Santa’s big sur­prise…

I was watch­ing the kids open their toys when he made a sur­prise ap­pear­ance!

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Demi-leigh El­son, 21, Stoke-on-trent

Stand­ing on tip­toes, my daugh­ter Lola-lea, 3, care­fully pushed her en­ve­lope into the post­box.

‘I hope Santa gets my let­ter,’ she smiled. ‘I’d like our new baby for Christ­mas.’

My son Codie-ray, 2, wrig­gled in his pushchair.

‘Baby for Christ­mas,’ he chimed in.

‘We’ll have to wait and see,’ I smiled. ‘Santa will only bring the baby at Christ­mas if he thinks it’s a good idea.’

It was early De­cem­ber 2017 and I was ex­pect­ing my third child. With a due date of 26 De­cem­ber, our whole fam­ily was buzzing.

When I’d met my part­ner Aaron Ous­ley, then 25, in Au­gust 2014, I was al­ready mum to Lola-lea, then just 5 months old.

The fol­low­ing year, two weeks be­fore Christ­mas, Codie-ray was born.

Then in April 2017, I fell preg­nant again.

And at my 20-week scan we dis­cov­ered our lit­tle boy was due on Box­ing Day. A Christ­mas baby! Thank­fully, my preg­nancy pro­gressed well.

With each pass­ing week, Lola-lea and Codie-ray grew more ex­cited.

By Novem­ber, how­ever, I was wor­ry­ing about my due date.

I al­ways planned Christ­mas Day metic­u­lously, with the kids’ presents piled un­der the tree as fes­tive songs played.

Then there was all that lovely grub.

Tur­key, roast pota­toes and stuff­ing, fol­lowed by dou­ble help­ings of Christ­mas pud…

‘What if I end up in hospi­tal over Christ­mas?’ I fret­ted. ‘I’d never for­give my­self miss­ing the kids open their presents.’

‘Stop wor­ry­ing,’ Aaron laughed. ‘This baby will come when he’s ready.’

My other two both ar­rived late, so I hoped this baby would take his lead from them! By De­cem­ber, I was huge. Get­ting or­gan­ised, I put up dec­o­ra­tions, wrapped the kids’ presents and packed my hospi­tal bag.

But there was one thing I couldn’t plan.

‘Please stay in­side un­til Box­ing Day,’ I said, rub­bing my bump.

I felt a swish and a kick in my belly. Al­most like he’d heard me… On Christ­mas Eve, we hung the kids’ stock­ings and placed a mince pie and a car­rot on a plate by the fire.

‘Where will Santa leave the baby?’ Lola-lea frowned, look­ing around.

‘Er, I’m not sure dar­ling,’ I said, cross­ing my fingers this baby would stick to the plan.

Early next morn­ing, the kids bounced on the bed.

‘He’s been!’ Codie-ray shouted, eyes wide.

We watched sleep­ily as they ex­cit­edly pulled colour­ing books, pen­cils, and choco­lates from their stock­ings.

But as we all put on dress­ing gowns and padded down­stairs, pain shot through my ab­domen.

Only a twinge, I thought, fo­cus­ing on the kids.

The room looked beau­ti­ful, with dec­o­ra­tions and fairy lights ev­ery­where.

We’d just had a new car­pet laid, too.

I sat on the floor by our lovely tree, laugh­ing as the kids tore into their presents. But no baby – yet... ‘Maybe these aren’t false labour pains af­ter all,’ I gri­maced as yet an­other wave rip­pled across my

belly. By 9am, they were com­ing every few min­utes.

‘Should I call the hospi­tal?’ Aaron asked. I shook my head. With Lola-lea and Codie-ray, I’d been in­duced and labour had taken hours.

My wa­ters hadn’t even bro­ken yet. ‘We’ve got time,’ I said, grit­ting my teeth. ‘I want to see the kids open the rest of their presents.’ The kids had break­fast and then car­ried on un­wrap­ping. ‘A Dis­ney Princess cas­tle,’ Lola-lea yelped. ‘Thomas the Tank En­gine trains,’ Codie-ray cheered. They also had new clothes, train­ers and a Find­ing Nemo game. De­spite the con­trac­tions grow­ing stronger, I man­aged to open my gifts, too. ‘Ooh, a bot­tle of prosecco,’ I said, breath­ing through an­other con­trac­tion. I’d bought Aaron some nice af­ter­shave. As he spritzed it on, his eyes darted to my face ner­vously. At 11.30am, as the kids opened their last gifts – new Christ­mas jumpers – I felt the strong­est con­trac­tion yet. ‘This might not take hours af­ter all,’ I whim­pered. Aaron lifted his phone. ‘I’ll call an am­bu­lance,’ he said. Paramedics ar­rived within min­utes and, just be­hind them, my mum Nicola, 39. She ush­ered the kids into the kitchen, while I moved onto my hands and knees by the tree.

Fo­cus­ing on a fairy light twin­kling in front of me, I tried to breathe through the con­trac­tions. Then… ‘I need to push!’ I gasped. With no time to get to the hospi­tal, the paramedics helped me onto the sofa. They gave me gas and air. ‘Mind my new car­pet,’ I snapped.

Aaron threw down blan­kets ev­ery­where.

Good job, too, as min­utes later there was an almighty gush be­tween my legs as my wa­ters broke.

This is it!

Aaron gripped my hand as I pushed our baby into the world at mid­day.

As Oak­ley-john was placed in my arms, the pain of the last few hours was al­ready a dis­tant mem­ory.

I stared down at his lit­tle face and had never felt luck­ier.

‘Talk about the per­fect gift,’ I whis­pered, cradling him to me. ‘He’s beau­ti­ful,’ Aaron wept. Our lit­tle fes­tive sur­prise weighed 6lb 10oz.

The chil­dren gasped when they rushed in and saw their baby brother.

‘You got your wish af­ter all,’ I smiled.

The paramedics took me and Oak­ley-john to Royal Stoke Univer­sity Hospi­tal for check­ups. By 5pm, we were home – just in time for Christ­mas din­ner!

‘It smells amaz­ing,’ I told Aaron.

He’d been busy pre­par­ing sprouts and spuds while I’d been gone.

Tuck­ing in as Oak­ley-john slept in his Moses bas­ket, I felt the true spirit of Christ­mas.

We even cracked open the prosecco.

De­spite my wor­ries, Oak­ley-john timed his ar­rival per­fectly and we can’t wait to cel­e­brate his first birth­day. So spe­cial. I might even con­sider hav­ing an­other baby un­der the Christ­mas tree if it means Aaron cooks the din­ner again!

‘Mind my new car­pet!’ I snapped to the paramedics

What a pressie!

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