Are YOU Having a Christmas Baby? Read this!
One of the most annoying things about my pregnancy was that whenever I told people my son was due to be born on December 20th , they all had the same weak response: “Oh my God! What if you end up having a Christmas baby? That would be the best present EVER!”
This irritated me, but I’m sure I politely smiled the way all pregnant women do when others offer their unsolicited thoughts on birth plans or breastfeeding, or say things like “You must be ready to POP!” when in fact there are five months left to go.
One of the few things my parents did right was to give us spectacular birthdays and Christmases. To have those two wonderful days merged would be a tragedy of first world proportions, and I wanted my child to be spared. I was NOT having a Christmas baby. No one is in town for a Christmastime birthday party, relatives most definitely only get you one gift, and half-birthday celebrations in June are bullshit. Your special day gets swept under the rug no matter what. It’s crap.
December 20th came and went, as did the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd. My mother arrived in town on Christmas Eve. She was glad that the baby had waited for her. She predicted, like everyone else, that he would come on Christmas Day. I was annoyed. My husband told her the baby would probably wait until the day she was scheduled to fly back to Florida, just to spite her. She told him to f*ck off. The three of us listened to Christmas music, drank eggnog, played cards, and went to bed.
At 3 a.m. I sat up with a cramp and felt a pop. I went to the bathroom and noticed some “stuff” in the toilet. I went back to the bedroom and asked my husband to Google, “Was that my mucus plug or did my water just break?” I stood at the foot of the bed as he typed the question into his phone’s browser, but I promptly told him to stop because there was suddenly no longer a question that my water was indeed breaking. It was breaking all over the hardwood floor and creating a pool underneath my feet. I started marching in place like a moron.
“Go to the bathroom!” my husband shouted.
“Get me a towel!” I shouted back, “I don’t want to leave a trail!”
“Goddamnit,” he muttered, “I had just fallen asleep.”
The irony that he wouldn’t sleep again for at least two years was lost in that moment.
He got me a towel and then went to wake up my mother. First, she thought he was joking. Then she said, “I knew it! You’re having a Christmas baby!” Again, I was annoyed.
Because my contractions were already 5-7 minutes apart, we called a cab to take us to the hospital. I told the driver as calmly as possible that I was in labor but not to worry because my water had already broken. When we pulled up to the hospital, I stepped out of the car and fluid poured out of me for the second time. File that under “shit no one tells you about birth.” It keeps coming out. For hours. Little floods. Now you know. Pass it around.
The labor and delivery floor was deserted because it was freakin’ Christmas. The few people who were on duty were busy snacking on their potluck holiday spread and talking about their plans for later in the day. They put me in a room and advised me to work through the pain of my contractions for a while, and that a doctor would be in to check on me at some point… when she got there… which could be a while… because CHRISTMAS. I went into the bathroom to clean myself up a bit, and when I came back into the room, my mom had put A Christmas Story on the TV. I would be laboring with Ralphie. “You’ll shoot your eye out — PUSH!”
I’ll bullet point the next 10 hours for you:
♦My mother couldn’t stand to see me in the pain of labor. “Why don’t you just get the epidural already?” I had planned to get an epidural, but I chose to labor for a few extra hours just to make her crazy.
♦When I eventually called in the nurse to tell her I was ready for my epidural, she sent in a legal representative who loudly informed me of the risks of paralysis and death. That’s a fun thing to consent to right before they lean you over and stick a giant needle in your spine. Put that in your notes with the previous tip about leakage.
♦Once the epidural was in, something was wrong with it. I was having a weird sharp pain in my hip. They called in the team of anesthesiologists who decided they needed to put some additional drugs in my IV drip. Then everything got foggy. My brother was there. My friend Rachel was there. At some point, the movie on TV changed from A Christmas Story to Titanic. “Jack! Rose! Jack! Rose! I’ll never let go — PUSH!”
♦When I was dilated to 10 centimeters, they turned the epidural down and kicked everyone out but my mother. I demanded they turn off Titanic because the idea of watching a ship sink while giving birth seemed like bad juju.
♦The doctor and nurse gave me a quick tutorial on pushing. I had skipped birth class because I couldn’t see the point in investing time and money in a class that would teach me a skill I’d only need for one day, and I stand by that position even after having birthed a baby. (Are you still taking notes, or have you decided that we aren’t like-minded? I didn’t have a doula either, but I can give you the phone numbers of a couple of stellar doulas. That sounds like Stella Doro. I digress.)
♦My husband was on my left, the nurse was on my right, the doctor was between my legs, and my mother might as well have been sitting in a theatre seat eating popcorn as she watched a horror film called My Daughter’s Vagina. I pushed, they cheered me on, I took breaks and made jokes, they told me how awesome I was, and I felt like I was probably the best birth-giver that hospital had ever seen.
♦When I started to crown, the doctor told me she could see the baby’s dark hair poking out, and that if I would like to see they had a mirror on wheels they could place in front of me. I said no. She said, “Sometimes it helps women when they can SEE what’s going on.” I said no. She said, “Are you SURE? It’s so amazing.” I’m a people pleaser, and I didn’t want to disappoint her, so I said, “Fine, I’ll look at it.” Out came the mirror. I looked at it. I knew I shouldn’t have looked at it. Back went the mirror.
♦The doctor started to put on what can only be described as splash gear. She looked like a longshoreman. I asked if this meant the baby was coming soon. She said, “Would I be putting on all this garb if it wasn’t?” A straight yes or no would have sufficed.
♦This was the part you see in movies, the woman in labor no longer calm, but red-faced and screaming in agony. I was not the birthing badass they were saying I was — I was a fraud. I was a pathetic, scared, worn-out shell of a person and I wanted to quit. I wanted someone else to do this for me. I actually screamed, “I can’t do this! I can’t do it anymore!” but my cheerleaders screamed back, “Yes, you can! Just a little bit more! One push more!” So I looked in my husband’s eyes, took the only deep breath I thought I had left, let out my barbaric yawp and gave one agonizing push more until there was my baby. There. They immediately put him in my arms and all I could say was “Oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god!” over and over again. I’m not religious, but I had no other words. He was here, and I just did that, and Oh. My. God. I looked over at my mother, who was sobbing, and for the first time in 24 hours I really loved her.
♦Get out your notebook again: It takes another 30-60 minutes for the doctor to stitch up any tears you might have gotten during the birth. All you want is to be done and to hold your newborn and start the next part of your life, but someone is needle and threading your lady bits, so you have to wait a little bit longer. But you’ll have plenty of time to hold your baby, and you do want your vagina to return to something resembling its former self, so hang in there.
We didn’t have Christmas that year; we had Charliemas. I never would have believed it if you told me I was having a Christmas baby. I still can’t believe my son was born on Christmas Day, and I’m still annoyed about it. When I tell people his birthday, they either say, “What a blessing” or “Wow, that sucks for him.” I can confirm that the latter is true — it sucks.
So far, we’ve chosen to give him a birthday party in January when all his little friends are back from their vacations, and that seems to work. When he gets older, if he wants that bullshit June half-birthday, fine.
At the moment, he’s just shy of 4, so it hasn’t yet dawned on him that he got the shaft, but for the rest of his life he’s going to be told over and over again that his birthday is either a blessing or sucks. And no matter how many times I tell him that he WAS the best Christmas present ever, it’s not going to be enough to make him feel better about his unfortunate birth date.
So, since you’re the ones who thought it was funny that I was having a Christmas baby, the least you could do is get him two presents, for f*#k’s sake.
*You know who had the ultimate Christmas baby? Mary. Imagine what it was like for her with this Christmas humor video.