Readyville's Amanda Johnson gave birth at home to her sons Waylon, 3, and Clarence, 18 months, under self-hypnosis without anesthesia, and now she's teaching classes on the technique. JOHN BUTWELL / The Murfreesboro Post
Several "coincidences" occurred four years ago that led to Readyville's Amanda Johnson having two young sons, giving birth to them using self-hypnosis instead of anesthesia, and teaching workshops on the Hypnobabies technique for other expectant mothers.
Back in 2012, doctors told Amanda Johnson and her husband Patrick that they couldn't have a child, so they decided to start looking for one to adopt.
But a month later, this remarkable Rutherford woman found out doctors aren't always right - and eight months later, her oldest son Waylon, 3, was born.
Born and raised in McMinnville, a straight-A student who was valedictorian of her class at Warren County High School, the former Amanda Stubblefield came to Murfreesboro to finish a degree in mechanical engineering at MTSU that she began at UT-Knoxville.
While she was in school, she met Patrick, who was raised in Rutherford County. She went to work for an engineering firm in Franklin after graduation - but she says it was making her miserable.
She loved studying math and science in school, but applying it practically as a job wasn't her cup of tea. So she decided to go back to school - but then she discovered she was expecting.
"When I got pregnant, my mom and everybody else started telling me all the horror stories about childbirth," Johnson recalls. "I decided that it didn't have to be that way."
She started researching different types of childbirth and discovered Hypnobabies - a trademarked method that involves changing your mindset about giving birth and using self-hypnosis instead of anesthesia.
The program is written by Hypnobabies founder and director Kerry Tuschhoff, a certified hypnotherapist and childbirth educator who teaches both the method for mothers - and classes in how to teach Hypnobabies.
So Johnson enrolled in the classes for mothers. And before long, she gave birth virtually without pain to her "miracle baby," Waylon - attended by a midwife - in a birthing tub at home.
She had planned to go back to college and teach math and physics. But when Waylon was born, she decided to be a stay-at-home mom. She also plans to home-school her children.
Commits to teaching
And now she has a second little "miracle" boy 18 months younger - Clarence, age 18 months. (Yes, the Johnsons are country music fans, and their eldest son is partly named after Waylon Jennings, while Clarence's middle name is Hank).
Clarence was born after a second round of Hypnobabies classes, sort of a refresher course, in a second virtually pain-free birth - again at home. And Johnson decided to teach, after all.
But not math.
Johnson recently completed the teaching course from Hypnobabies and is certified to teach other parents how the technique works.
She plans to teach a couple of classes at a time so she can still spend most of her time with her two boys, her 10-year-old Chihuahua named Wednesday for the day he was born, and her husband - who works for New Frontiers, a Christian adventure camp featuring zip lines, paintball, wall climbing, canoeing, cave exploring and more in DeKalb County's Dowelltown.
The couple also raises pygmy goats and enjoys organic gardening on the mini-farm in Readyville that they bought at a foreclosure sale. They call themselves "locavores" because they prefer to eat food raised locally, and they aim to be as self-sufficient as possible.
Patrick coordinates surprise
Johnson also has a large collection of light-green jadeite dishes on her kitchen shelves because Patrick "pays attention," she quips. "We were in Florida because his grandpa died, and we went to this shop where they had lots of pieces of jadeite for sale."
They looked, but decided not to buy right then. Later, on the way home, she checked on eBay and discovered that the store's prices had been really good.
When she told Patrick she should have purchased a few pieces, he just smiled and said yes, she should have.
"When we got home, he called his mom - who was still in Florida - and told her to buy all of it she could, and arranged for all of my family and his to buy pieces from her," Johnson recalls. For Christmas that year, everything she got was another piece of the pretty mint green glassware.
"It was great, and all because he listened," she describes with a grin.
Christmas: 'Magic time'
Christmas is always a busy, magic time for her family, Johnson adds. "We try to make it as magic as we can. We do Christmas morning here and then we go all over the place."
That includes seeing her parents Larry and Patricia Stubblefield in McMinnville; her only brother Matthew Stubblefield, a McMinnville police officer; and Patrick's parents, Tony and Sue Johnson, in LaVergne.
Family has always been important to Johnson. She says her mom started her on the way to wanting to research everything and always know what to expect - like she did when she discovered her first pregnancy and began researching Hypnobabies.
"As a child, when I was going into a new grade, my mom would tell me what was going to happen, what to expect," she says. "It made me feel safer."
'Birthing time,' not 'labor'
Now she plans to make other people feel safer and more comfortable. Hypnobabies doesn't use the term "labor," for instance, setting the expectation that childbirth will be difficult "hard work" - the technique calls it "birthing time."
And "contractions" - which inherently sound painful - are described as "pressure waves" instead.
"Learning to eliminate fear can eliminate pain," Johnson explains. "I don't tell anyone what to do - I just tell them about their options. I tell them it's all about communication. You decide what your goals are and talk to your doctor. You have to trust your doctor, and your doctor has to trust you."
Her classes - which are limited to six couples and involve both of the "birthing partners" in each couple - meet once a week for six weeks. They include a guide book and several CDs to teach the parents how to use self-hypnosis to help make childbirth a positive experience.
Become a team
"It's all about being a team with the doctor and the nurses," Johnson says, quipping, "You should bring the nurses a treat, cookies or brownies, not something healthy."
But the classes also include lessons on eating healthy foods and doing enough exercise while you're pregnant to help make the birth experience easier as well, according to Johnson.
The classes will start in Murfreesboro at Studio South on Veterans Parkway on Saturday, June 11, and in Readyville at Cripple Creek Presbyterian Church - where the Johnsons are members - on Tuesday, June 14. For cost, times and/or to enroll, go to www.gentlevoiceprenatalsupport.com or call (615) 707-9332.
With two boys under 3 underfoot, Johnson even manages to give an interview with remarkable attention to skillful parenting. As she gives them a choice of educational videos to watch, she simultaneously uses psychology to get them to behave: "Let's play a game of who can sit on the couch the longest."
Obviously, Johnson's commitment to researching the best way to do things didn't stop with the birth of her children - but it blossomed there, having started when she was just a little girl in grade school.
And having discovered a better way to give birth - this remarkable Rutherford woman wants to share her knowledge with other expectant parents, one dozen at a time.
Writer Connie Esh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.