After undergoing two Cesarean sections, Ashland business owner Roanna Rosewood was determined to give birth naturally when she became pregnant with her third child.
She chronicled her grueling journey to achieve vaginal birth after C-section — also known VBAC — in the book "Cut, Stapled, & Mended: When One Woman Reclaimed Her Body and Gave Birth on Her Own Terms After Cesarean."
The co-owner of Pangea café in downtown Ashland and now the operations director for the international Human Rights in Childbirth organization, Rosewood said she never intended to become an author.
"I felt compelled to capture the experience. The only way I could do that was through writing," Rosewood said.
During her first pregnancy, she had planned to deliver vaginally. But several days passed after her water broke with no sign of a baby, putting the infant at risk of infection.
Although Rosewood endured labor and two nights without sleep, the baby went into distress when she was not fully dilated, triggering a C-section.
"There is pulling, yanking hard, and pressure in the chest of the body that I used to be inside of. It can't breathe," Rosewood wrote in the book. "The pulling, they are pulling the insides of the body out, cutting and yanking. There is classical music playing. The body vomits, thin greenish fluid dripping down the side of its cheek. Its cuffed hand cannot wipe it away."
After the operation, Rosewood had to watch as other people held and cared for her newborn son. Memories of the C-section haunted her dreams, but her worst feeling was that she was not a real woman and didn't deserve to have a baby.
"Logically, I conclude that because a cesarean broke me, a 'real birth' will fix me," she wrote. "I harness all of the anger, tears, and shame into one sole purpose: VBAC."
Discouraged by her doctor from attempting VBAC, Rosewood visited a stream of alternative practitioners who tried to help her via acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, homeopathy, magnets, rapid eye movement, herbs and other treatments.
For her second pregnancy, Rosewood attempted to give birth at home with midwives, but after a day-and-a-half of labor, they recommended she go to a hospital. There, she again underwent a C-section and later learned the prolonged labor tore a hole in her uterus.
"If science hadn't intervened, I would be dead," she wrote.
Resigned, Rosewood tried to put the two C-sections in the past — until she became pregnant with her third child.
Against medical advice, she decided to try water birth at home with a midwife and assistant midwife.
In the tub, she screamed in pain from the contractions while a hypno-birthing CD in the background uselessly urged her to unfold like a rose and let the baby slip out.
Rosewood wrote she felt like she was in a torturous stretching machine, with a wrecking ball ramming into her bones, breaking her pelvis apart. But as the baby emerged, she felt a wave of pleasure.
The experience changed her view that vaginal childbirth, being natural, would be easy.
"I have exactly what I wished for and dreamed of, the greatest and most fought-for accomplishment of my life. But I find myself traumatized by it. I had no idea it would be so violent," she wrote.
While before she felt herself to be a victim of the medical establishment, she wrote that after vaginal birth she understood life and death for the first time — and that individual bodies are completely unimportant compared to the violent, primal forces of nature.