When I brought Roanna Rosewood a home-cooked meal after the birth of her third baby, I barely knew her. Our children went to preschool together and I saw Roanna in passing in the rush at drop off in the mornings. But I knew how much it meant to me when people–good friends and some almost strangers–brought us food, and I knew how hard it was to juggle three small children. So I asked Roanna if I could be part of her meal train.
She was sitting on the couch crosslegged, her tiny baby in her arms, looking happy and peaceful and tired. I don’t remember how many days old her daughter was, I just remember that she was so impossibly small and so beautiful.
Roanna told me that Dalia had been born at home.
Since so many babies are born at home in our small town and since two of my three had been home births, I wasn’t particularly surprised.
But what I didn’t know is how much work it had taken to get Roanna on that couch, blissed out, her mom doing laundry, talking quietly to me, her husband at her side.
The way she describes it in her new memoir and the way I’ve heard her explain it since, Roanna’s first birth was a hospital transfer that was so aggressive and badly managed that it felt like obstetric violence. She had stalled in labor at home and needed some hydration. She went into the hospital thinking she’d be coming back to her house to birth on her own turf in her own way. Instead, her oldest son was born via an unwanted and unnecessary C-section.
The second time she got pregnant Roanna was determined to do it differently. She stayed home so long, stubbornly refusing to go to the hospital even after the midwives told her repeatedly that it really was time and that the baby wasn’t going to be born vaginally, that she almost ruptured her uterus.
That second C-section was done very gently, with great care, and literally–Roanna says–saved her life.
But she felt very strongly that she could and would have a vaginal birth. So when she got pregnant for a third time, she decided–damned it–she was going to try again. She secretly thought she would fail. She had already had two C-sections, her body felt broken, it seemed the only logical conclusion that she would have to have a third. But Roanna worked really hard during that pregnancy with her homebirth midwife (“our sessions were like therapy”) to conquer her fears about birth, to imagine herself birthing vaginally, and to work through her anger and other difficult emotions.
Dalia, dear sweet little Dalia who I remember as having a shock of black hair and tiny puckered lips, was successfully and safely born at home.
Roanna said something to me that I’ve never asked her about, but that I’ll never forget. “I didn’t think birth would be so violent,” she confessed. She worked really hard to get that baby out. It wasn’t easy. But it was one of the most empowering experiences of her life. It changed her body and her thinking in so many ways. When her daughter was born a new Roanna was born with her: a woman who would testify at the Hague, who would become a radio talk show host, who would counsel other women who have been scarred and scared by disappointing birth experiences.
And she would also become an author.
Eight years after Dalia’s birth, Roanna Rosewood has written a memoir about her experience called Cut, Stapled, and Mended.
The book is being born today, April 30, 2013 and women, including doctors, midwives, doulas, and other birth advocates from around the world, are helping to bring this baby gently into the world.
You know how you see a book and think, “Oh, yeah, I really want to read that some day,” but you don’t actually buy it? In order for this book to be born it has to be bought, read, and shared. So Roanna, who also owns a fantastic restaurant downtown and is one savvy businesswoman, has incentives. If you buy the book today, you get an amazing number of free gifts. I’m offering a teleconference “Nine Things You Need to Know Before You Have Your Next Baby,” for free as part of this push.
Here’s how it works: You visit Roanna’s web page, buy the book through a special link she has set up, and then you get to claim your gifts.
There’s a catch. You can’t dawdle. You can’t vaguely want to read the book someday (and if you’re reading this and have done that with my brand-new-just-born-last-week book, put it in your shopping cart along with Roanna’s, will you already?) but not order it.
You have to purchase the book today to claim the prices.
But what if you really really want to participate in my teleconference? There are still spaces available but it’s WAAY more expensive than buying the book. You can contact me for details.
I saw Dalia on Saturday. She was wearing a white sun dress with flowers on it. When she was three years old she told Roanna, “Mom, I’m not a girl, I’m a woman.” Roanna tells me that even now she holds her own with her big brothers. She likes frilly dresses and fancy shoes. And she likes to take charge. She’s the daughter Roanna wasn’t sure she’d ever be lucky enough to have. Born the way her mother always wanted.