A lucky pair of scissors

One of the luckier babies of 2012 was little Maddalena Douse of Lewes, East Sussex, England, who was born last summer at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton.Baby scissors

Maddalena was born at 23 weeks, and weighed only 382 grams, or about 13 1/2 ounces. According to a story in The Sun, a baby weighing less than a pound would not have been considered viable, and the hospital would not have been likely to use extraordinary measures to keep her alive.

However, at her first weigh-in, Maddalena wound up on the scale with a pair of scissors that went unnoticed. Their weight brought her up to that lucky pound. Only when she was already on a ventilator to help her breathe did the hospital staff discover the difference the scissors had made in her weight.

The little girl went home just before Christmas and "is expected to grow into a healthy child," according to the article.

“We never thought we’d ever bring Maddalena home,” said Kate Douse, Maddalena's mother, according to The Sun. “She now weighs 5½ [pounds] and is getting stronger by the day. She’s our little miracle and we’re so glad to have her home in time for Christmas.”

Maddalena had a twin, Isabella, who did not survive.

Birth in an MRI

Babies are born in all kinds of settings, but a 24-year-old woman in Berlin chose to have her third child in December of 2010 inside a magnetic resonance imaging device at the Charite University Hospital in the German capital.

Researchers at the hospital last month released a brief segment of the seven sequences of real-time images they made of the birth inside a specially constructed open MRI, shown in the photo below. The video accompanied the publication of their article about the event in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

A midwife, an obstetrician, a neonatologist and an anesthetist were in the magnet room while the MRI was on. The hospital's delivery unit was a short distance away on the same floor. Mom and baby left the hospital two days after participating in this historic birth.

The view of the baby's journey into the world from inside the birth canal will provide researchers with valuable insight into the mechanics of this amazing passage, the authors said.

Birth in an MRI

The mother was just shy of 38 weeks gestation, fully dilated and experiencing regular contractions. She received an epidural before entering the MRI, where she remained for less than an hour, according to the article.

One additional "study" was taken of the mother's body after birth, "to evaluate the third stage of labor with regard to placental separation and uterus involution," the authors wrote.

The researchers, all affiliated with Charite, were concerned about subjecting a brand-new baby to the loud noise of the machine without the "maternal soft tissue" padding, so they turned the MRI off just at birth.

Images Christian Bamberg / American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Pregnancy book births a movie

The recently released movie What To Expect When You're Expecting has plenty of stars (Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Chace Crawford, Elizabeth Banks) and a storyline chockablock with pregnancy and, eventually, birth.

Critics hated it but viewers gave it a somewhat warmer reception.

What to expect movie 2

Elizabeth Banks and Brooklyn Decker in What To Expect: The Movie

The mere fact a movie called What to Expect...  got made reflects the strength of the brand of the 28-year-old self-help book that inspired it, What to Expect When You're Expecting.

And it is an awesome brand. WTE is in its fourth edition, with more than 15 million books in print.

The author of What to Expect When You're Expecting, Heidi Murkoff, wrote the first edition of the book with her late mother, Arlene Eisenberg, and her sister Sandee Hathaway, who is no longer involved with the series. Sharon Mazel co-authored the fourth edition.

The WTE franchise also includes books on babies and toddlers, plus a baby-sitter's handbook.

The WTE website now has a page about the movie, including the stars' thoughts about the book. It has all come full circle, which gets to be a little dizzying, if you ask me.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother's Day seems like a good time to make a resolution to get back into more regular posting on Birth Story. So let it begin!

With Nora on the couch

With Nora on the couch

This is a picture of my daughter Nora, who is now 24, during her first few days home, relaxing on the couch with me. I don't know why she is sitting at the other end of the couch, but this is my husband's favorite early picture of us together.

Being a mom changed my life in big ways and small. I remember how disoriented I felt that first week, adjusting to nursing and my post-pregnancy body. My daughters, Nora and Maeve, are two of my favorite people, and Mother's Day is one of my favorite days in the whole year.

Happy Mother's Day to all the other moms (and everyone else) reading this post today. Have a wonderful day!

Bella Swan’s birth story

The birth in Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I was not as scary as I thought it would be. (If you don't want to read about the film's ending, stop reading here.) Breaking Dawn is a preteen fantasy through and through, so the birth of Bella's half-human, half-vampire baby winds up looking fairly tidy and vaguely menstrual, even if it does involve blades and teeth. (No trial of labor for Bella.)

Bella Swan

Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan

Will Breaking Dawn leave a generation of young girls with tocophobia — fear of childbirth? My guess is that it will not. The birth happens fast, for one thing, and it's all pretty implausible. The baby appears to be a normal baby, though about six months old, and functions for the rest of the movie in a doll-like capacity.

But Bella Swan — the teenager who falls in love with the vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and marries him in this, the first half of the screen adaptation of the fourth and final book in Stephenie Meyers' Twilight saga — does die in childbirth in the film. Her death has been prophesied, so it isn't unexpected, but the sight of her still, gray form on the table where her baby was born is upsetting.

However, the second half of Breaking Dawn is scheduled for release one year from now, so let's just say that birth transforms Bella. We haven't seen the last of her.

Breaking Dawn is rated PG-13.