Fatherhood at Fifty – Fighting Words

It’s been a little quiet around this blog for the last month. That seems to happen pretty regularly in November. Often times that has happened in November because I tell myself the story that I’m too busy or because I’m a bit too overwhelmed or because I just can’t think of anything to write about. In fact I even wrote a tongue-in-cheek open letter to the month of November a couple of years back asking for dispensation in future years. You can link to the November 2015 archives on the right side widget of this blog if you want to read it. It’s old energy to me now so I’m not going to recap it on my own.

unnamed-18Interestingly though, none of the aforementioned things have been the cause of this year’s November writing sabbatical. Personally I’ve felt fabulous during the month of November this year. There have been so many classic fall days. I’ve refrained from sugar and alcohol for over a month. I’m eating vegetarian. I’ve lost weight. I’ve felt mentally sharp. Just yesterday though,  I came to the awareness that there has been one very simple reason why I haven’t been writing humorous and positive-minded posts about our journey towards parenthood over the last month. I just couldn’t find the heart to be writing about how great things were going for me when my wife Christiana was struggling so mightily.

On Thanksgiving night, after summoning every ounce of energy she could find to make it through the holiday festivities even though she was carrying the weight of an unbearable amount of sadness, Christiana made the decision to come forward and speak about her recent challenges. It came in the form of a Facebook post at 11:00 pm as I lie next to her sleeping on the couch. If you are not a friend on Facebook or didn’t get a chance to read her words send me an email or comment on this blog and I will send them to you. They are her words and her story and she is a far better writer than I. They should most definitely be read in the first person.

With that little back story it’s time for me to move on to the main topic of this post and explain why I titled it Fighting WordsOver the past few years I have become increasingly aware of the fact that the words we choose to use significantly impact our human experience. It’s no secret that I live in a Universe where I fully believe that our thoughts become our reality and our beliefs shape our thoughts. It’s only a small step further down the path of intention to accept the Truth that our words are a verbal representation of our internal beliefs system, therefore just as surely as thoughts become things, our words become things as well. I’d recommend we choose our words carefully and wisely!

As Christiana began to process that fact that her glucose tolerance tests did not meet the preferred standard, we were faced with the assessment that medical professionals and midwives have a label to use to describe her current situation – gestational diabetes. After some research and careful reflection we have decided that we have the power to render this an non-factor in the duration of her pregnancy and in our choice to pursue a natural childbirth.

Now let me write that sentence another way….

When Christiana failed not only her first blood test, but also the more extensive four hour test, she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This will mean substantial changes in our lifestyle as we fight this disease. We can only hope that we are lucky enough that it doesn’t get out of control forcing her to go on insulin. We don’t want to have to abandon our plan to have a non-medical delivery.

Obviously I don’t have to ask you which sentence is more empowering and which one is fear-based. Choosing fear-based words can be paralyzing. In no way do I mean to make light of any health situation that either my wife or anybody else is managing. I only point out that the words we choose and the stories we create in our own minds go a long way to create the reality that we live in. I’m so grateful and blessed to have so many mentors who have helped me find the path to a more positive mindset and word choice.

Later this weekend I was talking to my friend Emily who has been living with Multiple Sclerosis for 36 years and has a fabulous, balanced life. Emily has dedicated her life to managing her wellness. She is an athlete, a speaker, an amazingly caring friend and an inspiration to all who know her. That being said, for years Emily used the words fighting and disease and those words carried an energetic weight, even with her generally positive outlook on life. That is until she shifted her mindset and her word choice and started using words like living with and current situation. In that frame of reference Emily eventually was able to come to a place where she has started speaking about how grateful she is to be managing MS, because it has made her who she is today, that fabulous, healthy and caring person. Again I will say that I do not intend to make light of anything anybody else is managing in their own lives or the words the choose to use. I only urge everybody to try to create a different dialogue and see what shifts might follow.

Of the many things that made Christiana sad over the last month, one of the most challenging things was her fear of being labeled. When someone is given a diagnosis, there is a tendency to step right up and start wearing that label like a heavy cloak. Will all my future pregnancies be labeled as GD? Will I be considered high risk now? Will my friends and family start looking at me differently if I choose to eat a donut?

Then like a gift from the Divine we attended our second natural childbirth class, just as we were processing the information of Christians’s blood glucose test not coming in at the preferred level. In that class our master teacher Tanya spoke about something we have both known and accepted for years. We just needed to be reminded. Here it is:

The only thing we have complete and total control over is our internal circumstances and our reaction to external circumstances. When we try to control external circumstances we can drive ourselves quickly down a path of frustration.

Blood glucose levels are an external circumstance. My high blood pressure is an external circumstance. We can make choices that affect those numbers and refrain from reacting with fear, but in the end it is an external circumstance that we can choose to either fight or to manage. While there may be nothing inherently wrong with choosing the word fight if it carries the energy of putting forth one’s best effort or forming a visualization of persevering in times of need, too often the word fight carries the weight of angst, fear and insurmountable odds.

Look no further than our current day news headlines to see how often the word fight is used to create division, where humanity would be far better served to choose a new dialogue and invest the needed effort to heal, unite and manage.

When our daughter is born in 11 short weeks I will be sure to help Christiana in every way possible to choose the thoughts and words needed to make the birthing process as seamless as possible, but in reality she has already done the work. She’s been studying this hero’s journey for years. She’s followed her powerful intuition to choose the right support team. She’s built the foundation of thought that will help her maintain a positive mindset. She is without a doubt the strongest and the wisest person I have ever known and even when she is working her way through a period of contrast, she already recognizes the hidden gifts within the story. And oh what a story it will be! Our Divine little blessing already speaks to us in so many ways….and her words are always absolutely perfect!

 

 

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About Jim Herbert

I've been wanting to write my whole life. By age 45 it had amounted to nothing more than a storage locker of half full journals and a lot of unfulfilled dreams. Then Paris in the fall of 2011 happened. It was the catalyst I needed to consistently blog. At first I had a hard time hitting the publish button, but now two blog sites and over 300 posts later I'm hitting my stride. I'm also a budding speech writer. I've recently been heavily involved in the Chicago Storytelling scene and have also won the Chicago Toastmasters Area 66 International Speech Contest. Check out our website at www.emergingintojoy.com for more details about the amazing things that are happening in my life. A book or two are nearing completion. With another Paris trip on tap for Easter of 2015 I can only imagine that there are Infinite Possibilities on the horizon!!!
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3 Responses to Fatherhood at Fifty – Fighting Words

  1. Merle Cohen says:

    Jim, Just wanted you to know Seymour and I love you both and pray for Christiana’s good health. Just so you know I developed that problem when I was pregnant with both kids. Christiana will be fine. I hate writing this but Aaron is coming in this weekend late Friday night. I will not be able to come to the shower. Seymour is not doing great so the three of us need to sit down and talk things over. Lots of things that Seymour Used to take care of need our attention now. Because Aaron is in Berkeley And working we need to take care of these things when he comes in. Lisa Is going with Zach away for about ten days. When they both return on Xmas Eve we have to have everything done before Xmas. I have everything sitting in front of me for Baby 🍼 Herbert’s shower I Will try to get it to the restaurant for you both when I can. I will call Carrie today or tomorrow. I am so sorry but the shower will turn into Christmas 🎁 presents this year. Our thoughts are with you both hopefully can see you for dinner just the three of us, I miss you and love ❤️ you both so much. Fondly Merle

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. Beautifully said Jim. As one who has managed several interesting and challenging diagnoses, most recently Celiac Disease, I’ve also learned to frame my own words so as not to give power away. I need my power to work with my “external” issues. So I always choose words to discuss Fibromyalgia and Celiac Disease that keep it in its place and don’t allow these condiditons to define me. I learned this inadvertently from my mother who had rheumatoid arthritis since age 21. She would describe herself as “an arthritic” which always gave me the willies. I felt that she gave her power away every time I heard it and swore I’d never allow myself to give that much power away. That’s not to say it hasn’t been challenging at times, but I continue to affirm that I am not the condition and the condition does not define me. It’s simply something that I manage in my life like I manage other things. Bob and I hold you, Christiane, and the little bun in our hearts. All is well.

  3. morrisonarts says:

    Jim and Christiana, so much love to you both. You’ve got this. Eleven weeks will pass like a dream.
    I had three babies with no drugs and can offer this: pay attention in the breathing classes. Labor was the most intense thing I’ve ever been through, totally engulfing. While I wanted to be heroic, I had to surrender to the sensations and allow my husband to be the hero when I felt on the edge of control. He had to be downright strict with me, FOCUS. BREATHE WITH ME. He’s a sweet guy and the nurse had to show him how, on the spot. It worked.
    I had some hypnosis prior to baby #2, really think it helped.
    Miraculous, all of it.
    You’ve got this.

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