Sunday, June 5, 2011

WM #8 - Pain leads to wisdom

My daughter just gave birth to my first grand child - Gavyn Lochlan. I had promised myself that when I started this blog that I would write weekly to ensure a sense of flow and responsibility to any readers. But life gets in the way and especially when you have kids - priorities lie with them. I was in the delivery room when my daughter gave birth to Gavyn and it was probably one of the most difficult experiences of my life. To be so helpless during a time of untold pain and excitement of childbirth. While my daughter had an epidural to alleviate the significant pain of the child birth (a medical miracle and we should all revere this procedure developed by John Bonica, MD the founding father of Pain Management!), she had been in labor for 18+ hours and was exhausted. All I wanted to do was take over this burden for her. As a mother who is both nurturing and authoritative - I often take over and this one instance I was completely helpless. While I could wipe her brow and give her encouraging words I was still helpless to her child-birth struggles. It was agony.

I realized after what seemed like a decade of pushing (probably only about 30 minutes) that I was NOT helping her. She needed someone to come in and take over a more objective and less invested role to coach her through these last few contractions to get this baby out! I was too nurturing with every cell in my body screaming "I'll take over!" It was time for a more "Quit your whining and get this baby OUT!" approach. My US Navy Chief husband is good at that but he wasn't there to take over (although I think he might have been traumatized watching his little girl push a baby OUT of her ... well you know).

I leaned close to her prior to next push and said, "Kels, I'm going to have the nurse come in and help you." At this point, I think she didn't really care who was there but I knew this was going to be hard for her to get over if I didn't tell her exactly what I was doing. I motioned for one of the other nurses to replace me at my daughter's bed side to encourage her through the next contraction. Her boyfriend was on her right side doing a phenomenal job of not trying to push and breath with her like I was. My empathy was at an all-time high and it was time to back off for the sake of my daughter's pleading, scared eyes. I know what you must be thinking: "How could you just leave her!?" Well I was doing more harm than good. Because as a mom I bring popsicles home during a bad case of the flu, lie on the bed after a nightmare, or come charging to the rescue after a minor fender bender; this was the one time I couldn't really help.

How often do we put outselves into a position of taking over when we really shouldn't. When instead we should and MUST step back and let others work through the pain. As parents we are programmed to pick up and comfort our kids after a semi-serious bicycle accident or a fall off the teeter totter but there will be moments when help is a hinderance, when they have to learn that we won't be there all the time to dust them off and kiss their pain away. This particular situation of my daughters first child birth experience may seem extreme as an example of management but it holds true for many of those "micromanagers" out there (and you KNOW who you are!) who feel they need to do EVERYTHING much to the chagrin of their subordinates! WE CANNOT GROW UNLESS WE EXPERIENCE PAIN!

Someone wrote or said, "Wisdom is nothing more than healed pain." And maybe that is why we try to take over when someone is trying to work out a problem or make a tough presentation that we authoritative and "can-do" managers accomplish in a manner of minutes because we know from past experiences the 'best' way to do things (ya right!). But what do others learn from us taking over and how do they grow if we don't allow them to experience some pain? Nothing except we'll take over - running ourselves ragged, running out of time to get our own work done, and resenting them in the end! So next time you get the urge to "push" for your subordinates in getting something done - don't! Let them experience and learn from the pain!

This blog is dedicated to my beautiful daughter Kelsey and her new baby boy!

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