Two years ago exactly I was a first-time preggo reaching exactly 37 weeks gestation (The baby could come ANY DAY NOW!) I couldn’t have been more naive. If you’re expecting a baby this holiday season here are some things you should know:
- The waiting game is unbearable. Here’s the thing about due dates - I swear they are totally made up. I am getting to conspiracy-level with this idea you guys. Due dates are fake! That said, I was hoping we’d have our baby by Christmas (predicted December 23). You can see my dilemma. I thought we’d have our little holiday angel to coo over… My parents would arrive and we’d have an amazing Christmas celebrating the gift of life. Doesn’t that sound nice? I’ll give you a hint though - Nope. Just, so not how it went down. He arrived the morning of December 31st. Those 8 days made for the weirdest, Stranger Things ‘upside-down’ time of my life. And yes I even looked and sounded like a total demogorgon during my labour.
- Stuff is closed. Normally no big deal right? But what if you need nipple cream because they’re chapped and sore? A snot sucker for your congested newborn? Other stuff you didn’t think of? Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas this one is going to pose a challenge. Good luck! (Shameless, but every pregnant woman should have a postpartum care kit waiting for her under the tree this year for this exact reason).
- Snowstorms love to show. My dad drove me to my final midwife appointment in the middle of a blizzard. Seriously, he’s the best dad doula ever. I had that terrifying flashback feeling like he was driving my first boyfriend and I to a high school dance. Thanks Dad! Thankfully the snow had been cleared the next day for me to make it to the birthing centre.
- You may have a lonely Christmas Day. So I recall 2 years ago as a really important time in my life since I was growing a human. But, you may also recall it was the time when Making a Murderer was released on Netflix. Soooo since we failed to plan a Christmas scenario not involving a newborn baby, my partner and I binged the ever so festive crime series all. Day. I’m not proud.
- Unfamiliar company. You may get to have your baby on Christmas eve or Christmas and be surrounded by healthcare professionals who are super stoked to be working during the holidays. Seriously though, from what I hear it’s a pretty great atmosphere in maternity wards on those special days. I was born on Christmas Eve and my mom told me all the time about how the nurses brought me to her in a Christmas stocking. It warms my heart to this day. Since we didn’t reach labour by Christmas though we emerged from our MaM binge late-afternoon and shuffled over to my Mom Friend Liz’ family Christmas - they had kindly extended us a plan ‘B’ invitation so we had a good meal and good company there (Thanks!)
- Planning your child’s birthday party is going to require strategic planning, forever. I had some pretty epic birthday parties growing up which included ice rinks and money cake (remember your parents wrapping coins in wax paper and then you half choking on them? How was that a thing?!). Seriously though my parents had to move mountains to figure out the right time, date and place so that anyone would show up. That said, I always grew up with an appreciation for an intimate birthday coupled with ice cream cake. Less people? Less people to judge how much ice cream cake I ate.
- You may have to hit pause on your traditions. My partner and I live away from our families. Logistically this made our holiday planning even more difficult because we couldn’t travel. On the flip side we also didn’t have visitors because no one wanted to intrude to play the waiting game with us. Until they figure out the hyper-loop or teleporting this sort of waiting limbo is going the be the reality for many expecting families with loved ones far away. In my family our important traditions include opening stockings first thing Christmas morning and then tinkering until the extended family arrives. Christmas 2015 had none of this. Not even close. It was a challenge to mentally grasp that I wouldn’t be spending that special day with my immediate family - that was a first for me. The stockings had to wait. Add a cocktail of pregnancy hormones to that reality and hello tears!
- You get to start awesome traditions for your child’s birthday. Even though he came on new year’s day I had insisted we keep the (half dead) Christmas tree up so we could take my son’s first pictures there. I also had friends write welcome messages for him on a stocking so he was swaddled in festive garb just like I had been. The whole timing thing didn’t go as I had planned but I did get to create some holiday-themed stories which will entertain him for years to come. His birthday’s will likely be quiet and forgotten to many but at least he’ll get all the ice cream cake, too.
- It will all feel totally bizarre. Holiday due dates are a great time to practice ‘rolling with the punches.’ It will get weird, extra emotional and unpredictable, but...
- It will be one of the most memorable holiday seasons of your whole life. Seriously girl, I feel ya this holiday season. When I see you doing your Christmas shopping 9 months pregnant, or overheating on the packed bus in the middle of the snowstorm, I’ll be thinking of you and relating hard. And when I meet you down the road you’ll tell me your child’s birth story and we’ll share that special bond of the totally weird holiday due date experience.