The Red Tent of My Heart
(May Contain Spoilers)
I read the Red Tent, by Anita Diamant, when I was in nurse midwifery school. It was was an assigned book for the last class I took before I switched programs. I went tent camping with my husband and three children and threw it in my bag so I could keep up in class. Once I started reading it I could not stop. I was swept up into Dinah’s life. Sitting in woods, by a fire I read about the lives of women. I recognized the women from long ago in myself, my sisters, mother, daughter and friends. It may have been the romanticism of reading the story while living in a tent, but I fell madly in love with it. I was already infatuated with midwifery and birth. The way that Diamant described the interactions between women, birth and death struck me to the core. Although I did not pursue the midwifery path, I still feel the burn of the call. I get a glimpse of it from time to time in the hospital. Women supporting each other in the most intimate way while walking the line between death and birth. Although birth has become safer in many ways, birth attendants still feel and fear death lurking in the corners of every delivery room. I believe that is why a lot of well meaning over medicalization has occurred. Not all of it, but a lot. The novel did a wonderful job capturing the beauty and struggle of a guiding women through childbirth.
I was giddy when I fount that the novel was being made into a mini series. Lifetime did a decent job telling the plot of Dinah’s life. They were’t able to capture the beauty of birth and midwifery as well as the novel. The relationships between the women were recognized fully in the last few minutes, but were not given as much development as in the book.
I have recommended this book, over the years, to everyone that has the look of wonder in their eyes. I recognize the look right away. It is a look that belongs to a person that is in complete awe of birth and the power of women. I am not the only woman that loves this story. Red Tent communities have popped up all over social media and in real life. Women crave the type of connections found in the red tent. Many of us have few, if any, sisters, move far from our mothers, do not get along with our mother-in-laws and do not make time for our girlfriends. Twenty-first century life can feel so isolating. Births continue to bind us together. I step into a stranger’s room and become a friend/sister/mother within moments.
The bond of women during the sacredness of birth is strong. The trust they give me is an honor. Like Dinah, I will carry all the special women from my life with me. There is not a red tent for us to take refuge. I will carry my red tent in my heart. With it I will create the safe and beautiful places for my sisters to bring their babies into the world.
If you enjoyed the miniseries, read the novel. You will laugh and cry and love all the things Dinah loves.
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