Jennifer and baby Isaac on Christmas Eve 2006, Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer Pinarski
“December 25th! If your baby is born on its due date, you will have a Christmas baby!”
My OB/GYN looked up from the cardboard due date calculator in her hands to my shocked, teary-eyed face. I was at what I thought was my five-month prenatal appointment during my first pregnancy. The news that our baby was due on December 25 meant I was really six months pregnant and it caught me off-guard.
It meant that we’d had a series of false-negative pregnancy tests. I had bled heavily for most of the first month of pregnancy, thinking it was my period—so, I could have potentially qualified for a role in one of those reality TV shows where the stars don’t know that they're pregnant. I felt incredibly foolish and mentally unprepared to have a baby a month earlier than planned.
“Believe me," my OB/GYN said, reassuringly. “You’ll be more than ready to have this baby three months from now.”
And she was right. As my healthy pregnancy played out, I took advantage off the Expectant Mom parking spots at the mall while Christmas shopping and made 100 chocolate truffles. If there is any advantage to being pregnant at Christmas, it’s that your nesting urges are put to good use! Dressing for parties was difficult, though, because I was too huge to wear any cute maternity dresses.
A few days before Christmas we finished the nursery and started the waiting game.
We didn’t have to wait long. Early in the morning on December 23, my water broke while I was sleeping. But instead of being a clear liquid, it was greenish and foul-smelling—a clear sign that there was meconium in it.
The next 24 hours dragged: My contractions never started on their own, and I was induced using Pitocin. Nitrous oxide and morphine didn’t take the edge of the contractions when they finally started but, thankfully, an epidural was administered. Communication errors between nurses meant that my Pitocin drip was turned off and my contractions stopped.
When it was time to push, our baby was firmly jammed in the birth canal, facing the wrong direction, with the cord wrapped around his neck, and I was too exhausted to push effectively. Having my OB/GYN wheel me to the OR for a C-section was a relief. After a few more mix-ups in the OR (the stirrups kept falling off the operating bed and the suction hoses were reversed), our son was delivered at 3:43 a.m. on December 24, 2006.
Having a Christmas baby means that many of our family traditions have changed. Instead of opening gifts and eating steamed pudding on Christmas Eve, the birthday gifts from family are opened (remember, no gifts from friends!) and we eat birthday cake. However, we still have our traditional Ukrainian meal of perogies, latkes, kutcha and cabbage rolls.
Most people ask me if having a Christmas baby makes the holiday season more frantic because of the added stress of planning birthday parties and gifts. Nearly six-and-a-half years ago, when my OB/GYN told me my due date, I’ll admit that it was one of my worries. In the end, our family has learned that having a Christmas baby is nothing to be worried about—it just makes the most wonderful time of the year that much more wonderful.
A version of this blog post was originally published December 2012.
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