Bless This Mess actor Lake Bell has spoken on her co-star Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert about how challenging her two home births were. It’s fair to say that her stories are not for the faint-hearted.
“I felt very empowered”
While many, many women experience home births without complications, Lake says that unfortunately, she was not one of them.
That said, her first difficult experience did not deter her from choosing a second home birth. In fact she said it made her more determined to do it all again.
“We had two home births,” Lake told Dax. “The first was with Nova in Brooklyn. I felt very empowered … the home birth was this amazing primal bonding.”
But that doesn’t mean things went smoothly.
“When my daughter came out, she had the cord wrapped around her neck, and it was very scary. She was on my chest and she wasn’t breathing.”
“The midwife gave her three lifesaving breaths on my chest … She came to life and we saw it … I felt very empowered by that experience,” Lake explained. “I got pregnant again, and this time we’re in LA and I said, ‘I want a home birth again’.”
“Life and death”
Unfortunately this second birth was not as positive as Lake had hoped. It was touch and go again, with an ambulance called this time and things going from bad to worse very quickly.
“The same thing happened, I was at home and he had the cord wrapped around and he was on my chest. He was not coming to,” Lake remembered, revealing the reality of those seconds and minutes after giving birth.
“Now you’re in really f*cking life and death. Your child is there and the entire room is trying to resuscitate him and they can’t. The paramedics are on their way.”
Once the ambulance arrived the paramedics got to work to save her little boy’s life.
“The paramedics come in, the cord is still on so he has oxygen through my blood. They cut the cord,” Lake recalls.
They then rushed the baby to hospital with Lake’s husband Scott as she waited for news about how her bub was doing. Lake remained at home, delivering her placenta and receiving postpartum care from her birthing team.
“I was looking at my phone as they were sewing me up and I get a little video from Scott: little Ozzy just barely taking breaths with the oxygen mask and I just passed out. Because I was like, ‘He’s alive,’ and then I just passed out.”
“It is what it is”
Baby Ozzy spent 11 days in NICU being looked after and Lake and Scott were told he was at risk of cerebral palsy or other health challenges.
“He was hypoxic, he was without oxygen for longer than the four minutes that is associated with being okay,” Lake says, noting that Ozzy has defied the odds and now has a “clean bill of health” and is even meeting his milestones early.
The mum-of-two says she battled guilt over what Ozzy went through.
“I took it on because I insisted on having a home birth,” she said of this guilt, explaining that she had therapy to help process these big feelings.
“I’ve dealt with that since … I was medicated for a year-and-a-half. I did wean myself off but I was on antidepressants to help kind of regulate … I was like, this is absolutely imperative in order for me to function.”
“You could blame the midwife, you could blame yourself, but ultimately the result is the only thing that matters,” Lake told Dax.
“It was like war, but what I find about labour and birth is it’s the most extraordinary ordinary thing because every motherf**er goes through it. There’s no getting out of it that it hurts, or that it’s extraordinary, or that it’s life and death or high stakes, it is what it is.”