Updated: Aug 9, 2019
I have always loved Christmas. So much so, that when I announced my pregnancy and due date (a festive 23rd December), my family and friends couldn’t help but laugh.
In fact, she ended up being exactly that: a Christmas Day baby. The first Christmas Day baby in the hospital no less, meaning she was adorned with celebrations, from the tiny hand-knitted Santa hat the midwife team gave her, to the local newspapers who came to take her photo. The cheer in the hospital was contagious. (One of my husband’s favourite stories is that the first time we met our midwife, she was wearing a giant, sparkly turkey hat, but I digress…) I was even presented with an NHS Christmas dinner, complete with cracker and festive napkin.
On paper, it sounds like the kind of birth story I would have dreamed of, but sadly the reality was somewhat different. The trauma of my birth experience surrounded me like a fog in the months following, culminating in my being diagnosed with PTSD and undertaking a course of EMDR therapy.
The Christmas Day that saw my daughter’s 1st birthday was bittersweet. So much joy at her smiling face as she opened her stocking, and so much hurt remembering the trauma from the previous year. I framed the newspaper clipping of her arrival to hang on her bedroom wall – a red-cheeked festive baby being held tight by her shell-shocked parents.
And now, as the Christmas lights begin to go up for another year, I look at that newspaper cutting from that life-changing Christmas Day and smile, because I know that there is such a thing as post-traumatic growth, and that my daughter was the best present of all.