The above photo is Rudabeh and her Husband Zal on their wedding day. Rudabeh and Zal are both characters in the Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings by Ferdowsi. You’d be hard pressed to find an Iranian or anyone intimately familiar with Persian culture who doesn’t know about the Shahnameh. If this was the SAT the statement may read, “The Illiad and the Odyssey are to ancient Greece, as the Shahnameh is to the Persian Empire”. It is perfectly fitting that we’re talking about this incredible woman today because TODAY, March 20, 2019 is the first day of Spring, which also means it’s Nowruz, Persian New Year. There isn’t a bigger holiday on the Iranian calendar. Nowruz is a non religious celebration of Spring that is not only celebrated in Iran but other neighboring countries as well.
My husband is Iranian and the celebrations of Nowruz are something we embrace in our house. We do this to remind our children of their incredible heritage. What kid wouldn’t want to celebrate Nowruz in addition to Easter?!
Now back to Rudabeh. The love story of Rudabeh and Zal is somewhat of a Romeo and Juliet with obstacles faced in parental approval and a twist of Rapunzel where, at one point, she lets her hair down for him to climb to her chambers. It’s not as salacious as it sounds, though as Ferdowsi is quick to remind readers that they “remained chaste”.
Rudabeh and Zal end up happily marrying and Rudabeh became pregnant with a child. However during her labor, complications arose. Instead of a traditional birth, a suggestion is made by the Simorgh (a magical bird that watched over and raised Zal as a child), that Rudabeh would require a “skilled mage ready with a sharp dagger…(to) slice open her side and deliver the baby”.
I like to picture Rudabeh here going, “Excuse me?”
C-sections weren’t around then to my knowledge, and this sure seemed crazy to those involved. “Those involved” *ahem* midwives *ahem* followed the instructions to a T and Rudabeh succesfully delivered a son she called Rostam. AND AND AND Rostam goes on to become the great Hero of the Shahnameh.
I feel like this birth story alone makes Rudabeh an incredibly brave woman. Ironically in society today there are those out there who would make you think or feel that having a C-section somehow means you failed at giving birth or that it’s somehow lesser or not as “Badass”. Now personally I happen to find it pretty badass that a woman who is 9+ months is willing to have MAJOR SURGERY to bring her child into this world, even at a stage when getting yourself out of bed to pee in the middle of the night seems like an insurmountable task. SO, if you’ve had a C-section or know someone who has, remind them today that they’re about as Badass as it gets. And if there’s any doubt, remind them that in the Shahnameh the Hero of Heroes was born exactly that way.
I harp on this all the time because it’s true: It’s how you love your child that makes you a parent. Not how your child ended up in your care (or if they were breastfed or whatever else people like to throw out there).
You got this Mama