Meet Katie Linstead, whose baby arrived just in time to celebrate Christmas.
Christmas has always been a romantic, positive time of year for me. My husband, Jack, and I got engaged at Christmas, and both he and my brother have Christmas birthdays.
And when it comes to celebrating, I really go for it.
So when I found out my baby’s due date was in mid-December, I was over the moon.
The baby was breech up until 38 weeks, with the head right under my ribcage, squashing my stomach. This meant rich Christmas food was off the menu and, to be honest, I was a bit miffed not to be able to indulge in my favourite treat, mince pies.
But, thankfully, the baby turned at 38 weeks, allowing me some breathing space. At 39 weeks, Jack and I took my son Freddie to see Father Christmas at an indoor winter wonderland. My huge bump was not going to get in the way of my festive fun.
Because the baby had been breech, I’d planned a water birth in the hospital a few minutes from our house. And while I liked the idea of a home birth, in truth, the thought of sidelining the Christmas tree to accommodate a birthing pool now the baby had turned felt a little disruptive.
But my due date passed and I found myself a week overdue the weekend before Christmas.
The midwife gave me a sweep to nudge things along, but I was disappointed when she said my cervix was completely closed.
As the carol singers lifted my spirits, I felt my bump tightening
To cheer me up, Jack took me to a Christmas market. And as the carol singers lifted my spirits, I felt my bump tightening. This felt much stronger than the practice contractions I’d had previously, but I put them down to discomfort from the midwife’s examination.
Back home, I went upstairs to quietly write Christmas cards, stopping to breathe deeply when I felt a tightening, until Jack called me down for tea.
He’d cooked a Christmassy roast, but I couldn’t physically sit down to eat it. ‘I’ll just stand,’ I said as I ate.
I went to bed at 9pm but couldn’t get comfortable and eventually went to the bathroom. The tightenings became more frequent and intense and I sat on the loo, doing what I thought was a massive wee, but now realise it was my waters starting to break.
Back in bed, Jack asked, ‘Where have you been?’ I was so relaxed and ‘in the zone’, I thought I’d been in the bathroom for 10 minutes, when in fact it had been two hours!
I called the hospital, and I was told to come in as soon as I could. Jack called my mum to look after Freddie.
I crept into Freddie’s bedroom just as an intense contraction gripped my bump and I lay, silently cuddling him as the pressure overtook my body – it was a special moment I’ll always remember.
Mum arrived at about 2am and, having had five babies of her own, recognised a woman close to giving birth.
Jack helped me into the car. I had no concept of time – I was in a trance.
I concentrated on breathing deeply on the short car journey and walk across the icy hospital car park. I was shown to an assessment unit, examined and found to be 5cm dilated, so the midwife went to find a delivery room and warm up the birthing pool.
At last, labour began to feel real. Thanks to the hypnobirthing course Jack and I’d taken, I stayed calm and Jack took it all in his stride.
After about 20 minutes, a burst of liquid soaked the bed we were sitting on. My waters had completely broken. ‘Jack, get the midwife!’ I said.
‘It’s pushing time,’ she said. The pool was ready, so all I needed to do was waddle down the corridor to it. I took Jack’s arm, but on the way I had a sudden urge to deliver the baby.
The midwife guided us to the nearest bed, and I knelt down, leaning over the edge.
I gathered all my energy and, rather than pushing, breathed and focused all my energy downwards
I gathered all my energy and, rather than pushing, breathed and focused all my energy downwards. My body calmly took over – it was as if it was doing the hard work, not me.
I felt a release of pressure as the baby’s head came out. I then felt a stinging sensation, but it didn’t last long.
I took another huge breath and the body quickly emerged. I slowly sat back against the bed as the midwife handed me my baby.
I held her close, feeling her gorgeous gooey skin against mine. ‘Our baby girl!’ I gasped to Jack. I was overjoyed. Baby Heidi breastfed a few minutes afterwards and slept contentedly on my chest.
As we walked from the labour suite to the ward a little later, the fairy lights twinkled – it’s one of my most magical memories. I
’d honestly completely forgotten it was Christmas, so the realisation we’d have an extra reason to celebrate in years to come put me on cloud nine.
Seeing the nativity scene outside the hospital chapel as we left the hospital that afternoon gave me another thrill of excitement. And being back in our festive house felt wonderful.
Because our friends and wider family were wrapped up in their own Christmas preparations, we weren’t inundated with visitors like we would have been normally.
And having time on our own for those precious few days helped us bond with Heidi. By the time Christmas Day arrived, we were happy to host family in the morning, then Jack and I enjoyed the best Christmas day ever with Freddie and baby Heidi.
Looking back, I can hardly believe I gave birth so easily – no pain, no pushing and no drama. I’m convinced it was all down to positive self-belief and staying in my calm little bubble. And my experience has motivated me to train as a doula, so I can help other mums have a positive birth too.
The added bonus is that I get to celebrate Heidi’s birthday at my favourite time of the year. This year, to really ramp up the Christmas spirit, our little family will be in the Alps, snuggling in front of a fire. And
I’ll be sure to eat plenty of mince pies.