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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Episode 96 (Epilogue): Cut, Stapled and Mended

Birth in the News:

Professional Golfer Gives Up Lead to Watch Birth of Baby 

Canada's First Male Midwife

In this week's Conversation, we welcomed back bestselling author Roanna Rosewood to discuss her memoir Cut, Stapled and Mended: When One Woman Reclaimed her Body and Gave Birth On Her Own Terms After Cesarean. She discussed feeling compelled to write the book after hearing a constantly judgmental conversation surrounding birth. She discussed the need for women to seek childbirth education and said that we don't spend nearly enough time thinking about birth--and when we do, we're thinking about the wrong things. We need to "peel back the layers and think about what we're thinking and how we're feeling and what's going on with our bodies." When asked about the feeling of separation after her first cesarean, Roanna gave our listeners a reading from Cut, Stapled, and Mended:

"At 5:04 am, I hear my baby's cry. I am a mother. I have a baby. 'It's a boy,' they say, lifting him in front of my eyes. I see as exquisite face covered in white vernix and blood with a head full of thick black hair. He is big and beautiful and he is my son. In a blink, he is gone. They take him ten feet to my right. He is screaming with all of his might. I strain to see him but cannot. He is surrounded by uniformed ones.

Why don't they give him to me? What is wrong? Every instinct in my body demands that I get up and go to him. I can't. I'm tied down. My womb is sitting outside of my body. Drying vomit tickles my cheek. 

They continue working on me, removing the placenta, throwing it and the cord away: pieces of me I had planned to bury in the ground and plant a tree over. It doesn't matter now. My baby needs help. Can't they hear him calling me? Please help my baby. Oblivious, to his loud wails and my silent prayers, they blather on: 'Very vigorous, Apgar nine, seven pounds, eleven ounces...'

Nine is a good Apgar. Why are they ignoring his screams? Why won't they give him to me?

Leaving me, Ben goes to our baby. Papa speaks. Our son stops screaming, recognizing his father's voice from the beginning of time. It is the only familiar element in this new, loud, bright, and waterless world. They look into each other's eyes, seeing each other for the first time. I am relieved that my baby is comforted. I am a mom, byt not really. It's been he sees, ben he bbonds with. I watch Ben's back.

When the uniforms finally finish with my son, Ben carries him to me. He is fresh and clean. All traces of birth--all traces of me--have been wiped from his body. He is beautiful: a present all wrapped up with a cotton cap covering his thick black hair. Or did I just imagine hair? Ben sits next to me, holding him. A uniform releases one of my arms from its cuff. I start to reach out and touch my baby--but my arm won't work. The drugs have rendered my hand too heavy to lift. I watch Ben caress him.

Later, in recovery, the room is dimly lit and warm. The white gowns finally leave. I lie motionless, my arms still unresponsive. Unable to hold my baby, my body shaking uncontrollably, I succumb to sleep. Mom and Laureen help my baby nurse. They hold him in position close to my heart, using my body to provide nourishment to my son, connecting him to what is left of me."

We then talked about the myriad of alternative therapies Roanna underwent between and during her pregnancies to achieve the VBAC she desired, as well as a very important trip to Hawaii that resulted in an unexpected act of self-discovery. 

When asked why she decided to affect change in birth through such a personal outlet, Roanna answered, "Because sterilizing birth doesn't work. That's what we've done is we've tried to sterilize it, we've tried to make it black or white. And when we do that, we're not really speaking the truth."

Finally, Roanna shared her work with the Human Rights in Childbirth organization. "A doctor or a midwife has no more business telling a woman what position to assume to give birth in than she has a right to dictate the position of their next bowel movement. This idea that anybody other than a woman should be making these decisions, and that their job is anything other than supporting a woman unless there is a true emergency, is crazy. It's so crazy that people have accepted that, and Human Rights in Childbirth is changing that. I'm so excited to be part of this movement."

Roanna shared an opportunity for our listeners who would like to buy her book--they can now do so and receive a smorgasbord of gifts from supportive birth workers nationwide.

* You're invited to join The Maternally Yours Collective this Sunday at Station 400 for Books over Brunch. We'll discuss Cut, Stapled and Mended and share your thoughts on the book with its author, Roanna Rosewood, as well.

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