07 July 2002
When Xena star Lucy Lawless gave birth at home in a pool, husband
Rob Tapert thought she was crazy. The couple talks exclusively to
Donna Chisholm about being parents again.
The chainsaw wail of an inconsolable newborn wafts down the
staircase at Lucy Lawless' stately home.
Amid all the grandeur, it is a reassuring note of chaos.
Two-month-old Judah has had his jabs today, Lawless explains, and is
not well pleased.
She is dandling her puce-faced little bundle on her lap. He is
disinclined even to take the breast; his little feet pump in
That Lawless is being interviewed at all right now is evidence of
her commitment to the cause she wants to promote – the Starship
Foundation's bid to raise $2.7 million to complete the heart unit at
the Starship children's hospital.
She is fronting this month's advertising campaign for the hospital,
despite the pressures of a new baby, her third.
Son Julius is nearly three. Daughter Daisy, 13, spends weekdays with
her dad, Garth, and weekends with Lawless and her producer husband
She might have been the legendary Xena, warrior princess on screen,
but at home, reality – the modern mixed family – rules.
For Tapert, parenting the Kiwi way was a sharp learning curve. When
he discovered Lawless was planning a home birth for Julius – and
later Judah – "I thought she was absolutely out of her
mind", he admits. "I couldn't imagine that someone did
And then, of course, it was a water birth to boot.
His fears were allayed when "Lucy dragged me to ante-natal
Lawless said she didn't even think it was a decision she needed to
consult him about.
"I never realised it was a problem for you," she tells
him. "I just thought `What's it got to do with the
But Lawless says with the Xena series so high profile, particularly
when Julius was born, the privacy of a home birth was an attractive
and discreet option.
"It's lovely having a baby at home. He was born at 11.44pm and
we were in bed asleep by 1.30 am."
Now Tapert too is a convert. "Afterwards, I realised how great
it was to have a baby at home. Within 23 minutes of (Judah) being
born he was on my belly when the midwife was dealing with Lucy. I
started going downstairs with the baby and the dog's there pogo-ing
straight up and down because he knew something had been going
Labour this time was hard and fast, over in three hours compared
with the 27 hours last time. It was very, ah, challenging, Lawless
After it she celebrated by eating a wheel of camembert – a luxury
denied her while pregnant.
"It was a snap," says Tapert of Judah's birth. The first
time, though, "I got a bit angry that things weren't going the
way I expected them to. I couldn't find things . . . It was way
outside my comfort zone.
"The first time I was afraid because I'd never seen anyone give
birth. I had been at car accidents where people were in tremendous
pain and I thought the birthing process was going to be that kind of
pain but it isn't. It's waves of indigestion."
Lawless explodes with laughter. "Yeah, from the outside it
In parenting as well as birthing, the pair has learned to compromise
from positions that are philosophically poles apart.
"I'm closer to Ariel Sharon, probably," Tapert jokes about
his parenting style.
was a child of the late '60s," says Lawless, "Rob is a
child of the '50s. His background was very cut and dried.
"He brought to the table the idea that sometimes the kid
doesn't get a vote. Daisy was raised by teenagers and I would ask
her, `OK Daisy we can either go on a trip to Fiji or could build a
deck, what do you think'? And as a five-year-old she'd say `You're
giving me too much choice'. It completely confused her and put way
too much onus on her to make decisions about things not in her
sphere. Rob came along and took that weight off Daisy's shoulders
even when she thought she should have it . . . It helped ground her.