Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Reinforcements Aren't Coming

Armed with a growth mindset, we all need to learn to trust our best judgment, to own our decisions and to be committed and follow through. Some time ago I applied to represent Australia at a preeminent leadership conference overseas. Of all applicants, ten delegates were to be selected for this incredible honour. I was quietly confident about my prospects - ok, I was pretty certain I'd be accepted - and had already planned my overseas holiday around the event. He wasn't sure what creaked most, the stairs or his knees! He opened a glass cabinet door, reached in and sought his business diary. He placed the journals side by side. His was leather bound, his name embossed in gold. His son's was tatty and frayed with a hand-drawn picture on the front. The old man ran a bony finger across the name `Jimmy' scribbled on the cover. He opened his business journal and read some of the entries. There were notes from meetings, often very detailed. Every single day was crammed with business appointments. Sometimes the evenings too. In the summer of 1979, Dr Florence Haseltine, an obstetrician, had a cesarean section because she wanted to. She planned it that way even though there was no medical reason for the surgery. No one else on staff thought it was a good idea. But Haseltine decided she wanted to have a baby, not a delivery. She had seen plenty of women in labor to know what she was in for had she gone the vaginal route; When Haseltine was pregnant in the 1970s, women were Lamaze-breathing their babies out while husbands coached on the sidelines.

In the you-go-girl atmosphere of Our Bodies Ourselves and Title IX, it was the odd woman who asked for more technology and who wanted more men around. Haseltine does not consider drug-free, technology-free births an extension of women's rights. Quite the contrary. Feminism, for her, means acquiring sufficient information to understand the medical choices and demand the one that suits you. Insisting on analyzing and figuring out his motivations can be a source of perpetual suffering. The only way to move on and be free of the torment is to start asking new questions: How do I want to spend my time? What makes me happy? Where can I go from here? Questions about yourself and what you want are the only ones that you can answer. Carlotta's Aha: She realized she was thinking more about Bill and Allyson than she was about herself and her daughter. She wasn't going to let a man leaving her be the defining moment in her life. Asking questions to advance her own life, instead of trying to figure out why Bill did what he did, helped her move on. Jill always enjoyed going to her hairstylist, Gina. She got to gossip, read magazines, and relax while Gina worked her magic. You know when you just have that feeling that you're going to be successful? Yup, that was me. I had it in the bag. I just knew it. While I hadn't specifically told people I was going to the conference, I was openly sharing that I would be spending a week in the hosting city amidst my travel adventures. These are the concepts I believe in and share with others.

This is exactly what I was doing. Then, finally, I received a voicemail from the head of the selection panel, asking me to call her back about my application. It was time - I would finally have confirmation that I had been accepted and would be able to confirm my travel plans and article my flights. I found a small empty room and hit redial. He remembered back to those times . It was for the love of his family that he'd chased success so hard. The old man was drawn to an entry much shorter than the rest. In his own neat handwriting were these words, `Wasted a whole day fishing with Jimmy. Didn't catch a thing! With a deep sigh and a shaking hand he took Jimmy's journal and found the boy's entry for the same day, June 4th. Large scrawling letters pressed deep into the paper read, `Went fishing with my dad. Like every other author, I'm vulnerable to `kleptomnesia' - accidentally remembering the ideas of others as your own. So here we are. Me and thee, at Part 4 of the trilogy, playing out a gag that Douglas Adams originated and I'm borrowing. A few of her colleagues remember quite clearly when Haseltine asked for her C-section. They said that her decision was unusual for the time but not for Haseltine, a savvy woman never swayed by popular opinion. You get pregnant to have a child, not to have a delivery, Haseltine said. I could not understand everyone's angst over my C-section. The baby was cooked. Get her out.

My husband thought it was fine. He was furious with the people who were against it. She said she felt safer with a surgical delivery, avoiding the complications of vaginal births, such as tears and hemorrhage. Thinking about the tiny yet swelling group of women nowadays who request C-sections for no reason other than that's what they want, you have to wonder whether Haseltine was ahead of her time or a harbinger of bad things to come. One summer afternoon, Jill showed up to see that Gina's wavy hair was pin-straight. When she asked about her new look, Gina explained that it was part of an elaborate plan to win back her husband, Clayton, even though he had announced that he was gay. Gina caught Jill up on everything that had happened, and then explained that a deep conditioning treatment and blowout were part one of her seduction plan. Part two was taking a client's suggestion to buy maternity lingerie. Not surprisingly, neither of these approaches made a difference. Even though he told me that he was gay, for a while I hoped he was just confused, Gina says now. He may have been both of those things, but more than that--he was into guys, and that wasn't going to change. Gina couldn't compete with the new WBR. I needed to accept that the romantic part of our relationship was over, but it was so hard, Gina said. It's crazy, but even though he packed up and moved in with Gary, I still loved him and wished things could be back to the way they were. The usual telephone etiquette ensued, and then this: Shade, thank you for calling me back. That was not what I had planned for. That was not what was meant to happen. I felt a sense of mild nausea erupt from deep in my lower abdomen. For the first time in a while, I didn't know how to respond.

My immediate reaction was simply to utter, `Oh. How did I get this so wrong? How did I mislead myself to such an extent that I was convinced that I'd be accepted? Still holding the phone to my ear, I paced the small room. There is plenty of original thought in this article but, admittedly, some of the ideas have been lifted. Bizarrely, some of them are borrowed off me. Can you steal from yourself? Anyhow, I have. From an earlier version of me who was full of enthusiasm but didn't know what he knows now. The whole article has been breadcrumbs, designed to lure you this far. This is where the breadcrumbs stop and you become the opposite of Micky Flanagan. Things are about to turn ugly. Someone's taking the piano man outside to mess with his fingers and make sure he never tinkles those ivories again. While he sips soup through a straw, it's time for a gender change, an uptown girl, Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Today the cesarean section is the most common operation in America among women of reproductive age. Hysterectomies come in second. In 2005, nearly one in three babies were born surgically, a record high. When Haseltine gave birth in 1979, about 15 percent of babies born in the United States came out via C-section, and doctors called that an epidemic. Most women do not have Haseltine's medical know-how, nor have they had the opportunity to watch several vaginal deliveries and several C-sections to know exactly what they are getting themselves into. Most women are not demanding C-sections just because they want them.

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