I first heard of Roanna Rosewood one afternoon while listening to an interview with her on Birth Plan Radio. Honestly, I don’t even remember the topic of the show (I am the worst at recalling details, even of important, impressive things), but I do remember being captivated by this woman. I learned that she had just written a book, “Cut Stapled, and Mended,” (book to be released any day!) and so I headed over to her website to learn more.
When I got to her website, I poked around. I found this:
I was stunned to silence. I do not call that speaking, I call that poetry in motion. Roanna participated on a panel of birthing women at The Summit. When her turn came to speak, she excused herself from behind the table and stood front and center. The words that poured from her mouth slammed each of us back into our seats. My breath caught in the back of my throat, and my heart pounded in angry rhythm as though readying itself for a primal dance. The beat of her words spoke a sacred language understood by each woman in the room. We honored her experience because it was our collective experience. Her voice carried the emotion of entire generations of women who had been violated and who will be violated through obstetric routine and violence.
She turned to sit down as abruptly as she had approached the floor, and I think I exhaled audibly. The way one does when the amusement park Tilt-a-Whirl comes to an abrupt stop and you’re shifted suddenly back to the present reality. I looked down at my computer, waiting for my frozen fingers to say something, and all I could muster was, “Roanna Rosewood could rock this revolution, singlehandedly, I swear.”
Her book, a memoir detailing her journey from c-section to c-section to VBAC, is such a captivating read. Truly, one of the most compelling memoirs I’ve read. It was fun and often amusing to watch the battle between her rational, left-brained self and her untapped, well-wrapped feminine. Roanna and her husband are successful restauranteurs, and if you’re a foodie, you’ll also enjoy a few well-placed recipes, including French Onion and Placenta Soup (oh, yeah!).
The thing that sets this memoir apart from other birth-y books (besides placenta recipes), is its strong feminist bent, its solid voice calling out systemic problems. Her uncompromising detailing of her deep pain and struggle within that birthing System and the challenges that accompany the confinement within a non-evidence based, paternalistic model of care cuts through the simple yet lost art of story telling.
Like, here, where she explains her internal frustration over others’ reactions to her planned VBAC (“Is it safe…” and “As long as the doctor says it’s okay….”):
“This response infuriates me. Why is my opinion irrelevant? Doctors may be experts on birth, but I’m the expert of my body. I’m the one who will go through birth. I’m the one whose life and whose baby’s life are on the line.” (63)
It would be so much easier if I could stop thinking and questioning, if I could simply accept and believe, if I could learn to “baaaa.” (64)
She also has a voice that many who have experienced a cesarean will be able to relate to. She speaks the deeply painful and honest language rarely spoken aloud:
“At least you and the baby are healthy,” friends and family say. I lift the corners of my mouth in silent submission, ignoring my heart’s protest: Birth is not an accident, to be celebrated when you make it through alive. Birth is a rite of passage.There was something I was supposed to do. I am not strong enough to bring life into this world, not good enough. I am unworthy of procreation. Incomplete. An actor playing the role of a woman.” (88)
The content of this book contains the potential of being really, really heavy. But in Roanna’s ability to make fun of herself and those around her, she gifts her readers with a very well-balanced sea saw between sorrow and joy; anger and hilarity. Throughout the book, I am on this unfiltered ride through Roanna’s thoughts.
Never is this more fun than when she’s laboring with her third baby, her triumphant VBAC. Internally screaming “Incompetent fools,” when her midwife and husband can’t find all of the tub parts, and detailing her shock over her own poop and then the strange realization that, “If this tub were full of nothing but shit mud, I would still stay right here,” had me laughing uncontrollably at the counter of the Food Co-op where I was eating my lunch and reading. Anyone who has birthed a baby will appreciate her raw humor over a woman’s primal rage and bodily functions amidst the other-worldly experience that is labor.
I can not give this book enough props. So instead, I’ll do a giveaway!! Roanna has graciously offered one free copy to a Birth Anarchy reader. You may enter the drawing up to two times. The drawing will be held in one week. Here’s what you need to do:
- Enter once by “liking” Birth Anarchy AND Roanna Rosewood on facebook. Comment once to let me know you’ve done this.
- Enter again by sharing this article on social media. Leave a separate comment telling me you’ve done so.