Maura and her no good, very bad, nearly deadly Bali homebirth


Who could have seen that coming?

Remember Maura? She’s the woman whose in utero single footling breech daughter “told her” to go to Bali for her homebirth? Despite being counselled by everyone and their midwives that homebirth was not a safe option in her situation, Maura “knew” that it was the right choice. Of course it was the wrong choice and Maura nearly killed her daughter in the attempt. Ultimately she had an emergency C-section and Lila survived.

Cognitive dissonance is hard. That’s what happens when reality does not comport with your most cherished beliefs. You have two choices in that situation: you could change your beliefs or you could changed reality. Maura is currently attempting to change reality in a truly remarkable blog post, 42 Days and 42 Nights: The Joy and Grief of a Cesarean Birth. I urge you to read it in full. Nothing I write could truly capture the pretzel like contortions of logic that allow Maura to conclude that despite being wrong about every single thing she predicted for this birth, she was actually right.

But the internet never forgets even if Maura does.

Back in August, Maura wrote this:

[pullquote align=”right” color=”#67a7f1″]Her in utero single footling breech daughter “told her” to go to Bali for her homebirth.[/pullquote]

… Lila, our divine little one, things have taken a “turn”. As many of you know, we have long planned a water birth at home (actually outside) and we came to Asia to birth her because she literally asked us to. We sold our homes and cars and furniture and embarked on this journey for her sake. Doing so required an impossible amount of trust and openheartedness. Offering her a chance at natural birth at home here in Bali is something we feel incredibly strongly about … Lila, however, has decided she prefers to meditate sitting up, rather than relaxing on her head like most babies. This means she is breech. Now, I am all about having a breech home birth and have no qualms whatsoever about having her come through me butt first. I even created a new dance called the breech booty boogie to celebrate her choice on how she wants to enter the world 🙂

But others did have qualms including the Balinese midwives and doctors; every single one recommended an elective C-section at 38 weeks. No matter. Maura paid for a New Zealand midwife to spend a month in Bali and attend her in labor. Labor didn’t start until 43 weeks.

What happened?

It was just as Maura had envisioned … at first.

We had a beautiful 16 hour long outdoor labor under the palm trees and it was truly an ecstatic journey. Andrew was an epic labor partner! Our journey began at 4 am walking through the rice fields together under Lila’s birth stars and watching the sun rise over the ricefields as the first rushes came on. I labored in a warm pool sprinkled with rose petals under a sacred palm tree and sparkling blue skies and under a thatched roof looking out over the rice fields. I dilated to four centimeters quite quickly and baby was doing awesome throughout our wild day of laboring in the water and sun.

But then:

Sometime late in the day, Lila inserted one of her feet into my pelvis and my dilation reversed back to 1 cm. At that point after her waters had been broken for 18 hours, and she had switched from frank breech to footling breech, our midwife recommended that we go to the hospital for an emergency cesarean…

You might think that Maura would conclude that her vaunted intuition had failed her. You would be wrong. Maura believes her intuition saved Lila’s life:

She was still doing fine when we arrived at the hospital and no one was in a hurry to do anything. They took the monitor off. An hour after we arrived I had a bad feeling and asked the nurses to check her heart rate. It had plummeted! She was in severe distress and no one would have caught it if I had not asked them to check her… As they brought me into the operating room I was really worried that we were going to lose her. And Andrew didn’t even know where I was or what was happening. I was alone in a frantic operating room of people speaking foreign languages. Within 7 minutes of noticing the distress, I was cut open and Lila was born… There were no sounds, no cries for five minutes after I felt them pull her out. I did not know for the first five minutes after her birth whether she had survived. It was the longest five minutes of my life…

They determined that the cause of all of the abnormalities was a very short cord that didn’t allow her to turn and suspended her high in the uterus and eventually stretched to where it distressed her oxygen supply… Lila could never have been born by way of the birth canal and any further efforts to turn her or birth her would have killed her.

So did Maura make a mistake when she chose to believe that Lila could be born vaginally? Surely you jest!

If I had known Lila had a short cord and could not be born vaginally, I still would have chosen to wait until I went into labor and endure a trial of labor before having a c-section. There are so many benefits to going through some labor before a cesarean. For one, it indicates that the baby is ready to be born. Even at a bona fide 43 weeks, our baby was still quite small and she needed the extra time in the womb. Babies absolutely know when it is the right time to come out. Secondly, a trial of labor allows the baby to experience uterine contractions, which help their lungs and circulation prepare for entry into the world. If we had followed medical advice, Lila would have born five weeks earlier, would have weighed about 4 pounds. Not only would her lungs have been underdeveloped, but they would not have been primed by our labor together and she would have been very likely to have breathing problems.

Ummm, Maura, didn’t you tell us that “Lila is a very small baby estimated at only 4.8 pounds at 36 weeks.” Babies gain about a 1/2 pound per week at this point in pregnancy, so she would have been about 5 1/2 pounds, but what’s a little exaggeration when you are trying to make yourself the hero of your daughter’s birth story.

The truth is that Maura was wrong about nearly everything and Lila almost died as a result, but that’s not how Maura is spinning it:

When I first showed resistance to having a 38-week scheduled c-section just because our baby was breech, I got the line “how you birth doesn’t really matter, having a healthy baby in the end is all that really matters”. Something about that statement made me feel ill. After my experience, I say that yes, the most important thing is having a healthy baby at the end… But that doesn’t mean that that statement is true or that it isn’t dangerous. Statements like this are used to push cesarean on mothers with very insidious bits of guilt, shame, and an illusion of control. They imply that having a cesarean guarantees something. But scheduling a cesarean birth guarantees nothing. It does not guarantee that your baby will live.

Actually, Maura, it does guarantee that your baby will live; that’s the reason it’s done.

Despite having been wrong about nearly everything, Maura has learned nothing:

The other thing that I wish for you is a deep trust in your own intuition. Your perfect body and deep subconscious created your baby, and you and the baby can be trusted to finish the journey. It was my intuition that told me to insist on an internal exam when I did. It was my intuition that told me to go to the hospital when my midwife gave me the choice of hospital or trying to sleep for a few hours at home. And finally, it was my intuition that demanded that I insist for the baby’s heart rate to be checked when she went into distress. Each of these conspired to save Lila’s life. Our bodies know, and we can trust ourselves.

Maura’s intuition told her to go to Bali, told her that she should have a vaginal birth, told her not to alter her plans despite the baby’s breech position and told her to let Lila nearly die. Not to put too fine a point on it, but her intuition sucked! But not in Maura’s mind.

Maura isn’t the least bit chastened by her experience. She’s rewritten reality so that she can preen about being right all along.

If I would have listened to hospital staff over my own internal voice, my baby would be dead. It was not the hospital that made the choice that got her out alive. It was me. It was my body’s knowing. It was the same principle that could be trusted to keep a floating microscopic ball of cells safe for two weeks in my womb. It was the same principle that could be trusted to make 33 perfect vertebrae. My final words to you are that you can afford to trust yourself. You, yourself, are a miracle and a miracle maker and you can be trusted.

Trust birth like Maura? I hope not.