Mara Sophia's Birth Story By Andrea Wagnon Print
Birth Stories - C-Section Birth Stories
Monday, 17 November 2008 11:15
      On January 31, 1997 at around 1:00 p.m. I started to have contractions, but didn't say anything to anyone because I thought they were the same old cramps with a twist. John and I were a little worried because we were 1 week over our due date and Mara still hadn't engaged her wee little head (!!). We had just gone to the midwife for yet another check-up and she seemed to be positive about the birth and Mara's health. She suggested going to do an ultrasound to find out if there was too much amniotic fluid (which would explain the floating business). The ultrasound provided us with the following information:

1. The fluid amount was normal.
2. The baby measured off of their scales (because she was post-term).
3. Their computer estimated our baby to be 11 lb. with a 15"+ head.
4. The baby is a girl.

      We were ecstatic about the baby being a girl! Now we had positive information about our baby and she is real to us. Mara Sophia. What a wonder!

      I wasn't that concerned about the baby being so big because my family typically births large children (anywhere from 9 to 11 lb.). What wasn't impressed on me was the size of the head. And the fact that the bones were already hardening, so compression was not going to be easy. When we talked to the doctor about the information, he was very careful to explain to us that the information was definitely skewed and that the error margin was fairly large. So, we left the ultrasound exam with light in our hearts and weight off of our shoulders.

      Later on that evening (Thursday), our midwife, Jean, called and discussed the ultrasound with us. She was obviously becoming nervous. She was concerned that the baby wouldn't engage and that we would have either cord prolapse (where the cord comes out first -- which is a DIRE emergency) or shoulder dystosia (where the shoulders are too wide and can't make it through the birth canal -- the baby gets 'stuck' and you risk breaking the collar bone or the baby dies). I still wasn't concerned about the baby being too big (keep in mind that they had not explained how large the head really was and that the bones were not going to mold well during delivery).

      The next day, Jean called and left us a message. She had made an appointment with her backup doctor, without conferring with us, for that afternoon. We decided to go ahead and go. She asked us to call her back and tell us what the doctor said.

      So, it's understandable that we were nervous and a little bit stressed. We made it to Dr. Arthur Gore's office (by barely because of the short notice). He did an examination (about 30 seconds long) and recommended a c-section. He said if we were to attempt a vaginal birth, he would highly recommend that it be attempted in the hospital. We were annoyed that he was going for the high-tech out and felt that our natural birth was being escalated into a full hospital pull-out-all-of-the-stops birth. We weren't pleased and we were feeling very pushed.

      Jean was really feeling nervous by the time we called her after our appointment. Apparently, I had been misinterpreting what the doctor and she meant by 'engaged', so that when I told her the doctor said the baby's head was 'engaged in the pelvis, but could be easily popped out' she said when she talked to him that that was definitely not the case. I was beginning to feel second-guessed by Jean. She then regretfully informed me that she would not be available for a birth that weekend. She had a backup midwife attending, whom she felt was more than qualified for our situation. Jean had prepared the backup for our case and felt that we would be in good hands. (Let me just say a couple more things about Jean -- she started to blame my body for the problems we were having with the pregnancy, such as: weak abdominal muscles that couldn't push the baby's head down and keep it in the pelvis [I could do belly rolls 3 days after the c-section], some kind of pelvic malformation that was obstructing the baby's head... etc. I started to feel really undermined by Jean. It wasn't a good feeling. Several times in the last 3 or 4 weeks of my pregnancy, she kept saying that she didn't think I was aware that giving birth was very painful and was concerned that I wouldn't be able to take it. This was the impression she got after a particularly painful exam that she gave. The pain was entirely unnecessary due to her incapacity for empathy. More to the point, she was very rough and unfeeling.) She then told me she wasn't feeling comfortable with delivering our baby because she'd delivered shoulder dystosia before, and the babies didn't turn out well. They lived, but they were damaged, either physically or mentally (which was contrary to our impressions of her skills based on her resume's personal statistics for a ttended births). She asked me if I thought I'd deliver that weekend, and I said that I had a feeling that I would.

      I was feeling pretty unsure about things. I finally admitted to John around 4:30 p.m. that I thought I was in labor. We timed the contractions, and sure enough, I was. We called Brie (Shari Moore) and told her it was time. She went home, got her bags and started over to Austin from Houston. Gretchen Welshofer was also invited to attend the birth, but was recently exposed to Strep throat, so we sadly decided that it would be best for her not to be there, just in case :(.

      I was worried about the house not being in order, so I called Laura Beck and asked her to come help John with straightening and last minute things here at the apartment. She was glad to be of help. John talked to the backup midwife (Karan Shirk) and was very pleased with her personality, style and philosophy. He felt very positive and confident about her, which was a relief to us all. Karan said she had delivered babies with shoulder dystosia and they had all turned out fine. She was very clear that she was there to attend our birth and to do what needed to be done to ensure that we had the birth we wanted.

      Brie arrived around 10:00 p.m. and Laura stayed to help out. By the time Brie arrived, I definitely in the first stage of labor. I used relaxation and was really 'blissed out' on all of the hormones (don't get me wrong, it hurt -- but the hormones made each contraction bearable and left me euphoric). I was really happy to be in labor! This was it! John and I rolled with the contractions until about 11:30 p.m. and then called in to the birthing center. Jean decided to let Karan take over from the get-go, so we met Karan at the center around midnight.

      Karan welcomed us with open arms and heart. She hugged me and said she was very honored to be there with me. We got set up and let labor progress. I walked the halls and Karan checked me periodically to see how everything was going. Around 3:00 a.m., my labor stalled. I was at 6 cm. and the contractions were nothing. John and I decided to try to get them going again by relaxing and concentrating for half of an hour. At 3:30 a.m., John and I talked to Karan and decided that the very real possibility of the cord coming through before the baby was too dangerous to allow for us to stay at the center any longer. We made ready to go to the hospital. Brie and Laura were in Brie's van, Karan was in her station wagon, and John and I were in the Tercel. About 1 mile down Mo-Pac (Loop 1), Karan's car got a flat! We all laughed and said this was the bad luck for the night and now everything was going to go smooth as silk.

      We arrived at the hospital at 4:00 a.m. They admitted me into a Labor & Delivery suite (it was very nice!). Dr. Gore decided that I needed to rest a bit before we went on to induce labor with pitocin to get the contractions going great-guns and hopefully engage the baby's head, and then, if need be, by breaking my waters. Around 7:00 a.m., suddenly, it was clear to me that I needed to talk to John alone. We discussed the possibilities and the probabilities. Then we brought Karan into the discussion. I was deeply concerned about the well-being of the baby. She said 'Well, a 15"-plus head is very large and you have every right to be concerned. Since the baby is post-term, her head isn't going to mold very well, so she'll have a migraine for a couple of weeks.' That was the first time I'd heard the measurement in English -- and it was the first time anyone had mentioned what would happen to the baby if we went through with a vaginal birth (besides the shoulder problems). Dr. Gore arrived at 7:30 a.m. and we had him tell us what was what. We finally decided that between the trauma that would happen to me and to the baby if we attempted a vaginal birth was not worth the risks. The probability of the birth ending in an emergency c-section was very high.

      So, with our friends Laura and Brie, as well as Dr. Gore and Karan, as our witnesses, John and I made our first big decision as parents to save our baby from very real pain and suffering by putting me through a voluntary c-section. I knew I could make it through my fear of surgery and the major recovery afterwards. I didn't think I could make it through the suffering of a newborn babe just so I could have a vaginal birth.

      The nurses prepared me for the c-section by telling me exactly what would happen. The anesthesiologist came in and interviewed me about my health history and answered all my questions regarding the epidural. I told the nurse that would be with me during the operation that I was deathly afraid of the epidural. She said she'd been through it twice and that she'd be there with me the whole time.

      They wheeled me into the c-section delivery room and I teased Dr. Gore about his beautiful African cap. I told him that if I didn't get to wear one, then I wasn't going to go through with it. He said 'There can be only one!' in a low-pitched voice, a la the movie "Highlander'. They got me all ready and the anesthesiologist, who was a bit cool at first in my room, was kind and gentle. They let me pick the radio station (Classical, but of course) and the nurse held me as I cried while the epidural was done.

      My body slowly became not my own. I joked with the anesthesiologist until he said he'd never had anyone that was so lively and wicked before! Karan and John came in after the epidural was done. John held my hand while a very near stranger, Dr. Gore, cut into my body and into my womb.

      As soon as the sac was cut, At 10:32 a.m. on February 1, 1997, Mara virtually leapt out of the womb. Her head and hand popped out before the doctor was ready for her. She was ready to be born! She let out a terrific wail as they cleaned her up. She was brought over to me and I held her for the very first time in my arms. She was absolutely perfect! A true marvel and miracle. John went with her to the nursery and Karan stayed with me as they sewed me up. Mara Sophia Wagnon weighed in at 9 lb. 11 oz., had a 15.5" crown, and was 21.5" long. And she charmed everyone she met.

      John, Mara, and I met in the recovery room. Mara nursed right away. God, but she was beautiful to me! And perfect, oh, so perfect. Later, when the pediatrician came to our room to check on her, he said,

   'She's a song. Just a song.'

      And she still is. At 5 weeks and 3 days, she weighed 11 lb. 10.25 oz., was 22.75" long, and had a 16.25" crown.