Since the birth of his daughter Mabel in November 2016, Russell Brand has kept remarkably quiet about fatherhood and life with his partner, Laura Gallacher.
But in his new book, Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions, he’s penned a personal account of Mabel’s birth and it’s as beautifully written as you’d expect.
From Laura’s early labour to getting in the birth pool at the hospital, it’s a lovely account of birth from the partner’s perspective.
Here is an edited extract from Russell’s book:
I ‘call the midwife’ Karina.
It is 6.30 a.m. now, she grapples snoozily with the phone and I can hear pillows and half-light in her voice. ‘Laura is having contractions,’ I say. ‘Surges?’ she corrects. ‘How far apart are they?’ They are between four and six minutes apart. We are instructed to call later.
In our room the magical intimacy remains. Real specialness. Not like the Baftas or a department store advert, but a daunting sense of impending wonder. It is in the synthesis of the physical and divine that I find myself frozen in astonishment.
Karina says we should leave now or have the baby in our bedroom, which I am totally down with but Laura is the boss so off we go, her couched up in the back next to the currently vacant baby seat mooing and crowing and all sorts, in a beautifully unselfconscious way.
I sit up the front, chauffeuring us through the country lanes, sometimes having to go real slow when Laura surges.
Once in the birthing room, with its pool, which is a big bath, its rolling purple, pink and blue lighting and cavernous, intimate solitude, things start to improve. I now have a few jobs.
I can fetch things, yes, but also I am monitoring the lighting. Turning off all but the psychedelic swirl. Laura, encouraged by the change of scene, goes into a new, more intense and focused mode.
Laura moves into the water, lit like a Hendrix album. On all fours again she pushes and I watch aquatic roses of blood gently bloom behind her.
It is maybe 4 p.m. and the contractions are more frequent and one comes on now and I pass the gas and air and she falls into it. I watch enviously as Laura levitates. After the first blast she becomes yet more holy, inhibitions exhaled, a sense of immersion and self-realisation of which, along with the free buzz she is inhaling, I am quietly envious of.
'These women know what they are doing,’ I think as I resume my job as an orderly.
A contraction duly arrives, Laura pushes and roars. Screams and contorts her face.
Amazingly she doesn’t swear but uses Enid Blyton curse words like ‘golly!’ and ‘gosh!’, and a melodic and beautiful wailing, it is like siren song, here she is, in water, crying out in primal pain with harmony, harmony with herself, with the sound, with birth.
I am kind of at a spiritual and primal football match. I have none of Laura’s syntactic restraint and am vacillating between ‘FUCKING HELL! Go on Laura!’ and long and gut-felt ‘Aum’s’.
Laura wants to be in a different position. The contractions, surges, fuck, surges, are near constant now, she swishes about in the pool, on all-fours, on her back then finally squatting, like a frog on her toes, heels up, knees outward and we lock at the eyes and the forearms.
The pool is raised so I am able to see Laura’s vagina perfectly and my eyes dart between hers and the true focal point of the action and in this moment the midwives seem like corner men in a prize fight, hanging back, knowing now that coaching and strategy are over and only nature remains. I can see the mound of the head, round and burgeoning behind the vagina which is not yet open.
It is intense and an aperture emerges, heralded by an unfurling flume of blood, like a silent clarion call, and I see the head. A small circumference, a coin-sized revelation of the top of the baby’s head. How can it all be surprising? How is it so amazing? I mean this is what we are here for, why then is it so amazing? More surges, more roars, more PG swearing.
Then, our arms locked, another push and fifty per cent of a human head appears. It is beyond spectacular, so often spectacle is without substance. Another push, more roaring, both of us now, me effing and blinding and aum-ing, Laura screaming, a life-affirming, animal scream.
The baby looks like an effigy of a baby, a doll, a special effects baby, a model, the motion is provided only by the water. All is so quiet and still. Laura and I both reach down and she takes her. ‘It’s a girl’, the cord trails and tangles. Then, in her mother’s arms, with searing and sudden certainty, as if touched by the finger of creation, her eyes flash open and life possesses her and exudes from her.
Like seeing behind the curtain as she moves from life’s shadow to life. How different is inanimate flesh to a living being. I watched the life flow in and in this moment when she came online, when her consciousness ignited, I felt new life enter me.
I’ve heard new fathers say, ‘I never knew such love was in me,’ but I always knew, I just didn’t know what to do with it. When I saw her I knew. I knew her and I knew what to do.
I climbed into the pool. Laura talks to her daughter: ‘Hello. I’m your mummy. I’m your mummy and you’ve done so well.’ She doesn’t cry but we do. Not sobbing or weeping, tears run as if a newly acquired altitude is wringing them from our faces.