Book Review: Cut, Stapled, and Mended by Roanna Rosewood

The first chapter includes a sex scene, bodily possession, and a token reference to “a woman’s right to choose”. So I think it’s safe to say that Roanna Rosewood and I have very different philosophies of life.

The rest of this VBAC memoir confirmed that. From the beginning I was inclined to not like Rosewood very much. I felt somewhat heartened when she told the reader that though she’d been raised in the mystic spirituality of the hippy 60’s, she had considered it useless as an adult – but she quickly found that particular brand of spirituality again. Rosewood also has a antipathy towards doctors that transferred from her hippy heritage – one that I don’t share (I’m squarely in the Western medical establishment – I just believe that for the majority of cases, childbirth is not a medical event.) Furthermore, Rosewood has a complete lack of discernment regarding alternate practitioners.

The short of Rosewood’s story is that she intended to have a homebirth but didn’t prepare her body at all because childbirth is natural and why did she need to learn about it? Her waters broke to start labor, but then labor piddled around for days until her midwife insisted that she did indeed need to go to the hospital. There, she received a c-section. She felt great failure, didn’t bond with her baby, etc. etc. I felt like she set herself up for what she got.

Determined to have a home VBAC, Rosewood threw herself into physical preparation and childbirth education. She learned the stats and became one of those annoying VBAC proponents (yes, I say this with tongue in cheek). She actually learned about the stages of labor and management techniques this time around. She walked like her midwife encouraged her to so she could have some strength and stamina when labor rolled around. And she engaged in every quack therapy you can think of (and some you can’t think of).

Her second labor followed the first’s example, and she ended up with a second c-section. This one was better, because she knew what to expect and had done some things to prepare. She had skin to skin, got started breastfeeding more quickly, etc. But it was still failure.

She didn’t plan to get pregnant the third time, it was an accident born of “goddess sex”. And she didn’t plan on keeping the baby, she just kept putting off taking the Plan B her doctor had prescribed. What she did plan was a home birth, acting expressly against the policy of the OB she was also seeing, in case she needed to deliver in the hospital. This pregnancy actually seemed more medically risky – she bled clots early on and had various other scary signs – but this time she did some inner work in addition to the physical stuff. She discovered that she was a bitter woman who pushed other women away, that she had never learned how to relax and just be, etc. So she went on a voyage of emotional and relational discovery (including a “goddess week” in Hawaii). Then she had a successful home birth when her inner goddess pushed for her.

I don’t recommend this story. Rosewood is a flake. Both her methods and her beliefs are highly suspect.

Which doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a takeaway. The truth is, childbirth isn’t simply a physical thing. A woman’s mind and emotions do impact the progression of labor – and it’s important to not ignore that. Relationship with your labor support is important. Having a goal beyond “not failing again” is important.

That said, there are many differences between Rosewood’s sections and mine. I do not feel my c-section was a failure. It was not forced on me, I chose it. While Rosewood experienced a very difficult labor after premature rupture of membranes, I never went into labor. Rosewood’s initial experience of premature rupture of membranes followed by stop and go labor was repeated in each of her pregnancies. At present, I have never gone through labor and have no reason to expect that my labor should not proceed normally.

I will be preparing for my first labor and delivery, which just happens to be after a c-section. Rosewood was trying to correct what she’d done wrong in her first labor and delivery in order to avoid the undesirable outcome she had. It’s a very different experience – and one that causes us to have very different mindsets from the outset.

Rating: 1 star
Category: Childbirth memoir
Synopsis: Rosewood tries for a home VBAC twice – and learns that childbirth isn’t just physical.
Recommendation: I don’t recommend it.

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