Sabrina Nelson, 41, an events manager, has recently relocated to Liverpool from Jersey with husband Michael and daughters Eliza, 5, and Aoibhean, who will be two at Halloween.
When I was told the date for my c-section - 31st October - I shot my husband Michael a glance. “That’s Halloween!” I gasped, suddenly feeling superstitious.
Seeing my reaction, the consultant smiled and offered to move the date into November. “No, it’s fine,” I laughed. It was just a date and, besides, what better reason would we have for future birthday party themes?
My baby’s birth date started to feel exciting. I’ve always been a huge Halloween fan, and October’s my favourite month of the year. The event’s a big deal in Ireland where I’m from, and when I was a child my family always went to town with spooky parties and dressing up.
Being an events planner myself, I needed no excuse to get creative that Halloween! In the lead up to my c-section, I decided to make the most of the last few days with my eldest, Eliza, before her sister arrived. We went pumpkin picking, watched the Addams Family at the cinema, and made autumnal floral displays. It helped keep my mind off the upcoming trip to the hospital.
A planned c-section was recommended this time because of complications with the position of my cervix during labour with Eliza. While I wouldn’t have chosen to give birth in theatre, I knew it was the safest option for me and my baby. Plus, after a difficult first delivery, everything would feel calm, organised and controlled.
October 31st finally came round, my hospital bag was packed, and Eliza had been dropped off at my friend’s house. As Michael drove me to the maternity ward the empty streets felt suitably eerie. At 6.30am, it was pitch dark, and as I noticed the giant spider web decorations on hedges and carved pumpkins on doorsteps, reality hit me – I was about to meet my Halloween baby.
I took a deep breath and tried to replace my nerves about the c-section with confidence. ‘Brave and bold’ was the mantra I repeated in my head. It helped to focus my mind and keep me in the present moment, even when I noticed that Michael was anxious.
At the ward, we were shown to a room where Michael was offered a cup of tea. I’d have loved to have joined him but I was on strict ‘nil by mouth’ instructions since the previous night! We distracted ourselves with chit chat, and the midwives made a few final checks, like taking my blood pressure.
“You’ll be in theatre at 9.15am, and by 9.45am you’ll be holding your baby,” smiled one of the midwives. It was surreal to know everything was running to such a tight timescale, and a complete contrast to my first birth, which had felt chaotic. This time, I was grateful to know exactly where I stood.
Soon, it was time to get into my surgical gown. Michael waited outside while I walked into theatre, and it felt like one of the most important moments of my life. ‘Hold it together, don’t lose it,’ I told myself, taking slow and steady breaths.
Seeing the stark white theatre and its sterile equipment, plus the medics in their scrubs and masks, I had to smile. It could have been the set of a Halloween horror movie! When the surgeon smiled and introduced himself, that thought left my mind. He’d been at one of my previous consultations, and I felt instantly reassured.
Everyone in that room was calm, from the midwife who offered me a pillow to bend over on the bed, to the anaesthetist who gave me the spinal block. I felt a sharp sting in my back as the needle went in, but it was over in seconds. I lay back, relieved.
Seeing Michael walk through the door in his scrubs was the best sight ever. He held my hand, whispering words of encouragement as the anaesthetic started to take effect. Gradually, a numbness spread down my legs, until I couldn’t feel a thing in my entire lower body.
A barrier screen was put up in front of my bump. I hadn’t even realised the procedure had started because I was chatting happily to Michael and the midwife beside me. A few painless tugging sensations were all I felt as the surgeon got to work. It all happened fast.
“Here she comes,” someone announced after what seemed like seconds. I looked up to see our beautiful, healthy baby girl held above the screen. That was it, Michael and I both burst into tears, overwhelmed with relief and happiness.
Waiting for baby Aoibhean to be weighed, wrapped in a blanket and handed to me felt like an eternity. When I finally held her and guided her to latch on for her first feed, I couldn’t have felt prouder.
The midwife joked we should have called her Winnie – as in Winnie the Witch – and I suddenly remembered the significance of her birthday. Aoibhean was only minutes old but already I was looking forward to having a double reason to celebrate Halloween. It felt very special.
That evening Eliza ran into the maternity ward, excited to meet her new sister. And when she presented her with her very own cuddly pumpkin toy as a birthday present, I could just imagine the fun they were going to have together on future family trick or treat outings.
Last Halloween we went all-out with a big themed birthday party complete with spooky menu and elaborate pumpkin decorations. This year we’ll be celebrating at Blackpool illuminations, the birthday girl dressed as a Peppa Pig witch, and me as a ‘scary’ nurse.
The other day Eliza excitedly pointed out Aoibhean’s canine teeth, and we joked that they look like cute – and very appropriate - little vampire fangs. Having a Halloween baby gives me and my family the perfect excuse to have fun together. I can’t believe I ever allowed that superstitious thought to enter my head!