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Dear Laura:
So how did this all begin... I had many emotions when I found out I was pregnant. I felt excited, anxious, joy, and worst of all a deep seated fear of going through labor and delivery. I was never really good at handling pain. In fact, when I have blood drawn at the doctor's office, I usually bring someone to hold my hand (yes, even as an adult). So how was I going to deliver a baby?

About a year and half ago I saw a special on Dateline about women who used hypnosis to get over their fear and pain of childbirth. I figured I had nothing to lose so I started looking for a hypnotherapist in the Atlanta area. That's when I found you Laura.

You made a very good first impression on the phone when we spoke. You really cleared up my misconceptions of what hypnosis really is. All I had ever really seen were shows where audience members of hypnotized and told to do silly things. So I made an appointment. Our first session was wonderful. I did not think I would get so much out of one session. You told me I was going to feel very good after I left and I did. I continued to come back for a few more sessions. I could certainly see where it was helping me.

During my eighth month, I began taking a childbirth class. One of the things they taught us was about the different stages of labor and approximately how long each one lasts. You and I discussed this in one of our last sessions. You asked me how long I thought I would be in each stage of labor and what and where it is I would be. You wrote it down and then added up the time. It came out to 10 hours. I thought that's too short for the first baby. After all, there are some women who are in labor for a few days. You told me my labor can be more of what I want it to be and less of what some book says it should be.

Around 6:30AM I called the doctor to tell her about my contractions.At 7:45am as I was putting on my coat to leave for the hospital I felt a pop and suddenly my pants were all wet. My God, my water had broken. This was for real. The baby was really coming.

When I was 10 centimeters the nurse said, You're ready to push. I started pushing at 11:30am. At least I felt like I was pushing. I started to hear your voice from one of our sessions as you told me to visualize the baby coming through the birth canal. I really felt like I could see this and I was able to focus on where I needed to push (even though I still couldn't feel it). At 12:10 my beautiful baby girl was born. The whole labor and delivery lasted 10 hours, just like I said it would during our last session. In fact, the whole thing occurred almost exactly like I said it would. How long each stage would last, where I would be for each stage, how dilated I would be when I arrived at the hospital, etc.

This experience has made me a true believer in the strength of the mind. About an hour after she was born, I decided the whole experience was so worth it, I'm already looking forward to the next (although I can certainly wait a few years). I know I babbled a lot to tell you about this whole experience but I don't think I could have done it without your help. You were certainly right about how we can make things worse than they have to be when we let things we've heard or past experiences influence our minds. I have already, and continue to advocate hypnosis for anyone woman who fears going through childbirth or for stress in life in general. If I hadn't gone through it myself, I wouldn't have believed it could really work. My daughter, Ayanna, and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Here are some current pictures of Ayanna who will be four months old March 26, 2001.

Corinne Matthews