My older son — the one who turns 16 this year, so stay off the roads! — was born on New Year’s Day. My pregnancy with him consisted mostly of picking out the divine mint-green-and-purple toile wallpaper I’d be decorating with for the girl they told me I’d be having, interspersed with regular bouts of throwing up and consistent, ongoing weight gain in my arms. (You’d have thought I was carrying the child in my triceps.) About a month before my due date, my doctors made an abrupt course correction, announcing that I’d be having a boy — they’d found that “third leg” — and admitting me to the hospital. All that sickness had become more serious, and suddenly, I was having neither a girl nor a late January baby.
All the parents converged on our hospital room and regarded me with eagle eyes, waiting for me to produce a grandchild as though I was nothing more than an overgrown toaster in a skin suit. Feeling my cervix pucker under the hot glare of the spotlight, I was eventually able to divert all that attention to “Rush Hour 2” on the television and regroup. It was January 1st… a New Year’s baby, huh? Isn’t that fun!
Sixteen years later, I have learned some things that I’d like to pass along about New Year’s babies. Here are 5 things you might not think about when you become a parent on January 1:
1. Nearly every time you mention your kid’s birthdate, people will make a comment about it.
Mostly it will be innocuous or positive. However, sometimes someone – generally a man — will make a comment like: “Why didn’t you have (him/her) earlier so you could get the tax break?!” Especially in the early years, and even later, if you are having a particularly difficult day with your teenager, you will want to kill this person. Try not to. Law enforcement frowns on that.
2. Speaking of feeling hostile, let me mention one other thing about delivering a baby on New Year’s Day.
I ultimately ended up having my son via C-section, which, after laboring with no results all day, I had to repeatedly call my OB and beg for. I swear to you, it took her so long to make it to the hospital — he was delivered, FINALLY, at 9:45 p.m. — because she was watching bowl games. How do I know? Because the whole team in the OR discussed football over my open abdomen the entire time. This made me feel, in the immortal words of Jen Lancaster, “stabby.” So, if you deliver in the hospital, remember that life does go on around you even when your kidneys are splayed out around your belly button or when you’re trying to avoid an episiotomy. It’s not their fault.
3. Your holiday week is going to be a dead sprint for the next several decades; quite possibly, forever.
Christmas with children is busy AF; the older they get, the more hectic it is. I have pulled a literal all-nighter on Christmas Eve every year since having kids, including this year, and I am old enough to know better. When you have a New Year’s baby, you can think you’ve aced another holiday, but oh no, it’s not over. You have to ramp up again to make his or her birthday special and distinct from Christmas (or Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, of course).
Word of advice: Try to think about the birthday with respect to gifts while you’re doing your holiday shopping, and set some things aside. Then you’ll have at least one thing done. You’ll only have the cake, a party if you’re having one, decorations, food, invites, wrapping…someone get me a cup of coffee…
4. On the day, there’s no extra big hoopla, unless you deliver super early.
So, yes, I have a New Year’s baby, but as noted above, my son was delivered at 9:45 p.m. that night. The only special prize I got was my delicious and amazing newborn. I would have been only too happy to produce my son at 12:01 a.m that year, but I’m sure that my OB was up late working on her college football picks at home.
Spoiler alert: You won’t care about the lack of hoopla. You’ll be in love.
5. You can tell your child that their birthday is a national holiday — because it is!
With my son, the impact of this wore off when he went to school, but I enjoyed letting him think that the country and most of the world stopped in its tracks to recognize the day of his birth for as long as he believed it. As such, I’ve always been fortunate enough to have the day off on 1/1, as has his dad, so it’s a great serendipity to be able to enjoy the day with him in such a leisurely manner. This is particularly true now that he’s a teen and doesn’t especially want to spend all of his free time with us, so we can now inflict our presence on him just out of purely enjoyable spite.
Actually, I guess he still enjoys hanging out with us sometimes — we just spent four hours together last night playing an incredibly convoluted card game together. That’s the most important thing I can tell you about my experience with having a New Year’s baby: I got my amazing, complex, brilliant, funny, talented son from the whole deal. Since that day, he’s been the best New Year’s Eve date anyone could ever ask for, and I couldn’t have asked for a better son — any day of the week.
After experiencing a traumatic c-section, this mother sought out a doula to support her through her second child’s delivery. Watch as that doula helps this mom reclaim the birth she felt robbed of with her first child, in Episode Three of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below. Visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for more episodes.