“As last Christmas approached, I was heavily pregnant with my first baby. My due date was 20 December, but there was no sign of anything happening. I was tired and fed up and had backache. On the morning of the 23rd, I was making mince pies and moaning about having such awful heartburn that I’d have to have indigestion tablets for my Christmas lunch, when I realised my backache was getting much worse – and it wasn’t just backache any more. I managed to finish the mince pies and wrap some presents before it was time to go to hospital.
At 6am on Christmas Eve, my daughter Sophie slipped into the world in a brilliant water birth. We went home later that day, as I insisted that I wasn’t going to be in hospital on Christmas Day. I felt brilliant and, after a bit of sleep, even managed to go to my mum’s for dinner, as she lives nearby. It felt totally surreal sitting there with a real, live baby in my arms and a glass of Champagne instead of indigestion tablets in my hand!”
Emma, 29, York
“Last year my 91-year-old gran spent Christmas with us. It was made extra special because in November I’d had my daughter, Olivia. It was amazing to see them together – born 90 years apart – looking so deeply into each other’s eyes. I took lots of photos of the two of them, and these are particularly precious to me now: as it turned out, that was Olivia’s first Christmas and my grandmother’s last.”
Alex, 27, Hertfordshire
“My daughter, Charlotte, was born on 17 December. To my great surprise she had Down’s syndrome, and the next five days were an emotional rollercoaster: great joy and love, but also shock and worry. The doctors thought she had something seriously wrong with her heart. My partner, Dom, and I cried a lot of tears. But every test came back fine and on 23 December Charlotte and I went home.
It was the most lovely, perfect moment, with the tree up and decorations that included photos of me and my bump. We spent all of Christmas Eve in this fantastic bubble, just the three of us. We had Christmas Day with close family and then a huge gathering of extended family and friends on Boxing Day. The feeling of the world crashing down on us just went. Somehow the fact that Charlotte has special needs just united everyone even more. She’s the light of our lives.”
Sara, 34, Middlesex
“My husband and I tried for a baby for four years with no success, even though I was only 30. Tests showed that nothing was wrong, but I just wasn’t getting pregnant. I was on a waiting list for IVF but I wasn’t sure when we’d be seen, and I kept reading that the chances of success were low. In my darkest moments I thought I’d never hold a baby of my own in my arms and I did cry a lot. Then, to my amazement, I suddenly found myself pregnant – totally naturally.
At first I was nervous, convinced I’d miscarry. But by last Christmas I was eight months pregnant and as huge as a house, with the baby wriggling around inside me. After all the heartbreak, my husband and I wanted to make the most of our last Christmas as ‘just us’. We booked lunch at a really expensive restaurant, and bought our favourite films on DVD to watch at home in the evening snuggled on the sofa.
But my best memory is of waking on Christmas Day and my husband kissing my bump and saying, ‘Happy Christmas, baby,’ to our unborn child. It made me absolutely melt. At the end of January I had a little boy, Finlay, and I’m really looking forward to this Christmas.”
Claire, 33, West Midlands
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“It’s been lovely creating family rituals with my kids. Last Christmas, Danny was 3 and Adam 8 months. We spent Christmas Eve making biscuits to decorate the tree, they put on their new pyjamas and we laid out mince pies for Santa and carrots for the reindeers. When the boys went to bed, we used flour and my husband’s boots to make ‘snowy footprints’ and sprinkled glitter – ‘reindeer dust’ – on the floor. In the morning, it was fantastic when we heard Danny say, ‘Look Adam! Father Christmas has come!’”
Gemma, 29, Dorset
When my first daughter, Ella, was 3 months old, I took her to a Christmas Eve Carol service at our local church. She was so good, being rocked in my arms as we sang carols. But halfway through the service she needed a feed. I was still unsure about breastfeeding in public, so I climbed the stairs into the ancient choir loft.
I thought I’d be alone and undisturbed, but an elderly couple were there. I sat in a recess to feed her, but the man and woman kept turning and looking at me and I felt very self-conscious. When the service ended, they came up to me. I was worried they were going to complain about me breastfeeding my baby in a church. But the woman smiled and said, ‘It was so lovely to see and hear you feeding your baby during the service – it really brought the meaning of Christmas home to me. Thank you!’
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It challenged my ideas about how people perceive breastfeeding in public, and reminded me of the real meaning of Christmas: a young mum, just like me, bumbling through, yet eternally grateful for her firstborn.”
Lucy, 32, Somerset
“My son, Sam, born in September, woke up early on Christmas morning, so I brought him downstairs, where I fed him while we listened to carols on the radio. Then I took a beautiful digital photo of him sleeping in his Moses basket under our lovely Christmas tree. I printed it, wrote ‘Happy Christmas, from Sam’ and took it to his dad with a cup of tea and a big kiss.”
Fran, 36, Surrey
“We knew that Christmas was going to be the last time it would be just the three of us. I was 12 weeks pregnant with my second baby at the time, and we wanted it to be special for Annabel, our 1 year old, so we decided to keep our celebration small.
My husband, Mark, really went to town and cooked French onion soup, goose stuffed with apricots and Christmas pudding. I was so ill with morning sickness, I couldn’t eat a mouthful, but it looked beautiful. After lunch we snuggled up in front of the TV, and then played with Annabel’s new doll’s house. Then, as it turned dark (and my sickness lifted), we put our baby in her pyjamas, got into the car and drove into London, touring the empty streets and showing her Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and St Paul’s, all beautifully illuminated in the December sky.”
Miranda, 32, London
What were your first Christmases as a mum like? Let us know!