Gillian Upperton, 28, thought she'd spend Christmas Day with a big bump. But little did she know her baby wanted to try and catch Father Christmas and made an early arrival...
When was your due date?
I wasn't actually due until 19th January 2011. But although I'd suffered quite badly with morning sickness during my pregnancy right up until I was around 32 weeks, I didn't have any reason to think I wouldn't go full term. In fact, I really enjoyed my pregnancy from that point. Little did I know that I only had two weeks to go...
Did you ever imagine having your baby home for Christmas?
Never! In fact quite the opposite - I'd planned to have a nice relaxing Christmas with my feet up watching old films and eating turkey!
At what point did you realise this might not happen?
It was 11th December, a Saturday morning and I was Christmas shopping with my mum. I'd asked my partner, Lee to get our tree down for when I got back so we could put it up together. But while I was walking around the shops, I felt tiny little trickles, and I honestly thought it was just the baby pressing on my bladder! It kept happening though, so I rang the delivery suite and they advised me to put on a pad and check it in a couple of hours. But during this time I was feeling very crampy and when I got home the pad was quite wet. I called them again and they told me to come in.
What happened then?
Lee and I got to the hospital at around 4pm. I was put on a monitor and a midwife said it was picking up contractions so a doctor came to examine me. She said I was 3cm dilated and that my waters had definitely broken. I was 34 weeks pregnant, and it was a shock to say the least. They didn't know why this had happened, and the doctors and midwives put it down to a spontaneous rupture of membranes.
Did they try and stop the contractions?
To start with, yes. But by 9pm the contractions were coming thick and fast so I was told to expect baby in the next 12 hours. I had diamorphine, which was OK but made me quite sick, and by about 5am it was found to have slowed the contractions so I was advised to have an epidural as I would be given pitocin, which speeds things up.
Tell us about the delivery
After the pitocin was administered things seemed to happen very fast. By about 12.45am I was ready to push, but about 45 minutes later it became clear that my baby wasn't coming out without help. The doctors were unable to say which way round he was facing so I was rushed to theatre for a forceps delivery with a c-section team on stand-by.
How did you feel when you saw your little boy for the first time?
It was pretty traumatic, but finally my little boy Theo James was placed on my chest. He had awful facial bruising and was grunting. I later found out he was struggling to breathe. After only a few seconds he was whisked away. I was told he weighed 5lb 10.5oz.
I'd had an episiotomy so was taken to a recovery room where I was brought a photograph of him in the neo-natal unit. It was a shocking picture but I could still see his daddy in him. I clung to it, then four hours later I was finally allowed to see him.
How long did Theo spend in the neo-natal unit?
Theo needed help to breathe at first, as well as phototherapy due to jaundice. On day five, I was allowed to hold him and attempt our first breastfeed. Luckily he took to it straight away. He kept having tests for his jaundice, and his bruising was bad, so they worried about his liver function. The only thing we could do was wait and pray. Then, the day before Christmas Eve, the nurse in charge of the neo-natal unit came in. Her first words were, ' How would you like to take your little boy home tomorrow?' I just burst into tears!
What was Christmas day like
We got Theo home at lunchtime on Christmas Eve and although he was very yellow, he was feeding well. His first Christmas morning was spent having his first bath at home and lying in his Moses basket in the window to get as much light on his skin as possible! My mum and brother delivered our lunch to us.
How will you be celebrating this year?
This Christmas will be a lot calmer! I plan to put the tree up as soon as Lee will let me and just enjoy every minute with my beautiful baby boy. It's been such a whirlwind year but Theo is doing brilliantly, he's exactly where he should be developmentally. He's been so brave and fought really hard to get this far.
He's my little Christmas star!