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Judah's Kiss
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 agitation.

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 Rob Tapert.

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 that."

And then, of course, it was a water birth to boot.

His fears were allayed when "Lucy dragged me to ante-natal classes".

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 father?"'
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 on."
Labour this time was hard and fast, over in three hours compared with the 27 hours last time. It was very, ah, challenging, Lawless admits.

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 is."

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.


"I 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.

Feature story found at www.stuff.co.nz