New Mom Kate Mara Opens Up About Her 'Disappointment' and 'Devastation' Over Emergency C-Section

Kate Mara‘s birth plan didn’t exactly play out the way she was envisioning.

The actress opened up in a recent episode of Dr. Berlin’s Informed Pregnancy Podcast, revealing that she gave birth to her daughter with husband Jamie Bell at 36 weeks gestation in May via an emergency cesarean section, after laboring “into the third day” at the hospital instead of having an at-home birth like she had wanted.

Mara, 36, revealed that she had to be induced at 36 weeks along because, after experiencing intense itching, she tested positive for Cholestasis: a liver disease that can happen in the late stages of pregnancy and potentially harm an unborn baby.

After her medical team at Cedars-Sinai administered an epidural (something Mara had initially not wanted, but was told could speed up her cervix dilation), she developed a 102-degree fever — which was what prompted the emergency procedure that eventually landed her daughter safely in her arms.

“I know a lot of people that have had c-sections that are not planned, that they don’t want to have happen. And most of those people, most of my friends, have said, ‘I just wanted the baby out. I was actually asking for a c-section,’ ” the House of Cards alum told Dr. Elliot Berlin. “But to me, it was [not like that].”

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“I kept really calm for most of those three days but right before I went in for the c-section, that’s when I sort of [felt] the devastation of it and the disappointment of not being able to experience a birth any way that I had hoped,” she recalls, adding that she felt “really scared” ahead of the surgery.

“It was more that I was so scared to have the c-section, to have this surgery,” Mara explains. “I was genuinely terrified of what that meant and what could happen and all of these things, and then of course just being tired made me that much more scared, I think.”

“I was just super sad,” she continues. “I remember that moment very clearly because I burst out crying and was like, ‘I’m scared.’ My mom was there and my husband was there and my mom thought, ‘Oh, God.’ She didn’t tell me this at the time but afterward, once we were all safe and the baby was out, she thought I was having some sort of premonition that something was going to go wrong. She thinks I’m sort of witchy like that, which I can be.”

Luckily for Mara, the procedure itself was painless despite experiencing some “terrible shakes” from the pre-surgery medication, her “eyes rolling back” and excess bleeding afterward that led to the new mom having to undergo a blood transfusion.

However, it was worth the complications and “totally comforting” for her to hear her daughter — whose middle name is Mara, the actress shares — let out her first noises after she arrived safely.

“But also, I was like, ‘When am I going to stop shaking?’ ” she tells Dr. Berlin. “I thought my teeth were going to pop out, my jaw was clenched so tight from the shakes, and then I thought, ‘I definitely can’t hold her because I can’t move.’ My arms were locked.”

“My husband brought her over to me and he kind of held her on my chest and it was amazing, but it was not at all what I imagined it would be,” Mara admits. “I could barely keep my eyes open to look at her.”

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Bell, 33, remembers a “relatively straightforward” pregnancy for Mara up until 36 weeks (with his wife even calling it “easy”), making the unexpected Cholestasis diagnosis feeling like “a cruel U-turn.”

And the Rocketman actor definitely sensed an immediate “shift” in his role once their birth plan changed, in the sense that he felt like Mara’s “advocate” from the moment they entered the hospital.

“There was just one more thing that she had to think about, and she couldn’t think about,” Bell says. “So then she would look to me and go, ‘Tell them what to do.’ Which was … I mean, I love that I was given that position, but also it was a terrifying one because I’m no doctor. I’m not inside of her body. It was a role of real responsibility.”

While their baby girl’s birth didn’t go as planned, Mara says she “wouldn’t do anything differently” because she arrived safely and they did what they could: “We really did do everything in our power to make it as peaceful and natural and easy for our baby to come out as possible.”

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