological/sociological aspects of birth in our culture so I'm always poking about somewhere in those realms.