Francesca Secola-Pessoa, 25, a student, lives in Teddington with her husband Thyago and their daughter Emilia, 10 months.
I love Christmas, but when I found out my due date was 15 December, I was a bit disappointed. I know people who were born close to Christmas and their birthdays often get overlooked. I was worried about how my child would feel about having joint birthday and Christmas presents.
My husband and I aren’t very tall, but my bump was huge.
But by the time my due date was near, I had other things to worry about. My husband and I aren’t very tall, but my bump was huge. At 38 weeks, at the start of December, it measured 4cm larger than average, indicating that the baby was going to be enormous. I would be induced if I didn’t go into labour by 21 December.
In an attempt to avoid that, I tried all the old wives’ tales to get labour started. I went for long walks, ate curry and virtually lived on my birthing ball, but nothing worked. Keeping active was hard because I was huge. So when my induction date arrived I was relieved and excited that the end was finally in sight. I went into hospital in the afternoon and was given a pessary to induce labour, but nothing happened. That night I felt too big and uncomfortable to sleep, but I still couldn’t feel any proper contractions.
I felt so far away from all my family. We always have big gatherings at Christmas, and this year there were lots of family members celebrating at my parents’ house, including cousins and uncles.
I really wanted to be with them, joining in with charades and playing the usual silly board games.
Time passed so slowly, and still nothing happened. I was given more pessaries. Finally, on 23 December, I was moved to the delivery suite and my waters were broken. By about 4am the next morning, I was ready to start pushing. Realising I was about to have a Christmas Eve baby, all my worries about the date disappeared and I just felt excited.
Around 6am, the midwife attached a ventouse to the baby’s head to help ease her out. With the next big contraction, I managed to push her head out, followed soon after by the body.
As I lay back, exhausted, Emilia was handed to me to hold. She was huge – 10lb 10oz! I felt overjoyed and lucky to have a healthy baby, especially when the midwife told me that Emilia’s shoulder had been stuck in the birth canal, that’s why her birth had taken so long.
Soon afterwards, a midwife gave me a Christmas present – a bottle of body wash
Soon afterwards, a midwife gave me a Christmas present – a bottle of body wash. It was just what I needed after such a long labour. Later, as I got my strength back, I was given Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, and a cracker to pull, despite it only being Christmas Eve!
Now I love the fact that Emilia has a Christmas birthday – and I can’t wait for all those extra celebrations in the future.