Lake Bell is opening up for the first time about her harrowing experience giving birth to her second child. Bell stars alongside Dax Shepherd in the new sitcom Bless This Mess and appeared on Shepherd’s podcast Armchair Expert this week. The hour-long talk included an emotional discussion about Bell’s home births with her son and daughter, with the experiences resulting in two very different labours.
“We had two home births. The first was with [daughter] Nova in Brooklyn. I felt very empowered … the home birth was this amazing primal bonding,” said Bell. “When my daughter came out, she had the [umbilical] 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 and my husband was there. She came to life and we saw it.”
Having had a positive home birth experience with her daughter, Bell and husband Scott Campbell, a professional tattoo artist, decided to once again give birth at home with their son Ozgood.
“I was huge, he was 11 lbs. The same thing happened, I was at home and he had the cord wrapped around and he was on my chest,” said Bell. “He was not coming to. Now you’re in really f—ing 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, he’s still there. This person you don’t know.”
Bell recalls the medical team arriving and quickly rushing her son and husband to the hospital, leaving her in her home with a midwife. “The paramedics come in, the cord is still on so he has oxygen through my blood. They cut the cord and Scott ran out half-naked [with their son] and I was naked after my seven hours of laboring.”
After giving birth to Ozgood, Bell then had to be induced in order to deliver her placenta. “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,” said Bell.
Following his traumatic birth, Ozgood was in the NICU for 11 days, with that period of time filled with fear and concern for the new parents. “He was hypoxic, he was without oxygen for longer than the four minutes that is associated with being okay. … We were told that he could [have] cerebral palsy or never walk or talk. That was our reality. … Children’s Hospital Los Angeles saved his life,” says Bell, who decided to share Ozgood’s birth story because “…I’m proud of him. Proud of walking out of that hospital with a clean bill of health.”
Describing Ozgood’s birth as “most egregious up and down of [her] entire life,” Bell said she experienced tremendous guilt in the aftermath. “I took it on because I insisted on having a home birth. I’ve dealt with that since. You could blame the midwife, you could blame yourself, but ultimately the result is the only thing that matters,” she said. Thankfully, the actor is now in a much better mental and emotional state, but that came with work. “I’ve gone through therapy and was medicated for a year-and-a-half. I did wean myself off but I was on antidepressants to help kind of regulate. I barely take Advil but I was like, this is absolutely imperative in order for me to function.”
As for Ozgood, Bell happily reported that her now two-year-old son hit his milestones early, including rolling at two months and walking at nine months.