EMMA & MAX
22nd December 2015. That’s when our baby boy was due. But Esme, our first, was 10 days late so our second baby was bound to be late too, which meant I was unlikely to have a Christmas day baby; more like new year, which would be fine. We hadn’t planned this very well; the last thing I wanted was to be spending Christmas in hospital giving birth…
But in the early hours of Christmas morning 2015, I got up to go for a wee… and something felt different. He’d moved. As I crawled back into bed and lay still for a few minutes, I felt the twinges of early labour and gently nudged my husband, Alex, awake. “He’s coming” I whispered.
By 6.30am, my in laws had arrived and were soon making breakfast for Esme, while Alex and I headed out for a walk to help get things going. It felt quite bizarre to be wishing each other a happy Christmas on top of Blythe Hill Fields, looking out at the city skyline and stopping every 5 minutes or so to wait for a contraction to pass.
By the time we got home, the contractions were getting stronger but we still managed to open stockings with Esme before my father in law dropped us off at Lewisham Hospital around 10am.
We rang on the door of the birth centre and were admitted by a cheerful midwife who joked that “there was no room at the inn”. No seriously, despite being told that Christmas was generally a ‘quiet time’, all five suites were occupied.
Thankfully, a couple were just being discharged so I bounced (and contracted) on a ball in the communal area for an hour while they prepared a room for us.
It was so different the second time… no checks, no questions, just Ally, our lovely midwife who told me to let her know when I felt ready to get in the pool and to shout if I needed anything.
I was much more relaxed this time too though and felt happy to trust my own instincts. In fact by the time the pool was filled and I’d put in my Christmas lunch order, I was in the water, gripping Alex’s hands tightly and starting to push.
I won’t pretend it didn’t hurt (it did) but after a rather traumatic first birth that ended with a forceps delivery in theatre this really was the birth I had hoped for. No pain relief, no intervention and no concerns.
At 12.30pm, Maximus James, ‘popped’ into the water (at which point the amniotic sac burst) and I pulled him up underneath me for a cuddle.
He was the most perfect little boy and now the most perfect Christmas present we would ever receive. The next few hours involved a bit of feeding, a bit of stitching, a bit of toast and a quick shower but 8 hours after we’d arrived at the birth centre, we were back home introducing Max to his big sister, his grandparents and uncle – just in time for presents and Christmas dinner!
Despite my initial reservations, it ended up being the most surreal and most amazing Christmas ever and I am now so glad that Max decided to make his appearance on such a special day.
I’m not superstitious but apparently it’s lucky to be born on Christmas day and it’s lucky to be born ‘en caul’ (in the amniotic sac) – so Max is possibly one very lucky little boy. Or rather, I am a very lucky mummy.