In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Sherina White, 38, shares her story. If you’d like to tell yours, email email@example.com.
Having a baby on Christmas Day never bothered me. I quite liked the idea of it, actually. Of my five children, two have been Christmassy babies and all have been quick. The youngest was born on 23 December after my waters broke in the aisle of Lidl. My husband was desperate for her to come before Christmas Eve – and luckily, she did, at 11.50pm. But the quickest was 20 minutes, from first contraction to last push. That was my fourth daughter, Zhadie, who was due on Boxing Day.
I really didn’t mind being pregnant with her at Christmas, to be honest. I know it’s crazy and busy and exhausting, but I’d been bigger than a turkey for four years running (my kids were three, two and one at the time), so I was used to it. We’d just moved into a new area, to a new house, and I felt a bit like we were nesting. I was up ladders, painting the house, shopping – I did everything with three toddlers in tow right up until the day she was born.
I thought it’d be pretty cool if she was born on Christmas Day – in fact, I tried to hurry her along. We all went to my mum’s for Christmas that year. She lives in south London and I wanted to go into labour in the hospital near her (it was much nicer), so I was almost willing Zhadie to come out. Every twitch, movement, anything, I thought it might be it. But it wasn’t, it was just me eating too many Quality Street. Can you blame me?
We tried to stay in south London for as long as we could, just to be in that hospital. Then we got bored. We wanted to go home. We left my mum’s the evening of 28 December, walked in our own door, chucked all the bags down and headed off to bed quite quickly. All five of us were exhausted, so me and my husband decided we’d just unpack everything in the morning.
Zhadie showed no signs of coming whatsoever. Until 3am.
“This baby is coming,” I said to my husband when I abruptly woke up in the middle of the night. “What, now?” he replied. “Now!” I shouted. He then proceeded to tell me he had no petrol in the tank which, I’ll tell you now, I had been telling him for days to make sure he had filled. But he knew how quick my previous labours had been, so called my father-in-law to come look after the kids and started to get things moving.
There was a funny moment outside shortly before we left – we lived next door to an old guy at the time who didn’t like us parking on his “line”. While I was pacing up and down the path in pain, waiting for my husband to bring the car around, the man came out and shouted at me (yes, at 3am): “Not on the LINE!” To which I told him I was in labour. He put his hands up and backed off. Ha!
No, but seriously. I thought my previous labours were quick but this was just ridiculous. On the (very short) drive to hospital, I told my husband I could feel the head. He told me to calm down. Arriving at hospital, even the midwives didn’t believe how close Zhadie was to coming out – I walked, and just about made it to the doorway of a room in the labour ward.
The midwife pulled my dress up when I said I needed to push. “Oh shit, push, push, PUSH,” she shouted when she saw Zhadie was crowning. I gave birth in that doorway only 20 minutes after I had woken up that night.
It’s so bizarre. People always ask me if it was painful, but I think it was more mentally and emotionally battering than physically. My whole body was just shot to pieces. I had the shakes after, I think it was the shock and my body trying to catch up.
We left hospital at 10 in the morning after all the checks and went home to three sleepy toddlers who were all lying together on the sofa. “Your baby sister is here,” I shouted. They were so happy.
My birth advice?
Stoop! Let gravity do its work and stand up or squat when you give birth. Honestly, I would say stoop to anyone if they can do it, even if you’re tired. I just think it makes everything that bit quicker and your body just opens up.
As told to Amy Packham.
Sherina White runs The Gourmet Dinner Lady, find out more here.