Local Mother Undergoes Surgery to Give Unborn Baby a Normal Life

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For Meagan Bishop, motherhood is marvelous.

Meagan and her husband Derek are the proud parents of Berkley and the story of how she got her healthy and happy start is as miraculous as parenthood.

“We’re blessed that we had her at the time that we did, so that this was an option for us," said Meagan.

Meagan and Derek grew up miles apart. Derek a Bryan native met Meagan, a Houston native, at a church camp 10 years ago.

“I don’t know about love, it was interest," joked Derek.

The two started a long distance relationship that grew over time. Meagan attended Texas A&M University and their romance blossomed. After graduation, the two married and then came to the decision to have a family.

“He’s 25 and he didn’t want to be an old dad," joked Meagan.

By the fall, the couple was expecting. The first few exams were perfect but when Meagan and Derek went to find out the sex of their baby, they got some news they weren’t expecting.

“That’s when she told us that the scans showed that Berkley had spina bifida," said Meagan.

“Google can be a bad thing to look at when you’re in a situation like that," said Derek.

“You just run all the worst case scenarios through your head when you first find out and that’s what’s so consuming because that is all you can think about," said Meagan.

“I freaked out big time and drug her down into the freak out category with me," said Derek.

Seeking answers, the couple was referred to the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. It was there they learned about a surgery that could potentially fix their daughter’s spina bifida but it required a procedure that had only been performed a handful of times.

“If we could do anything to make her have a more normal life or an easier life, that’s what we wanted to do," said Meagan.

To be approved for the procedure, the pregnant mother and her baby had to go through a barrage of tests over a few short weeks.

“Each little test we passed was a small victory and the path to being approved for surgery. Once we found out we were approved, we were thrilled," said Meagan.

The operation would require doctors to operate on Berkley while still in her mother’s womb. It’s an operation that had been done at Texas Children’s Hospital a dozen times but in the back of their minds, the couple knew the surgery may not be Berkley’s only hurdle.

“It’s never a guarantee. We can do this surgery and she could still have all the complications that she would have had if we waited after birth," said Meagan.

“That’s why this becomes tricky and difficult," said Dr. Darrell Cass, Co-Director of the Texas Children's Fetal Center at the Texas Children's Hospital.

Dr. Cass was part of the team that operated on Meagan and Berkley.

“The mother is asleep under a very deep anesthetic. We have to then perform a C section type incision to open up her tummy and to expose the uterus. And then we have to open the uterus. This is the pregnant uterus that is full of amniotic fluid. So we have to open that up and the amniotic fluid will come out and then we expose this spina bifida deformity in the fetus and then the neurosurgeons came in and did the repair of the spina bifida defect," said Dr. Cass.

“After surgery it was almost like a relief. We've done everything we can do and now we’ll just leave it up to God. We’ll see what we have to face when she gets here and whatever we have to face then, we’ll face it," said Meagan.

Then on March 14th at 9:59 in the morning, baby Berkley was born and from the second she arrived, she impressed the doctors.

“She came out kicking and all the doctors were amazed," said Meagan.

Now at just over a month old, Berkley is doing great. She continues to show no signs of spina bifida and that leaves Meagan and Derek overjoyed.

“Coming home and hearing a baby, you 're wondering, why is there a baby here? Oh yeah! It’s my baby," joked Derek.

“It’s wonderful. I’m so glad she’s finally here and I’m not pregnant anymore. I love being with her, she is wonderful," said Meagan.

Much like their life together, Berkley’s entrance into Meagan and Derek’s lives has been a whirlwind adventure. And a mother’s love couldn't keep her from taking every step possible to protect her baby.

It was a long road but it was well worth it. I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat," said Meagan.

Doctors say the best way to prevent spina bifida from occurring during your pregnancy is to take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid before you get pregnant.

According to the Spina Bifida Association women who do this are 70% less likely to have a baby with spina bifida.