Overdue at Christmas by Naomi Saunders
Pregnancy is full of myths and social pressures and the date your baby arrives in comparison to when they are supposedly meant to arrive, is unfortunately not exempt from discussion and unsolicited advice. Due dates are determined by 280 days to the first day of our last period, one of mother nature’s mysteries, which is somewhat artificially determined by a simple maths equation. As to be expected statistics evidence a steady birth rate throughout the year, but it is also no surprise there are typically less babies born on and leading up to Christmas day. It seems obvious that doctors avoid induced labours as much as possible during this time, which means most babies born on or close to the 25th are here just as mother nature intended.
I was delighted to be expecting a Christmas baby on the 9th December. After having my first pregnancy during a heat wave in the Summer, there was something about a crisp winter baby, which felt warming and wholesome. My first daughter had arrived on her due date, something I know now is quite unusual. My labour came on naturally, with my waters bursting all over my bedroom floor. So sensibly, I decided this time I wasn’t taking any chances. I was continually told by everyone about the old wife’s tale of second baby’s arriving much quicker and earlier.
I decided to extend my maternity leave, finishing work during the end of October, and preparing our house for the festivities which lay ahead. I planned every logistic, wrapping every present, ordering food deliveries, and freezing meals. I even booked Santa for 13 days after my due date, just to be sure I would be up and walking around in time to take my 4-year-old. By 1st December I was ready, with enough time to ‘relax’ or repack my hospital bag over and over.
My due date arrived and passed by, but no baby arrived. My yuletide gift was nowhere to be seen. This was certainly not part of the plan.
1 week flew by, day 9, day 10.
If you ever meet someone who is overdue, please, be kind. The emotions you feel in this time are nothing short of overwhelming. For me in addition to feeling extremely inpatient, the extra days gave me more time to consider labour, which for a second baby is not the most helpful. But even worse, was watching everyone around me enjoy the build up to Christmas.
Bittersweet emotions, adoring the excitement for my first daughter, but distracted by my continuing thoughts of delivering my baby safe earth side. Whilst people discussed their Christmas plans, all I could do was desperately hope I would be holding my baby, because it felt as though she was never going to come.
I bounced on balls, ate hot curries, took baths, walked miles. I even paid an offensive amount of money for acupuncture. But my little girl was not ready. Everyone who knew me was incredibly sympathetic, but the same advice to rest became tiresome. For anyone who hasn’t been overdue, it is incredibly difficult to rest during this time because your hormones are everywhere.
Finally, I was booked in for induction, something I had been so adamant I did not want to happen. But 13 long days after my due date and 3 days before Christmas my induced baby arrived. All my fears melted away in what was the most incredible labour and just writing about it makes me teary. My partner took our eldest to the santa trip, on the way to the hospital to meet her new sister. Another arrangement which had certainly not been part of the plan. I spent Christmas day in bed feeding, whilst the chaos descended downstairs, and these are the fondest memories that I will never forget.
A strong reminder not only does birthing never go to plan but old wife’s tales about due dates and second babies are not true. Your baby will arrive when they are good and ready.
The best advice I can give is focus on a birth month, rather than a birth date. If you are overdue this festive season, remind yourself the best is yet to come and try to soak up your last few days without a new born in tow.
Some handy tips which help me-
- Plan 3 tasks a day- I would write these before I went to bed. ‘If I don’t have my baby tonight, what will I do tomorrow?’. This helped me stay positive, as it meant even with the disappointment of not waking up in labour there was a clear purpose to the day.
- Create excitement – I arranged a lunch date, a nail appointment and a walk with a friend. These were each 3 days apart. Every time I reached one (I reached them all) it helped appease my disappointment.
- Speak to your midwife– I was very aware of how up and down my emotions were at this time. I kept talking all the way through and made sure I was honest with my midwife who was incredible at putting my mind at rest.
- Watch and read positive birth stories- after years of horror stories and a complicated first labour, reading about positive birth stories gave me much needed confidence and comfort.