After a ‘horrific’ hospital birth with their first son Oscar, Inspiral Carpets keyboard player Clint Boon and his wife ditched the clinical wards for the comfort of their cosy Stockport home.
Clint and wife Charlie are Manchester’s homebirth poster-couple, campaigning for parents to adopt the traditional approach which is growing in popularity again.
And with a wide pool of experiences, from self-delivering babies to emergency defrosts of the freezer, storytime is never dull in the Boon household, where their two youngest sons were born.
“When Hector arrived, for me as a human being that was like one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had because it was so primal,” said Clint.
“We made the baby and brought him out – I delivered him.”
Charlie told Clint that he didn’t quite deliver him.
“I birthed him and you just happened to be there,” she said.
“I sent the midwife home to Ilkley to feed her cats so Clint phoned her and she set off again.
“In the next contraction I felt the baby’s head crown and that was like the biggest surprise of my life and I just looked at him and said, ‘oh god’.
Mrs Boon’s Tea Party is coming back to Manchester’s Northern Quarter as a weekly event. Launch 21.5.16. Watch this space xxx @mrsboonscakes
— Clint Boon (@therealboon) May 7, 2016
“The next contraction his head came out and that’s when I said to Clint, ‘right the head’s out!’ and he said, ‘don’t worry, don’t worry it’s ok.’
“But he didn’t believe me – until suddenly he was like, ‘fucking hell!’ and I have never seen anybody get undressed so quickly – you know that scene in Bruce Almighty – it was just like ‘phoomf’ like that and he jumped into the pool.
“And the next contraction the baby was born, just us, nobody else in the house, so then he phoned the midwife back and said, ‘right, baby’s been born’.”
Clint said the homebirth was without panic.
“We could see the baby was alright, no cord around his neck or anything,” he told MM.
Charlie’s family were soon round to see the newest addition to the Boon clan.
“He was having a little snuggle, warm in the water,” she said.
“The next thing I knew was my mum and sister were hurtling up the stairs.
“I’m sat there with a baby in one hand and a placenta in the other and my mum’s like, ‘oh my god do you want me to phone an ambulance?’
“I’m like ‘mum no, I wanted a homebirth!’ and I remember saying, ‘right, just nip downstairs and get me a pint of Ribena and a couple of paracetamols’ and then that was it!”
— Clint Boon (@therealboon) May 9, 2016
Clint, 56, who also fathers 21-year-old Max, and Harley, 23, from a previous marriage, beams about the ‘call the midwife’ style of birthing claiming that everyone should give it a go as the euphoria of having a baby can be lost when you’re in hospital.
“I’m adamant it’s worth trying,” he said.
“Fortunately we had little issues with Hector and our 5-year-old Cassius – except when Charlie got Swine Flu – the one thing you’re not supposed to get when you’re pregnant.
“But they’re just the best days ever.
“Windows open, walk around the garden for a little bit. It’s all the joys with homebirth, I think with hospital births the joy’s put away bit by bit.
“As a bloke, you’ve made the baby together, you’ve cared for her as much as you can over the last nine months so what can you do?
“Every little bit you can on the occasion.
“If you’re at home, it’s putting up the birthing pool two weeks before the baby comes, whatever decorating she demands, the logistics and practicalities of it – why just hand that over to some doctor?
“I think some blokes are just fearful of what’s about to happen.
“When I look back on my experience a lot of that is just instinctive and primal.”
— Sarah Matthews (@SarLouMatthews) August 4, 2015
Charlie, who runs Mrs Boon’s Cakes and Tea Parties, is quick to highlight an exception to Clint’s primal instincts.
“Except when Cassius was born, he disappeared for ages because he had to an emergency defrost of the freezer,” said the 34-year-old.
“I was like, ‘I’ve just given birth – where is he?’ and he was whacking ice off the freezer!”
Clint points out, however, that he felt a beeping freezer did not make for a relaxing homebirth.
In March 2012, the couple gave birth to a little girl, Luna, who was diagnosed in the womb with an underlying illness.
At the Foetal Medicine Unit at St Marys, which they describe as ‘a different world’ with ‘fabulously wonderful’ staff, Luna underwent some small operations in the womb and Charlie went into labour a few weeks later.
Luna was born at 27 weeks but sadly died aged just 34 days.
“With Luna we had to put ourselves in the medical profession because we knew right away when we had the scan there was a problem,” said Clint.
But Charlie still had to fight for the birth that she wanted.
“I ended up being quite vocal with the midwife afterwards about how they weren’t listening to me,” she said.
“I was contracting and I didn’t want the catheter there anymore, but I remember saying ‘I do not consent to this’ and they carried on – that to me felt like an assault.
“It really infuriated me because it wasn’t a medical emergency for her to be doing that.”
Because of Luna’s illness Charlie wasn’t allowed to hold her straight away.
A week later she held her for the first time, a moment she described as agonising.
“It took about an hour to get her out because of all of the tubes and a lot of paraphernalia that has to be very carefully handled,” she said.
“I held her and it was beautiful.
It was like just going back to the moment of birth again, honestly it was just like that.
“Then after about an hour of holding her – because you can’t just like readjust yourself because you’ve got all these tubes and you’ve got to be pretty still – my back was going into spasm.
“And I had to ask to put her back, which was just so heart-breaking, to have to ask to put her back not knowing if I was gonna hold her again.”
Sitting in the state-of-the-art facilities at the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit at St Marys, Charlie noticed the not-so-nice furniture and said in passing that she wished they could do some fundraising for some new chairs.
Then came a brilliant idea from their son Hector, who was just five at the time.
“He had really long hair and he just said, ‘I’ll do it – I’ll get my hair cut for charity!’ which was great because Hector’s hair was a big part of his personality,” Charlie said.
“So we were thinking we’ll just raise a few hundred quid but it just started snowballing and snowballing, I think up to now it’s about 40k.
“We’ve been able to buy for the whole unit not just the neo natal.”
— Manchester Homebirth (@MancHomebirth) February 23, 2016
Along with fundraising, Charlie has decided to use her experiences, both positive and negative, into becoming a doula – someone who supports women before, during and after they give birth but is not medically trained.
She admits that if she’d known about doulas when Oscar, now 11, was born she would have felt much more prepared.
“Once I become a doula I know that if I find myself in a situation with a woman who is having a hospital birth I think I could help protect her from some of the things that I had to go through,” she said.
Clint said he is backing his wife in her decision to get involved with other soon-to-be mums.
“I think Charlie studying as a doula is great because she has this massive spectrum of memories and experience,” he said.
“It’s a journey and I think the more that we’ve done that journey the more it cements us as people really.
“We’ve had more experiences in terms of raising kids than anyone we’ll ever meet.
“Like losing a baby is a very powerful thing to have happened.
It’s tragic, but we’ve got that knowledge of what it feels like.
“We’d rather we didn’t know what that feels like but the fact is that we’ve got that.”
The family continue to fundraise for the Neo Natal Unit at St Mary’s – look out for Charlie as she thrashes the Great North Run this September.